Hanging on hold

California punk vets Lagwagon return with first new record since 2005

One of your older sibling’s favourite punk bands is back.

Lagwagon - currently comprised of vocalist Joey Cape, guitarists Chris Rest and Chris Flippin, bassist Joe Raposo and drummer Dave Raun - formed in 1990, signed with iconic punk label Fat Wreck Chords and haven’t released a full-length record since Resolve dropped in 2005. That is, until this last month’s Hang.

Inspiration for the 12-track LP came in 2011 with the release of Putting Music in Its Place, a box set containing the band’s first five records and some other goodies.

“I’m always writing and there have been times in our history where I have brought songs to the band, we worked really hard on them, but we ended up not releasing them in the end because they just didn’t feel right,” Cape says on the phone from his home in San Francisco. “We were only playing those old songs live around that time and all of a sudden something clicked. It kind of changed the chemistry and synergy of the band.”

The result is Lagwagon’s eighth full-length record. It showcases some of its darkest material to date, though the band has never been as goofy as some of its Californian punk peers.

“For the longest time we always had the silliest album covers and people would label us as this silly pop-punk band from California, while I think we only have around 10 to 12 songs that are actually humorous and everything else we’ve written is pretty dark,” he says.

Cape adds he spent way more time working on the lyrics than he has in the past.

“I didn’t just write about issues in my life that I thought were troubling me,” he says. “This time I wrote specifically about my view of the world right now and I kind of like to joke that this is my old bitter man record because it kind of is.”

The other members of Lagwagon were also more involved in this record than they have been previously.

“In the past I’d almost completely write and arrange the songs before bringing them to the guys, but this one was totally different that way,” he says. “I wanted to be completely collaborative and I wanted us to build this record from the ground up.”

New tunes, such as “The Cog in the Machine” are heavier and definitely more metallic than the ‘90s skate-punk Lagwagon is known for, while “One More Song” begins with Cape softly singing over some piano chords and serves as a fitting tribute to Tony Sly, the No Use For a Name front man who died in 2012.

Those are all songs you can expect to hear when Lagwagon hits the Garrick Centre for its first Winnipeg show since 2008, especially since the band wants to play Hang in its entirety.

“I think we can do it and we’re going to try,” he says. “This is the first time we’ve made a record and we’re just thinking ‘Who cares?’ All of us love this record and want to play the whole thing.”

Published in Volume 69, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 12, 2014)

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