Joey Cape

Anyone who has ever known me knows what a huge Lagwagon fan I am and how much I love Joey Cape and every musical project he does. In 2010, I was given the opportunity to street team for his band Bad Astronaut. It had been about five years since the death of drummer Derrick Plourde and Joey had announced that Bad Astronaut would play only a few shows. I didn’t want to miss this and spent a lot of time walking around with my young son in his stroller posting flyers for the show. It would be at this show that I would finally get to meet Joey Cape in person. Fast forward two years and here I am again finding out that Joey has a new band and is coming to town and needs a street team. 

Naturally, I jumped on it and sent off an email requesting more info. It then occurred to me that I could possibly get an interview. I sent another email requesting and interview and within a few hours I had my “Yes” response that I had been crossing my fingers for. Each day leading up to this moment seemed to drag on and on and take what felt like ages to get here, but then it came and I didn’t know what to do with myself.  When I met Joey at Brick by Brick they were just finishing their sound check. I approached him as he was exiting the stage and he immediately remembered me and gave me a huge hug. I totally melted, but quickly gathered myself together for this interview. I hope you all enjoyed it, I know I did.

Tunage: Joey, Thank you so much for doing this interview. This has been a long time dream of mine, so thank you so much for making it come true. How has the Bad loud tour been so far? What’s been your favorite part and are we your last stop?

Joey: The tour has been great, really, really fun! My favorite part would probably be last night’s show at The Viper Room. It’s a really great place and the sound is good. We had a lot of great friends come out and then we had an after party. Yes, you are our last stop then I go home for one day and head back out on tour with Tony Sly. We’re doing an East Coast tour for about 10 days then I do an extra week by myself. Then I’ll be on tour with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. I don’t get really any time off.

T: What’s different about Bad Loud compared to Lagwagon and Bad Astronaut?

J: I think it’s the only band that I have that is a Rock N’ Roll band. It’s just rock music. I think the Bad Astronaut stuff has a kind of progressive element to it and I think that there is more experimental stuff going on. Those records are built almost entirely in the studio, it’s a different kind of art all together whereas Bad Loud is pretty much live and just simple music. The way it differs from Lagwagon is there is absolutely no punk to it. It has maybe a little bit of a Husker Du thing if it gets punk at all, but it’s a little bit of a Rock N’ Roll punk thing. Maybe a little Ramones like, but for me it’s the only thing that I have that’s entirely disconnected from things I’ve done in the past. It’s cool and I dig it!

T: When did you decide to start the Bad Loud project?

J: It was kind of an accident actually. I have a friend, Asher Simon who’s kind of young guy, 22. I’ve known him since he was nine and we’ve been hanging out a lot for the past few years and at one point I told him we should do something together, make a record or something, record some music. So we went to my really good friend Luke’s house to record some stuff  and basically all we were playing was Rock N’ Roll versions of my acoustic songs. That’s all Bad Loud really is, just stuff from my acoustic records and it turned into much more than that. Then after the record was finished, I thought well, maybe we should tour.

T: The last time I saw Me First was a year ago at The House of Blues. So, are you looking forward to playing with the Gimmes? Where will you be playing?

J: Yeah, I love playing with the Gimmes. It’s always really fun. We’re playing in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego then we go to Europe. The first three shows are warm up shows. We haven’t played together since that SD HOB show. 

T: How long have you been writing songs? I noticed that your songs are very poetic. Do you pull that from emotions or personal experiences? Do you feel that over the years that your writing styles have changed? Do you feel that over the years that your writing styles have changed?

J: I think I started writing when I was thirteen or fourteen and it was probably some crappy metal song, some anthem. Yeah, I always felt that you have to kind of have to figure out who you are as a songwriter. I think you kind of learn more about the process and little tricks along the way to kind of get closer to something that you think sounds good and I hate to say this, but for me I try to write something that’s really pure and true and the only way to do that is to just draw from actual experience, otherwise, you’re writing fiction and I think that it’s easy to write a novel or graphic novel, you have more time and space, lyrics are poetry. The thing is, if you can write a line that can be read out of contrast, it could be totally trite. But if you’re actually, truly feeling something and you write something and you blend it with some music it becomes so powerful and because of that, you can’t fake it. The upside is that it’s really easy for me to write, the downside is, anyone who has read my lyrics knows me too well because I’ve been writing songs that way forever. Has my writing changed over the years? I’m going to say it’s evolved. Stylistically, you’re writing will change as life changes and you’re true to yourself.

T: Being on tour so much, do you miss your daughter Violet and your family? Do you ever bring them on tour? Do they listen to your music?

J: Yes I do, mostly my daughter because, it’s different somehow with my wife. We’ve been together for a long time and we’re adults so it doesn’t get as bad. But my daughter, that’s like heroine to me. If I’m away from her too long I just start to fall apart, it’s gnarly sometimes. Like when I get pictures of her, she just got a haircut yesterday and they sent me a picture and I literally almost cried it’s was a little weird, I felt kind of like a wimp. She had this cute outfit on and she’s a gymnast and she said she wanted her hair to look like Nadia Comaneci. Yes, I want bring them on tour, I ask them, but they just don’t want to come. My wife, she likes to stay home and she doesn’t drink. If she wants to go to a show then it’s a novelty thing; like, Van Halen’s coming to town, let’s go see that. I get her out about once every year, but I will say this, every once in a while they’ll come with the Gimmes because we do really cool stuff. For instance, when we play several shows in Hawaii, it’s more like a vacation. And she knows what Lagwagon is like and I think that she wants to keep Violet away from that for as long as she can. For a really good period of time Violet got very into my acoustic stuff, which is great for me because I want her to like my music. She doesn’t like Lagwagon music at all. I don’t think she really gets punk music or fast music. When she hears fast music, she wants it’s to be some techno music, but I made a vow to try not to tell her what to listen to. I literally buy her songs on iTunes and cringe when it’s like Keisha or something like that. And I’ll tell her you know, hey this girl Adele can really sing, she’s got a killer voice, the lyrics great, your dad totally approves of this. But it’s cute, because to her I’m famous and so she thinks I’m this expert and she’ll come to me and ask, “Dad, is this singer auto tuned?” and I’ll tell her yes and she sighs and asks if some other artist can sing and I’ll tell her no she’s not a singer. I think I lost her with the acoustic stuff, but my wife says she’ll want to listen to my music when I’m away because she misses me, but it’s for only twenty seconds and she’ll say, “That’s good enough. I don’t really like it I just wanted to hear his voice.” It’s so cool.

T: Awe, that is so sweet. So, so you have a favorite Lagwagon album?

J: I’ve answered this differently over the years. I’m sure that I’ve times where I can definitively say yes, but today, not really. I always try to be consistent, but unfortunately I don’t have a good memory, so I forgot what I used to say. But when you go through the process of writing the song, rehearsing the song, then rehearsing it with a band, and finally recording it… I have to be away from those songs for a while. The cool thing about the acoustic stuff is I can play old Lagwagon stuff that I had forgotten about acoustically and every so often, someone will come up and say I should do a particular song acoustically or ask why I don’t play certain Lagwagon songs, so I try it out and find that it was a really good idea.

T: Can we expect another Bad Astronaut album? How about another Lagwagon album? How long do you plan on playing with Lagwagon, however long you can or until you can’t?

J: I doubt it. We’ve talked about another album sometimes. All the bands I play in kind of corner me every once in a while asking when I or if I would like to make a new record. I know it would be really rewarding and awesome to make another Bad Astronaut record, but it seems like a very routine task and it’s the hardest thing and I really want to make another Lagwagon album. I’m getting pretty close to where I can’t play with Lagwagon anymore. I broke a rib at the last tour and it’s the second or third time I’ve done that. I was wrestling with Chris Flippin and he’s so fun to wrestle with. He’s this gentle giant and you can climb him like a tree and I’ll be choking he face and he’ll just take me and gently push me down on the couch. But every once in a while it goes wrong and so this time I got a broken rib. But it’s getting to that point. I don’t want to be like Ozzy coming out on stage not sure of what’s going on, can’t sing. But I’m going to say, probably fifty, we have a few more years left to go.

T: You actually have a line in a Lagwagon song, “Falling Apart” from Blaze, “I’ll never be Ozzy, on stage when I’m fifty.” Would you like to comment on that?

J: Yeah, every time I would singe that line or just look at it, I would think to myself, “Well, that’s bullshit.” But what else am I going to do? I’ve got nothing, I don’t have any other qualifications and it still pays pretty good, this job and I love it. But fifty might be good to call it for Lagwagon, but I won’t quit playing all together.

T: Who are some of your major influences? If we were to turn on your iPod, what or who would be on your playlist?

J: The Beatles and Garfunkel are huge as far as songwriting goes, I can’t deny that. Probably a lot of old metal like, Sabbath and Ted Nugent.  I also had cool parents and they listened to some cool music. They just got music and my dad was a classical buff. I got musically groomed by my parents a little bit. Hmmm, what have I been listening too? It’s weird, because I could say that I’m listening to Arcade Fire, but I’ve been listening a lot to the new Bruce Springsteen record, I really like it a lot. I only like a couple of his albums and I’m really not a huge Springsteen fan, but the new record, I like. He’s always been this commentator for America a very blur collar kind of ray, but his new record is like a letter to America saying, what the fuck happened? It’s sad and dark and the lyrics are awesome.

T: What’s different from playing with the Gimmes than Lagwagon?

J: Well, one band is super easy and doesn’t matter at all and has no consequence to anyone including the band and the other one is art. One actually matters because it takes time and we actually care, but the other one is like a total vacation. I always feel so fortunate to be doing this because it pays well and it’s always fun to get paid to go to a party.

T: Where is your favorite place to tour? What is the best show you’ve ever played?

J: Well, it changes all the time. Let me think about that for a second. Probably, Japan because it’s like Disneyland for adults. It’s so ridiculous, Tokyo is crazy. I like going to a lot of different places too, the beach, I like the beach a lot. I really like this place called Brugge in Belgium. It’s an amazing place, I could live there. The best show I ever played? Well, I don’t know, I mean, they’re all kind of good and bad. I don’t really like being on stage and I never really wanted to play shows. I got into music because I like music and I like the creative process a lot. I never really like playing live. I have fun doing different things now because I’m branching out more and they seem a little fresh.  Every once in a while we just have a great show and it feels great and that’s always the best show. When everything lines up and where you have what you feel like is a nearly flawless show, everybody’s in a great mood and that synergy is happening, but that happens a lot and that’s good.

T: What is some advice that you would give to a young band or musician trying to get their name out there? What is something you want your fans to know or gain from your music?

J: I would say, play music that you like and have no expectations whatsoever of any kind of success because I don’t think there is any real structure or design anymore for bands. It’s too easy to get your stuff out there and therefore everything is really oversaturated. Definitely make sure that it’s what you want to do as an artist and that you love the art and live for it. Do it for a while for girls and beer, but if you’re not bleeding like if you don’t really love it, don’t think you’re going to get anywhere because I don’t think it really even matters if the band is super good anymore. Even if you can get some really good press, it’s still hard to get your name out there and get anywhere. What do I want people to gain from my music? That’s a dangerous question. I like to think that if someone listens and reads the lyrics long enough that some of it would maybe get into them and hopefully not read the negative things like contempt and empathy and tolerance. But I just write about my shit and it’s completely up to the listener to interpret what they’re hearing. I hope that I have a positive effect on my listeners.

T:  Dead or alive, who would you love to play a show with?

J: Can I change it to who would I love to write with? Because, I don’t really care to be playing with anybody, I’m just not that way.  Because if I say, “Yeah man! I want to jam with Jimmy Hendrix,” I don’t want to get on stage and be blown away by this amazing guitar player. Elliot Smith would be at the top of my list to write with, I mean I can’t say John Lennon first. But I would like to write with him too. It would have to be a time machine thing. It has to be a certain era of that person and I think I would like to write with the guys from Arcade Fire and Ben Gibbard.  I would love to write with Springsteen, I just think it would be weird, it would be different. I mean, there are a million people I would love to write with when I really start thinking about it. I would love to write with Rush, I want to get in there with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. Neil Pert, he can go. His lyrics are a little goofy.

T: What’s the meaning behind the name Bad Loud?

J: It was my pirate name at my daughter’s fourth birthday and she had a pirate and mermaid themed party. So I made this pirate outfit, but it was all punk. I took some Dickies and chopped them all up and I had black eyeliner, I looked like Mike Ness if he were a pirate back in 1982 or something.  Then I had a bandana around my head and I just took a white t-shirt and wrote Bad Loud. My daughter said, “Your pirate name should be Bad Loud, Pirate Bad Loud, because you’re loud and you’re bad,” or something like that and I just thought that was so cool. So I had it on this shirt and I guess it was Fat Mike and Kent and they were at the party and Fat Mike said, “You should fucking dress like that all the time man! You look cool!” and I was like what? And Kent said it was a cool band name and I was just starting this stuff with my friend Asher. So I just decided to use it, it’s simple and it’s universal and I figured my music will probably be more popular in Germany than people will in America so Germany will probably like Bad Loud (said in a Joey’s best German accent). Except for the fact that now people are always asking me why my bands are all called bad something, but Bad Astronaut is the only other band name with bad in it, so I don’t know.

T: What do you like about our San Diego music scene? What keeps you coming back here?

J: Well, I like to go places where people come to my shows and that’s about it. I have good friends here and I think I can identify with southern California beach communities because I’m from Santa Barbara. You wake and go to the beach, go surfing, skate, and abuse the English language.

T: Well Joey, thank you again so much for doing this and making one of my dreams come true. It has truly been a huge honor. I just have one last question. Can you tell our readers something personal about yourself?

J: Oh boy, didn’t get enough out the lyrics? It’s all there you know. Well, I have a third ball, I mean it’s not really a ball, but I don’t know what it is. I better get to the doctor on the one.

Find out More about Joey Cape and purchase the Bad Loud digital album with a simple click. Joey is also in Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Stop on over to these sites to get more info on album releases, merchandise, tour dates, and much more. 

Check out the "Tribute To Tony Sly of No Use For A Name" playlist here in memory of Tony Sly.

Written by Lili Mooneyham

- Tunage

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