What happens when you put Mitch McSteamy on a tour bus with Joey Cape from Lagwagon? You’re about to find out…
How’s tour going so far man?
Reeally well, it’s almost over. We have tonight and tomorrow night then we’re done. But it’s been surprisingly good. And I only say surprisingly because, you, know, some of the places that we’ve played on this tour are normally not so great, attendance wise. But the attendance has been really good this tour and the energy has been really good, we’ve been playing pretty well… So it’s just one of those tours that was great, it was great. So stoked.
How stoked are you to be going to Japan and Australia next?
I’m definitely stoked, I love going to Australia and I love going to Japan, but we only have 2 days off. I’d be pretty psyched to have like a week off, because just before this tour I did a 4 or 5 week tour so I’m ready for some time off. I don’t get off tour until the middle of December. So it’s kinda like, two of my favorite places to go to in the World are Japan and Australia, but I’m kinda like “Blaah” so it’d be nice to ya know have some family time.
(transitional conversation that is not interesting)
I actually got a chance to catch you guys at It’s Not Dead Fest, how’d you like playing that?
It was epic, it was a really amazing festival, there was so many good bands, it was almost like a class reunion kinda thing cuz we know a lot of the people and it was super fun. But for me it was tough, I was on tour at the time and I played Denver the night before and Tucson the night after so I had to take 2 flights both ways, there was all kinds of plane trouble…barely made it and barely made it back. So I had like a 48 hour window with no sleep in it and uh, yeah I probably would have had a much better time if I wasn’t just sooo exhausted. Yeah it was just one of those things.
So speaking of fests, what is your favorite fest. Or favorite fest you’ve gotten to play?
OH BOY! Umm, it would most likely be, one of the European ones. I don’t know if I have one. In the states I really like Punk Rock Bowling because it’s just a really fun weekend you know? It’s like, you just go out there and destroy yourself for 3 days, see a million bands. That one’s awesome. The Fest in Florida is great, that ones always really fun too. Um Pouzza Fest. In Montreal is great. They’re all good, but I think Amnesia is pretty good that’s a good one too, But A lot of the European festivals are just really good, They’ve been doing it for longer periods of time and they’ve kinda perfected the festival. OH! and Fun Fun Fun Fest is really good too the one in Boston? I mean they’re all kinda good. I think there’s only been one festival in recent times that we did in Australia, they have a festival that’s been going on for a while called Sound Wave. It’s a very famous festival and that’s not a good festival.
But I thought you loved Australia?
They just don’t get the model. Like, the guy who runs it just doesn’t get the model. What the European festivals create, that a lot of the really good US ones sort of mimicked in a way, but made their own is they create an atmosphere where it’s fun to go to and hang out with other band members and it’s fun for people to go to, and hang out with their friends. The sound wave is like, um, man it’s like there’s no bar backstage for the bands to like drink at together. The whole vibe of it was like “I don’t wanna be here” and that’s not what you’re supposed to create. You should create an area where like.. you know, it’s like Pukklepop in Belgium…I’ve played that festival and been sitting 5 feet away from Iron Maiden you know, and everyone’s just like hanging out and it’s not weird at all. we’re all just having beers you know, because it’s a little bit more like there’s a No rock star thing, you know? It’s one of those festivals, where everyone is just hanging out. and that’s…that’s awesome. That’s really cool. You know cuz like, when you’re a kid there’s bands that you never thought you were gonna be sitting next to. You could just be wrapping with a guy in a band you grew up listening to and it’s just…it’s just great.
Another really good one, that’s probably one of the best is Ruisrock and that’s in Belgium too.
German festivals are all pretty nuts too.
The Germans are nuts dude, every fest you see come out of there is just chaos. It’s Awesome! The turnouts are insane. I feel like in the states we don’t really even have big enough spaces to put on these sorts of massive shows that they have over there.
Yeah any country side you really get the best festivals, that’s usually the deal and uh you know there’s the Writing Festival. They’re all a little different, we’ve done them all multiple times and so, you know it’s kinda something that’s good about it. they’re all a little different. There’s a lot of really small festivals in Europe that are really amazing too. There’s one in I Think Slovenia. I’m gonna have to fact check that, cuz I’m all tired haha
I won’t quote you on that haha
Eh, it’s fine haha, but yeah it’s called Punk Rock Holiday. That one is in like this REALLY beautiful setting. I mean it’s just awesome. Really really cool, yeah. It’s a smaller one, but it’s really good.
In terms of songs from yester year, you know a lot of bands change their points of view from when they originally wrote the songs and it doesn’t necessarily reflect who they are anymore. Do you have any songs like that that you personally feel like don’t really reflect how your points of view are anymore?
Um Noo, no, not really. there’s some songs..well there’s really like one song that was sort of a kinda joke song on our first record it’s called Beer Goggles and I’ve said this many times, I mean.. at the time..it’s like when you’re young and you write a song that’s kind of a joke and it’s funny because it’s absurd and sometimes.. well I’ll just say it. Sexism and racism, these things where it’s like a given that you don’t partake in those points of view, so you write a song…like a song that’s meant to be funny because it’s sort of a horrible thing to talk about, but it’s also a thing that’s a real thing you know, but it’s a completely stupid song and it was meant to be stupid, but you know we caught some flak for that in the early days, when the sort of PC culture existed like Maximum Rock n Roll days and the Gilman kids, and stuff..And rightfully so, and that was a lesson. But that’s really the only one, cuz we hadn’t toured yet. We didn’t quite realize that we can’t make those jokes you know? Other than that, that’s the only song I ever wrote that was like that. Everything else we’ve ever written, if it’s humorous at all, it’s self deprecating. And all the political overtones, everything that I’ve written about, those things, those were all just issues that were actually, directly in my life. So I was simply just writing and you can’t ever look back on those things and and feel you’ve grown out of them, because..what happened happened. So there isn’t an issue there. I do think a lot of people when they’re younger have bold Ideas, and when they get older of course they gain more wisdom and the more wisdom you have the more you know, the more you know, you become more humble you become more balanced in the way you see things and there’s certainly like, those kinda things, that happen to a lot of people. I don’t know if they happen to me because, the things I was writing about were very personal things. Until “Hang” I don’t know that we really had all that many songs that were really political as far as governments go. That wasn’t really our bag. Only a couple songs. We had a song called malevolent ..yeah so not really any regrets there. It’s kind of a nice thing..just Beer Goggles.
But it’s fun to make fun of that and I’m just lucky that there’s only one. That’s a pretty good percentage (Both Laughing)
Now with that being said, when you did switch to that political kind of mindset for Hang, is there any reason specifically that you kind of decided “ok let’s do something political now”. was there anything that specifically charged that?
For me it was just a matter of, I didn’t want..well first of all, we hadn’t made a record in a long time and I felt like if we’re gonna make another record it’s gotta be the best thing that we can do and I want it to be a little more grandiose in some ways than things were done in the past. I don’t just wanna write a whole flock of new songs that are just the latest issues in Joey capes life, you know, “these are my newest dead friends” and this is the latest version of dishonesty or disloyalty or traumatic experiences or whatever. I didn’t want to do that, I knew I wanted to do something a little more..bold, in that regard. But the opinions I chose to write about in Hang, for the most part were, nothing new in my life. So, what the real catalyst was or is, is 2 things. 1) I had a child, 11 years ago, it changes the way that you look at the urgency of what’s happening on the planet because you have someone that you love more than anything you’ve EVER loved to see that world vicariously. You start to realize well at first it’s only about you, and your survival and your friends.. Your friends are adults your family for the most part, are older than you and everyday’s in this boat where..things can be left unsaid. But you still talk about it though; you still talk about it all the time. But when you have a “creature” that is innocent, you know a pure creature that depends on you it definitely empowers you to feel that it’s ok, in conversation to discuss these things, and be a bit more passionate about those things. These are always views that I’ve had and they really haven’t changed that much over the years, I’ve always been an atheist, I’ve always had a real big issue with religion, that is far more negative than positive. I think morality can exist without it and never thought differently my whole life. And my parents were catholic when I was a kid and church was involved. It left at my family at a very early age in a divorce and when it did I felt like..I was blessed. you know what I mean?
Like it was a good thing. You know, So the other catalyst on this record is his, you know..hanging out with a really close friend at a pub and it’s like 1:30 in the morning, just hammered with your friend..and you’re talking about some of these issues, cuz it’s not like we.. you know, we discuss these things. These are the things you talk about with your friends. Things that are happening. Like what just happened in Paris would be something that I would talk about drunk with a friend at night, and we would be sort of commiserating about these things..Sooo I have a tendency, sometimes, to form rants, and um, sometimes, they’re probably pretty good when I’m really drunk and all the walls are broken down. And something I’ve heard over the years, when those things happen is, a friend of mine will go “you should write about that man, what you just said was like spot on right about that” and I’d always say, “Nah we don’t do that, that’s not our band. There/s plenty of bands doing that really well, we’re just going to stick to the human nature stuff here”, but it all IS human nature, so that whole record, you know with the exception of a few songs…You know I just started 2 years before the record, I just started to cultivate, and refine the rants and I had about 30 of them that I decided I’d go with, that’d I’d work it into some sort of concept about us, about us destroying our planet and each other and the things we do that we need to be accountable for and blah blah blah..really basic stuff. But..That was it. I just one day woke up and drank the Kool-Aid of my friends, the ones that have been telling me “you need to do this” and it was actually this really close friend of mine Chris..The words he said were, it’s time, dude. I’ve been listening to you for like 20 years. it’s time to write your bitter old man record…you’re ready” (both laugh)
You know what I mean though? (Both laugh more)
And I said,” you know what? You’re right, I’m gonna fucking do it, man” So that’s kinda what it is. and I tired, I wanted to just write something that I believe is sort of a little, a tribute to my daughter and her generation. And it’s just like, “I’d like these things to change”…realistically..yeah
Yeah, I mean…You can hope, that’s all we can do at this point.
Yeah.. A little bit of hope.
So we all kind of know the story about how you guys hooked up with Fat Mike and gave him your demo when Fat Wreck was nothing, how did you guys actually meet? How did that connection happen to the point where you even gave him your guys demo?
Well, he wouldn’t know this necessarily, cuz I met him twice before the night where I gave him the demo tape. The first time I met him, he played a place called the Red Barn. It was sorta like this punk venue that punk bands played where we we’re from in a town called Isla Vista, sorta like a college town.
Oh yeah I’m aware, I’m repping my La Vasa Shirt! (Shows shirt)
Oh nice! Yeah! So the Red Barn was a place where we used to set up and you could go to their little administrative area there and you could actually reserve the Red Barn, and we would have punk shows there. You know, half the time the cops would shut um down, but it was really fun. and NOFX played one of those shows and a mutual friend of our introduced us and I barely even remember it and I know Mike didn’t later., cuz we had obviously discussed it at some point..and the second time was at a Digit’s show in San Francisco when I moved out there and he was talking to one of the guys from Chemical People and I sorta came up and was kinda just doing that thing, where you just are like waiting, just like the guy standing there, just wanting to say..I don’t even remember what I wanted to talk about, I was just wanted to be like “Hey Mike” and I didn’t even interrupt, I just said something, like “hey, you know, I heard you started a label..” and I can’t even remember, but whatever it was it was just small, like I had a question for him and he looked at me and just said “You know listen man, I’m just trying to talk to a friend of mine here, and I don’t know you and” (Both laughing heartily) and he just AHHH put me in the gutter, just agh it was really bad. And I remember thinking.. I didn’t think he was a dick, I actually understood what he was saying. It was like, “I’m actually hanging out with a friend of mine right now” and I’ve done that many times in my life since, cuz sometimes, you are catching up with an old friend and you’re..maybe you’re on tour at one of your own shows or another show and some people have a few drinks and they forget manners. I don’t think that I was at all out of line, I was sort of polite. I’ve always been sort of been that way but..anyway..those were the two times I think I met Mike before then..I’d seen them play a whole bunch of times, you know in different places, but never spoken to him besides those 2 times. Both were really brief. So..it’s not a great story.
Eh, it is what it is..it is what happened so..
So that third time, did he know who you were?
Well.. No he didn’t know. But the third time he was talking to a couple of dudes from RKL and I grew up with those guys and knew them and one of the dudes he was talking to, I had been in a band with in like 1981 you know like my first punk band and who was the playing bass for RKL…and the other guy is Chris Rest who is obviously the guitar player in my band. Chris Rest and me were on a soccer team together when we were 8 years old. I mean we’ve known each other our whole lives. we’re both 49, so you know I saw him (Fat Mike) talking with these two dudes that were from MY world, that I knew Waaayy before him. You know what I mean? So I thought “perfect”, now there’s no “I’m talking to a friend, cuz I’ve known these guys way longer than he did, so it was more like “Hey bud, Hey bud” And I’ve said this many times about, meeting people who are “celebrities” for lack of a better word. Because you know in Punk rock it’s not something we like to consider.. I don’t like to think about that with anybody, but I do not like to meet anybody with any kind of fame at all. And when you’re in that kind of situation where you’re 5 feet from the guy in Iron Maiden, I’ve never been the guy who’s like “I’m gonna try to talk to um” If somehow or another, and this is my rule, a mutual friend says “hey, I want you to meet this person” then it’s good Then it’s like a natural thing. And I’ve met a million people that way, but I don’t think I’ve met anyone in my life where I came up to them and said “Hey, I’m a fan and, Etc.” because I just.. understand that that dynamic, it has no legs, and it’s really kind of, medial. I don’t wanna cramp someone’s style you know. Like, I don’t need their body as well as their music, I’m happy with just the art they’ve created. I don’t need more. I’ve developed some really great friendships over the years with bands that I listened to when I was a little kid and they’re people in my phone that are my friends and I have dinner with um now and it all happened naturally and that’s the only reason it exists. Because once we met each other in a way where there wasn’t any kind of dynamic..there wasn’t this sycophant shit that no one wants on their world..well some people do, but thats..
Yeah we’ll leave those guys to do their thing
When there’s no bias to start with, you become friends because of the people that you are and you get along. And that’s kinda what happen in that conversation with Mike. He was in a conversations with these old friends of mine and we just started chatting and it was cool and then I said, “Hey I heard you started this label and I’m not trying to be an opportunist, but I have a demo right outside in my car and I’d like to give it to you”..and since he had realized that I knew these guys, I had this tiny little bit of credibility and he said “Yeah, cool!” and it was great. He called me the next morning, the very next morning and said, “I love this, I wanna do a record with your band”..It was just so..It happened the right way. It wasn’t weird at all. And we were more or less about to break up at this point and I thought, sort of last effort here..slide this thing over to the guy, I like what his band’s done..so yeah, that was cool. It was a good day.
That’s Awesome..That’s so awesome. So changing subnets a bit..What is your favorite Non punk band right now?
Well a friend of mine..and he just played me it for the first time…(to the front of the tour bus) DAVID are you here?..is it Mrs. Magician?.. Yeah? Yeah. Well I can’t call them favorite yet at all, but what? (to David), No he asked what’s my favorite Non punk band now, (turns back to me) and I’m gonna name a few bands, because I know you know this too, musical people never have just one favorite, but it’s just Ironic that you asked this..well no it’s coincidental, not Ironic, that you just asked me after he just played it. David’s a super music fan, so when he tells me I’m gonna like something, he knows me well enough that he knows I’ll actually like it. Cuz he knows! and it was fantastic, I know it’s gonna be one of my favorite records and I can’t wait to hear the rest of it later. It was just killer. They’re great. You know, Neutral Milk Hotel, they’re still touring. They haven’t made music in a while, but JEFF MAGNUM (name check) I’m a big fan of his, but you know there’s tons. When I have a favorite, its a favorite for a few months at a time then it changes. But in those few months, that’s the record I’m listening to.
Yeah, and that’s the Album or CD you can leave in the car for weeks and listen to it every day and still be just fine with it
Yeah, you kind of burn it out, and even then it’s just kind of goes fondly into the classics. The like 3 or 4 years go by and you go “OO! I’m really in the mood for that record again” and then for a couple months it’s on your turn table, until the next one. I’m that way with music and because of my age..there are probably a 1,000 thing that I can in-and-out of phase with. So it’s not always new bands for me, you just go back through the passions… There’s reincarnation there you know? But yeah I also hear bands all the time that I think are really good.
I’m a big fan of seeing bands live though as well…
Yeah that’s my thing too. It sucks, but at the same time it doesn’t suck that music has kind of been pushed towards live music. It’s kinda where you have to do your thing since everyone’s torrenting their music for free and all
I agree, I think it’s one of the positive outcomes that’s happened with record sales. It’s a great thing, a full circle thing you know? It matters that a band is great live and you’re able to see it. It matters and it should matter. It’s just an awesome feeling when you see a band live that you’ve never heard before, because somebody goes, “Go see this band” and they happen to be playing in my town and you go “oh yeah, David told me to go see some band from San Diego or something”..and you get a friend and tell um “my buddy said these guys were really great and you’re just like blown away. It’s such a cool thing. And in someways, arguably a better way to discover a band. It’s in credibility. If the record has the songs, on top of the fact that I really wanna see this band many more times live, then I got a new favorite band.
(omitted part about FEST and The Decline band)
Wanna hear the full interview? WELL TOO BAD!!
You’ll have to wait until we have the ability to put audio up so piss off until then 🙂
Be Sure to check out Joey Cape’s new solo album Stich Puppy, and catch Lagwagon if you happen to be in Australia!! lagwagon/tour
Go follow Lagwagon and Joey Cape!!
Interview by Mitch McSteamy