Few punk bands around the world have had the same impact as legendary California outfit Lagwagon.
Since 1989 the brash upstarts have released nine studio albums through Fat Wreck Chords and toured relentlessly all over the globe, each time stepping further out from the underground band status they have been tagged with.
Such is the success afforded Lagwagon they had one of their songs – May 16 – featured in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 alongside Rancid, Green Day and Offspring. While not enjoying the breakout success afforded those bands, Lagwagon have remained content with their role in a musical revolution, shunning the mainstream in favour of the working class groundswell and cementing their music in the hearts of many purists.
Next week Lagwagon return to Australia and New Zealand for their special fan By Request Tour, with vocalist Joey Cape joining HEAVY to discuss the shows.
“We’ve been doing this for so long that I often forget,” Cape laughed during the intro. “I love coming out there,” he continued. “It wasn’t that long ago that I was there. I did some solo shows and I did a tour with Me First And The Gimme Gimmes so two times in a year… that’s pretty great.”
We ask him what non-essential items he always travels with on tour.
“Ooof, fuck, that’s tough,” he stalled. “I’m a light packer. It’s a hassle to carry too much stuff (laughs). I guess I could say Nicorette gum. You can get it anywhere, but I always bring a boatload of that shit with me because I’m such a nicotine addict. That’s all I can think of… Maybe reading glasses. I’ll often bring ten pairs of glasses in case I lose them, it’s totally dumb. But I guess those are kind of essential. You can’t see without them (laughs). And me without nicotine… not fun for anybody.”
As the name of the tour suggests, fans were invited to vote for what songs they wanted to hear Lagwagon play, so we ask Cape if the band had much interest in that idea.
“We did,” he offered. “It’s funny, because it’s always a risk when you do these kinds of things. I don’t know that Lagwagon’s ever done this before, but I’ve done it quite a few times with solo shows, especially the streaming ones. And it’s risky. Because you never know, there might be a whole bunch of people that just want that one song that you just can’t do, you know what I mean? And the reality is, that never happens. Bands that don’t have hits, still have hits. There’s just popular songs, and there’s about four of them that 90% of the requests are always for. It’s like, ‘oh, man, alright, we’ll do that for you guys’ (laughs). We don’t do that in every single show we play (laughs). I haven’t actually looked at the submissions yet, so in theory, what you do is you do a different set for each town. Now, we’ve run into a little bit of trouble with that. Our great big giant guitar player is not able to join us because he has had some health issues, and we just found out that he cannot come. I may not be doing the right thing saying this – you’re the first to hear of it – but because of that we’re going to have to use a fill-in guy, so he’s gonna have his work cut out.”
In the full interview, Joey tells us if there are any songs he is hoping aren’t on the request list, playing on a cruise ship in Sydney, what we can expect from Lagwagon live, the early days of the band, resisting the lure of mainstream, his three commandments of punk and more.