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Interview: Lagwagon's Joey Cape Talks Angst & Inclusivity

Interview: Lagwagon's Joey Cape Talks Angst & Inclusivity

A.K. / Interview by Kitt Verhoef & Bonnie Tonkin / Wednesday 26th February, 2020 11:22AM

South Cali skate-punk heroes Lagwagon hit the tour grind this March for two gnarly Te Ika-a-Māui headline sets to celebrate three decades together and shiny new album Railer. The party of five have decked out the tour with a fine lineup of local acts, grabbing deafening Gisborne punks Sit Down In Front and Auckland thrashers Dick Move for their Tāmaki Makaurau show, and Ayn Randy and trash punks Gravel Pit in Pōneke. In a serendipitous turn of events, we linked up Ayn Randy's Kitt Verhoef and Bonnie Tonkin with Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape for a quick Q & A to discuss angst, diversity and sk8er slang. Acquaint yourself with the man behind the mic below, then get your skates on and buy a ticket before they're all gone...

UPDATE 16/03/20: Lagwagon have cancelled their March Aotearoa shows and shared the following statement via social media...

"To all our New Zealand friends and fans: we are incredibly disappointed that we will not be able to perform for you as planned in Auckland (21 March) and Wellington (22 March), due to the government's new quarantine restrictions for visitors. That said, we know that these new regulations are a good move, made with the health and safety of all of you in mind. We hope to return soon, when this global pandemic eventually subsides. Please take care of yourselves and your families and friends, ok? Stay safe and stay healthy!"

UnderTheRadar proudly presents...


Saturday 21st March – Galatos, Auckland w/ Sit Down In Front, Dick Move [cancelled]
Sunday 22nd March - San Fran, Wellington w/ Ayne Randy, Gravel Pit* [cancelled]

Ayn Randy: Hi Joey! Kitt and Bonnie from Ayn Randy here! We'll be playing a show together in Wellington at the end of March, and were given the opportunity to ask you a few questions for UnderTheRadar, stoked!

Joey Cape: Yes!

Firstly, thanks for coming to Aotearoa again, really looking forward to seeing yas!

Me too.

Last time you were here it was a stadium show. Do you prefer the festival setting, or are you one for a more intimate bar show and why?

They can both be fun but, I have always preferred smaller shows. The club show has higher energy. There is better synergy between the audience and the band. I think Lagwagon club shows feel like the audience is an expansion of the stage. A festival is more theatrical. The distance between the performer and the audience creates a voyeuristic atmosphere.

While we're talking shows, I'm gonna go ahead and jump in the deep end here; skatepunk culture has traditionally been one of the more male dominated sub genres of alternative music, both bands and fans, which can make it pretty challenging for those of other genders to to get involved. Have you noticed much of a progressive change over the years, in terms of new bands popping up, promoters booking mixed gender shows, and crowds being more balanced?

Absolutely! There are way more woman in rock n roll now, which is great. I love it. I never liked the boys club. It's dumb. Any anti-establishment movement should never be limited to a specific group. Otherwise it feels like nationalism. It's isolationism in a uniform. It should be a place for like minds.

All bands have their own songwriting methodology, how does it work with Lagwagon?

I usually hear a melody first. Later, I put music behind it, then bring it to the band for their stamp. It's pretty simple. Nuthin' fancy. When writing, I have little to no methodology. I used to like to have a bottle of booze and cigarettes. I don't smoke anymore and the drinks can lead to, well, you know. Haha. When writing music I do best in solitude. A long drive alone has become the atmosphere of choice for writing lyrics. Some part of my brain that I don't need is occupied by the operation of the vehicle. I do have a lyric writing partner now though and once I hear what the song asking for, we get together and hash it out. It's important to have other creative people to bounce the ideas around.

How do you maintain the level of angst that appears to have fuelled your songwriting for so long, without getting overly jaded?

Hahaha. That's a great question. I don't think I can be certain when it comes to that conundrum. Haha... I have definitely felt a need to step back at times. All the negative ideas that come from the view and my feelings about it can be consuming. I am a bit jaded at this point in my life. Connection to a hive is beautiful but there is often profound sadness in the destruction of beauty and enough of these shattering revelations will drive you mad or leave you numb. As they say, writing is somewhat cathartic but, you can overdose on self-analysis and interpretation. I don't want to be so self aware or judgmental. Empathy is the key. Something I regularly remind myself to remember.

is one of my all-time favourite albums, but I feel like the recording doesn't do the songs justice, particularly the drums (forgive me for being blunt). Do you agree, and are there any plans to re-record?

Well, we never could re-record the drums because the drummer is no longer with us. Derrick Plourde was incredible, one of the greatest. I don't think his best is on that album necessarily. Sometimes old records don't stand up to modern records dynamically. I just look at it as part of the character of that album, that era, and that period of time. A historic time stamp.

Can you tell us about the cover art of Railer?

It's just a reflection of a time, the early 90s, a time we are often associated with. Guys like that started showing up at skate parks. The word 'Railer' comes from our area's skater and surfer slang. That guy would definitely have been called 'Railer' by us back then. It's a kind of funny word. Negative but silly, so not too heavy. We wanted the album cover to be light hearted and reflect the era as much as the music on the album does.

What is your favourite band from Aotearoa and why?

Well, admittedly, I am not familiar enough with bands from NZ to make that call. Haha. Sorry. I recently listened to a lot of bands before we figured out the line-up for the gigs there. Those are always bands that have been submitted to us and you really can't make a judgment call based on a song or two and no experience with the band live. There were not many punk bands from there that made it to my ears when I was a kid. Someone needs to show me what I'm missing.

And one final question to end on; Lagwagon formed in 1990, you're still on tour in 2020. What can we expect from Lagwagon in 2030?

Lagwagon as 'Section Eight' formed in late 1987 (before line-up on first LP). In 1989 I joined the band and we got the original line up together. It doesn't matter much. I just like to point out that they preexisted my involvement. I don't really know what to expect. More music hopefully. Maybe an E.P. Lots of touring.

Thanks heaps for your time, seeya at the show!

Thank you! See ya!


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Lagwagon - Cancelled
Sat 21st Mar 8:00pm
Galatos, Auckland
Lagwagon - Cancelled
Sun 22nd Mar 8:00pm
San Fran, Wellington