“Hang”. If this album title doesn’t sound familiar to your years by now you must have been hiding under a rock by the end of 2014 and still be hiding there. “Hang” is the album title to California, Goleta's finest punk rockers, Lagwagon. We at RMP Magazine already discussed the upcoming album last year in august with Joey Cape at the Pukkelpop festival. But we felt the urge that we needed to talk to Joey again at Jera On Air festival about the epic “Hang” album. From smoking gum to Jeff Mangum, the Caper brings us up-to-date about the entire ins and outs of Lagwagon and “Hang”.
- Hello, first off, congratulations with the new album “Hang”. Last time we met you released a teaser track (“Cog In The Machine”), now the album is out for some months. How has the response been during the recent tours?
It's been great. It's nice to have a new record and to play new songs live. The album has been probably as well received as any record we've ever made. We're really enjoying. It's cool, it feels good.
- It seems that all the long-time Fat bands are back with killer albums. In 2015 we already had Good Riddance and Strung Out, next up is Night Birds with their first Fat release. Where did this influx of killer music suddenly come from?
It just feels kind of good that some of us old guys are doing this pretty much at the same time. I like that; we're playing a lot of shows with those guys too. It feels good. There was always some sort of camaraderie with the label and over the years that sort of slowly dissolved in a way and I feel like that it's coming back. It's really a nice feeling. Especially since Fat is doing this 25th anniversary and we're doing all these shows together. It's cool; let's have a little bit of pride in where we come from.
- The band has been touring quite extensive lately. A couple of tours in Europe, you played Pukkelpop, Groezrock, now Jera On Air. Is this because of the new album and promoting it?
We might have to take a break. We always tour but once we put a record out it's always about two years of just hardcore touring. I tour a lot when the band is not touring as well. I'm pretty much always on tour.
- And One Week Records of course.
I have a five week tour in September and October with the One Week guys. Should be fun.
- Last august you already discussed One Week Records and the start-up but since then you have released six records already. What's next with One Week Records?
We're kind of dialling it back right now, rethinking some things. I don't think I will be making a new record until next year. Which is sort of a drag but Lagwagon is touring so much that I can't make time. So I'm trying to figure out a way to get around that.
- You just mentioned a drag. That leads into the next question: the song “Drag” on the new album. Do you see yourself ever quitting smoking?
I haven't smoked in five or six years. But I still chew (pulls out nicotine chewing gum). I basically just switched. Chewing gum instead of cigarettes. I actually miss smoking, I really love smoking but my lungs were not happy. I started when I was 13 and I smoked until I was 43. That's why I wrote the song. I thought, in some ways it's the most difficult thing to quit. I tried so many times. Everyone always talks about heroine and crack and speed and all that stuff. Nicotine is just as vicious. Definitely claims more lives. Just seemed like something to write a song about. That song was written quite some time ago; probably the only one song on that record. I wrote it a long time ago. But I found this version I did with the band of the song and right when I heard it I thought “This totally fits Lagwagon.” I don't know why. So I played it for them and they immediately liked it. It worked. And then they made it a lot better.
- One of my favourites on “Hang” is “One More Song”, dedicated to Tony and it has a Neutral Milk Hotel reference, ‘My aeroplane forever over the sea’.
I love that you get that. That was a record that Tony turned me on to. We toured a lot together and he was the guy who turned me into Neutral Milk Hotel and Jeff is such a great songwriter. He gave me that record and I was just like… you rarely get turned onto things, if you do what I do. It's rare that I get turned onto something I somehow missed. It's sort of the most important records in my life. He gave it to me. I had to reference it and the last time I saw him I was putting him on a plane.
- I've noticed some great shows coming up for Lagwagon soon, like the Fat Wreck 25 years show or the one with Adolescents and Agent Orange. What's next?
Oh yeah, ‘It's Not Dead’ is one show in Southern California.I saw Adolescents recently, still got it, still good. Love those bands. That whole show is amazing. Good Riddance, Descendents; it's insane. I'm going to see how it goes.Because this party is like ‘How the hell are you going to do that many bands in a day?’. There's like forty bands.And they're doing the kind of lottery-thing like on the Warped tour where you don't find out when you play until you get there. I'm actually on another tour at that time. I have to fly in 6 AM to a town near there and then take transportation to the show. Probably show up and play, because we could play at noon for all I know. And then as soon as it's over get back to the airport and back to the other town for the tour. The tour was already booked. So we had to do it and I had to take the day off.
– David Marote