Lagwagon keep working miracles

WHEN a band has been together as long as Californian punk rockers Lagwagon, there has to be some secret to their success.

Frontman Joey Cape shared a few of Lagwagon’s with LIVE ahead of their show at the Cambridge this month.

‘‘I think it’s a balance of things, I think that you have to enjoy what you do and you have to do it for yourself. You have to be somewhat self-involved otherwise it’s not going to be right and obviously you have to be passionate about it,’’ Cape told LIVE. ‘‘And you have to get along. You have to have a great deal of respect for the members in your band because it’s really hard to be around the same people all the time. 

‘‘I think it’s kind of a miracle when people stay together as long as we have. And we get along now  better than we ever have.

‘‘Maybe we’re getting older, more mature or something, I don’t know ... We enjoy each other a lot, we’ve been together so long we have the same sense of humour, which I think is 95 per cent of it.’’

Lagwagon first made waves in 1988 with their unique brand of punk, which was described as ‘‘speedy, highly technical pop punk’’.  

Quickly they became one of the most influential punk acts of the ’90s, becoming the first band signed to the iconic Fat Wreck Chords. Five albums were released in the ’90s, including Duh, Trashed, Hoss and Let’s Talk About Feelings. More albums followed in the next decade and Putting Music In Its Place (remastered versions of previous releases) in 2011.

Although the band has had some line-up changes over the years, frontman Joey Cape and guitarist Chris Flippin have remained. 

Lagwagon has toured Australia regularly over the years including a 2008 tour when Frenzal Rhomb’s (and Triple J’s) Lindsay McDougall stepped in for Flippin at the last minute when the guitarist hit an immigration snag. Cape still sings McDougall’s praises: ‘‘He learned all the songs in 24hours, he’s really amazing, that guy.’’

Cape has also toured Down Under with his acoustic work as well as with pop-punk cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. He’s looking forward to coming back for this latest jaunt but regrettably will have to leave his wife and daughter at home: ‘‘I really wanted to bring my wife and daughter to Australia because it is so awesome’’.

Cape explained the band had always enjoyed playing to Aussie audiences.

‘‘It’s great, it’s a very positive energy from the crowd. It’s very fun. I think Australians just have a good time,’’ Cape said.

But he agreed the band’s audience had changed over subsequent tours: fans from the ’90s had remained loyal and some had introduced their own children to Lagwagon. And of course, there are always punk fans in each new generation.

‘‘Most bands get fans that are younger and a lot of that has to do with the kind of media they do, and since we’ve basically forgone all of that sort of thing, mostly by choice, what we do get is our original fans and then when they have kids, they get to 13 or 14 and they might come along to our show. We do get that a lot and I love it,’’ Cape said.

But it’s not just fans who have felt the impact of Lagwagon’s more than two decades in the business, it’s other bands, too.

‘‘Obviously it’s a nice feeling having bands tell you you’ve influenced them. It gets better as you get older because it’s not just kid’s bands,’’ Cape said.

 ‘‘When you hear that from a kid who is like 21, saying ‘Yeah man, your band had a huge influence on my band’, you’re like ‘That’s cool’. But when you’re touring with a band and you’re hearing it from your peers that are my age, in their 30s or whatever, and they say ‘Hey man, I’ve always liked your band’, that is what feels really cool. 

‘‘We’re starting to meet bands who are actually really successful and grew up listening to us and that’s the weird part but it feels really good.’’

For a band who came to define punk during the ’90s, what does Cape think of the genre now?

‘‘I think the essence of punk will always live on as long as there is something to rebel against, some establishment.

 ‘‘Musically speaking it’s branched out so much, I don’t know that it’s got a pure traditional sound any  more ... it’s diluted and convoluted,’’ he said.

Lagwagon play the Cambridge Hotel on November 30.

REBELS WITH A CAUSE: Lagwagon are still influencing others with their punk music.

REBELS WITH A CAUSE: Lagwagon are still influencing others with their punk music.


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