Joey Cape

Joey Cape Lagwagon
Foto: Maria Graul

Vergangenen Montag hat sich Joey Cape vor dem Konzert der Scorpios im Bei Chéz Héinz in Hannover die Zeit für ein Interview mit uns genommen. Wer Joey Cape ist, bedarf wohl keiner weiteren Erklärungen (für die, die es tatsächlich nicht wissen: Joey Cape ist/war Songwriter, Sänger und Gitarrist in Bands wie Lagwagon, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes und Bad Astronaut). Nur so viel sei gesagt: So sympathisch wie er aussieht war auch das Interview!

How did you guys meet eachother?

Joey: I think I met Tony just because of our bands, you know. I don´t know the exact day I met Tony. I really don´t remember it. But I do remember the day I met Jon. Just because it was a little bit different. I think I probably met Tony on a Fat Tour, the first time we played a show together. Oh you know what? Gilman Street. It was! I remember that we played with Pennywise and NOFX. I met him there.

(Tony (No Use for A Name): I think it was 1981.)

Wow. Isn´t that impressive? I met Jon when we played a show with Lagwagon and Jon’s old band in Denver, Colorado. Jon lives near there and his band opened the show and I kind of never forget it because they weren´t a punk band, they were more like a rock band and the Lagwagon fans didn´t like them at all, I think (laughs). So after they played I went backstage and Jon was just sitting like by himself. You know, he wears his big glasses but he was like a little kid then. And I remember that I felt sorry for him. And I was kinda like “Hey man, what is going? It was a good show!” because they were great but some of our fans just can´t think outside of the box I guess. And we start talking and we have been great friends ever since. Yeah… That is a long answer! (laughs)

How is the cooperation between you and the other guys while recording and touring?

I think it is great. When songwriters have been doing liaison like us there is some degree of natural respect and certainly like assured admiration for the craft and so there is automatically a kind of bound that will happen anytime that you do these kinds of tours. An acoustic guitar is sort of a means to strip down things to the primal state of a song. So automatically it is kind of fun but on top of that, that´s it: We love to get drunk together. We love to hang out together and just partying and have a good time. We all get along really well. There is a great synergy between the three of us which is why we did the Scorpio record. And Brian as well. I am not even mentioning Brian Wahlstrom who is just one of the nicest guys I know and he is a great musician. So it is a lot of fun, very cool. I think if we hadn´t done a tour together, we hadn´t felt the energy that we feel together.

At the moment there are quite a lot of singers of famous and important punkrock bands who start a solo career. Is it a new trend or how would you describe it?

I think it is misunderstood. I think it appears to be new but almost every songwriter that I know writes songs on an instrument. If you are home you don´t play a song on an electric guitar. No one does that. They play an acoustic guitar. So naturally anybody who is playing music for a long time plays acoustic guitar or piano. And in our case it is acoustic. I think for a lot of these people that are doing that, it´s two things. One: Finally doing something that they have been doing before their bands existed and two: it´s an answer to sort of an economic change in music in the world and everything. It is very unexpensive to grab a guitar and a bag pack and just go on tour. I don´t have to organize anything with agents or the rest of the band members or crew members to go and play a show. Somebody calls me and says: “Hey Joey, do you want to come and play a show?” and I go: “Yeah I will go!” and I grab my bag pack and my guitar and I am out the door. I think that a lot of people that were making and living music have had to subsidize the time off the road with the solo stuff. But again, I have to say that most of the people I know do this acoustic solo thing because this is what we do. We are playing music. So it happens that a lot of people were starting it at the same time. I have been playing acoustic guitar for 30 years. I never really wanted to play live. I was always scared of it. And on some point, probably 10 years ago I got to do this. Just for my own. And it turned out to be really fun!

So it is not just because you are tired of punkrock?

Not at all. I love all the bands I am in. I play in like seven bands. And they are all a little different I think. I just love music and like I said, you can´t tour the way we used to tour. In the beginning with Lagwagon we were doing 180 shows a year. I can´t do that anymore. It is not because I am too old. I mean, I don´t want to do that. I have a daughter and I want to be home with my family and stuff. But it is not because of those things, it´s because you just can´t do that anymore! You run out of places to go. On the old days you just go and go and go and go. I could play in Germany four or three times a year. There would be some people that will be like “Really? You are back? Come on…”. But you could just keep going and it is great. But you just can´t do that. It keeps long organizational things and finances just changed behind music in so many ways, from very big artists to very small artists.

But you are still on tour a lot!

I am on tour all the time! (laughs) I can´t do it more than I do it because I choose to be home.

How do you stay in contact with your daughter? Because she is pretty small, isn´t she?

Yeah, she is seven years old. I talk to her every day on the phone and we skype on my phone. Very unexpensive! And I also do very short tours. I am home for two or three weeks and then I go on tour for two or three weeks. She doesn´t know anything different. Her whole life her dad has been gone. You know, she drops me off of the airport and she is just playing with her I-Pod Touch and she is like “Oh yeah, see you later Dad! When will you be back?”. It is normal to her. It is upset sometimes but we are okay. I might be more sensitive about it than her.

What do you think about the attitude and the music of the younger punkrock bands, the new generation?

I don´t have much of an opinion on these things because there are so many different bands and I learned a long time ago that you really can´t judge a book by its cover. There are so many bands I have heard the music and I have some sort of idea what they think, how they think, who they are. And then I meet them and I am so often completely surprised by how different they are than what I would have imagine by their lyrics. Because of that I guess that it is important not to place judgment on people based on their age or of what their interpretation of punkrock is, because everyone is different ages. You grow up in different times. My interpretation of punkrock has nothing to do with Lagwagon. But I am almost 45 years old. I grew up on late 70s and early 80s punkrock. So I just don´t play that kind of punkrock. But I have many many times met oldschool punkrock typed bands that are much younger than me and they were like “Uhh, Lagwagon…fucking Skatepunk…”. And then they meet me and I am like “Go for it, guy. What do you wanna know about what you like?” Because I know everything about it because I was actually alive then! You can´t be bitter but what you learned from these things is really important. I don´t pass judgment. I definitely have taste just like anyone else. There are some things that I enjoy and some things that I don´t. I just like good songs. I actually don´t care much of what kind of sound it is. What matters to me is that I can feel what the person is feeling. And I do sometimes think that some bands are not good for the world.

For example?

Well, that´s with it… No Use For A Name! (laughs)

Would you sometimes rather have a normal job in an office for example?

Oh yeah! Well, sometimes. Most of the time I know that I am very lucky. Most of the time I certainly appreciate everything that I have got. And I often say if this was it, the last show I have ever played, I would never look back on it and think “Aww, man, I could have done so much more!” or something. I have been doing this forever and I was fortune enough not to have a job for a long, long time. Because this is not a job. It is sort of a job but it is art. I am very lucky. But there is a lot of time I am worried about especially know what I am going to do. It is normal for guys like us, to say “Hmm…but what´s about when no one comes to the shows anymore? (laughs) What is it about, when it is really over?” because we have families. We didn´t learn how to do anything else. So sometimes I worry a little when I think about it. It would be nice if I had another career. But that´s life. For anybody else of us. A lot of people have jobs they don´t like.

Is there a special band you always love to go on tour with?

Oh God, there are so many! There are a lot of bands we have become really close friends with over the years. But you don´t live near them so touring is the only chance to really spend time with them. We have a lot of those: Bouncing Souls, we did a tour last year with No Use For A Name and that was great. There are too many. But pretty much every band I have become friends with I love to tour with. It feels like you are in a band with them so it is awesome. What I love is that there are so many different bands over the world we have become friends with over the years. And it is really interesting that when you travel and see people from different cultures, their backgrounds are different, the way they act is different and the way they live is different. It is the same with the band. If you tour with an Irish band you basically know a little bit Ireland for a while. If you tour with an Italian band you are kind of in Italy for a while. So this is really cool and even in America there is so much dialect in differences in cultures within America. And if we tour with say a band from Boston or a band from the east coast – they are all different kinds of people. And it´s really cool. It is like having a home full of great friends that are completely different. And I think bands often try to change it up a little bit and tour with different bands to keep touring more interesting.

You have got a lot of plates spinning. What is coming after this tour?

For me, I am just building a studio in my house which is really boring…No one wants to hear about that. I am gonna do some recording, I think. I want to do a split, 7inches and stuff like that with people, acoustic stuff, but for the next months I will figure out how to use the new room. And I think in January next year is a Lagwagon-Tour. We haven´t toured a lot. Not much anymore. I don´t think that we will do a new record for the tour because we have this re-release of the first five Lagwagon albums coming out and it´s a big enough thing that we just tour to support it.

Do you prefer playing acoustic shows or normal punk rock shows?

I think my favorite shows right now to do are the acoustic shows. It is really relaxed and you tour with people you are not in a band with, so you tour with different people all the time. And it is all about music. There is no band politics. Bands are like families. Imagine this: Getting on a bus with your family for like 20 years. It is great, I love them, I love my band, but it is nice to do this. I am still not over this, I like this a lot. Especially because the change. And the atmosphere is very laid back, it is very easy. But on the other hand I adjusted to tour with Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and it was really fun! It is just punkrock! I haven´t done anything with Lagwagon for so long, I am getting older (laughs). I don´t want to end up like Ozzy Osbourne. I don´t want to be him! So we will see. I am still on better shapes than him but it´s not that much longer (laughs)! So let´s talk about if I like it more to play an acoustic show or a punkrock show. I prefer the acoustic stuff still but I miss the other stuff so it is nice to go back. But when I think about the Gimmes it is like “Yeah! I love doing that!”. But when you have played a lot of shows you are really tired. You feel like you are playing football. It is kind of exhausting. You know, all I know is this: Me as a young guy watching old punk bands and a singer that was just very old I would be like “What a dick!”. Like The Freeze. Anybody wants to see that! And I don´t want to be that guy. When I look like 50 on stage, I am gonna quit. It´s the rule!

When are you doing some new stuff with Lagwagon? We know that you probably get this question every day…

Yeah, I know, but it is okay. I understand that people ask this question. I don´t know. Like never. Maybe never. Or January. No, next year we are going to tour a lot. We are touring with NOFX in January which will be cool. And maybe we will start working on new music but I don´t know. There are no plans.