Tag Archives: Acoustic

EP Review: Garrett Dale – Two T’s EP

Forget the filler in this review.  Garrett Dale is the lead singer of Red City Radio and just released three songs as a solo project.

You’d never know that Dale even fronted a punk rock band if you listened to any of these tracks.

Three songs of brutal honesty have been slammed into folkish alt-country music on Two T’s EP and I will tell ya, it’s fantastic.  This gem of an EP was released by the good folk at Red Scare.

“2016 Was…Horseshit” is like Tom Waits meets Slobberbone.  What more can I say about this track other than it is blunt as hell.  Check the video below and add the song to your next porch drinking mix already.

Then there was “House Full Of Dogs”, a track that clearly was fueled by a drunken recollection of personal exchanges.  The saxophone in the middle of the song made it that much more incredible.  This track is like the bastard child of a miserable Brendan Kelly and Bruce Springsteen fling.

“Down The Rabbit Hole” was the last track on this EP.  For someone like myself who is obsessed with Lucero and John Moreland, this song just fit in perfectly.  Not that I ever did not respect Dale, but this song alone has me looking at him and his talent forever differently.

Given this small taste of tunes, I really hope Dale has more of this up his sleeves because I seriously think people are going be just as floored as I was when they hear it.  This is music not to sit on.

Interview: Jose Prieto of MakeWar / Sad and French

There were so many good releases in 2016, but if I had to choose my top favorite, it would easily be MakeWar‘s Developing a Theory of Integrity.

Toby from Red Scare sent that album my way to check out and after listening to it at my paying gig about six times in a row, I learned that they were playing the Dag House’s final show the next night.  I pretty much freaked out like a kid with excitement and was sure to see them play a quick set in the basement of a true punk house.  I was so excited that I missed the last step into that basement and ate it into the wall.

After their set, I wanted to support the band and buy some merch off and ran into Jose asking him where their goods were.  He told me that all the merch was packed up and the band was about to leave for Omaha, but stopped dead in his tracks, walked out to his tour van, and got me a LP.  I felt stupid holding the band up, but was more impressed that Jose postponed leaving.

Jose and the rest of the guys chatted it up with me for a few and I cracked up when they told me they did not realize Omaha was so far from Cleveland and that they probably should not have booked a show that far.

I decided I wanted to do a little interview with Jose and just learn more about him and the band.  He was totally down for it and the little interview I intended to do turned into quite a big one.  I refuse to cut a lot of it out as I loved chatting with him so much.  It’s seriously a great read.

Check out the interview I did with Jose Prieto
of MakeWar:


What’s up Jose?  Thanks for taking a few moments to talk.  I know MakeWar used to be Sad and French, but I don’t know the whole story. 

Can you just start from the beginning and tell me how Sad and French eventually turned into MakeWar?

Well, Sad and French used to be the name I went by when playing the open mic at this great dive in Miami called Churchill’s. Churchill’s had an open mic every Wednesday and and a great welcoming group of people. It transformed me from doing silly covers to drunkenly showing them some super personal sad songs I was writing at the time about that one that got away.

After I moved to New York, I had a good handful of songs under that name and finally started playing “real” solo shows and made a couple of super low budget home recording EPs. Then my best friend from college, Edwin Santacruz, who I first met back in Florida on our first semester of school, moved to New York, crashed on my couch, and that’s how the real Sad and French began.

It was just Edwin and I, upright bass and an acoustic guitar. We knew we wanted a drummer, but we tried a couple and they just didn’t click with us. So we went ahead and recorded our first LP as a duo. Simple, raw, acoustic. The songs were written that way so why not memorize them in time and space that way. Black Numbers from [New] Jersey helped us put that LP and boom, we were a real band!

The thing is, right after that LP was recorded, I went out on Valentine’s Day trying to find someone or forget about someone and not be alone that night, and thats the night I met Greg Taylor. He was flirting with the girl I was talking to right before I had to go to the bathroom. And it was friendship at first sight!. Greg, who turned out to be another fellow Floridian, also loved Against Me! – which it was the sound Edwin and I were trying to go for with SNF – and also played the drums. After I showed Greg the acoustic LP, he loved it and we tried really hard to keep it that way, You know minimal drums, acoustic instruments, old school Against Me! style, but something was changing. I kept on turning the the acoustic guitar louder to a point of overdriven feedback madness and kept on playing every song faster and faster and it just sounded better. It was way more fun to play. So we switch to electric guitar and bass, and collectively decided that this band was not a solo act named Sad and French anymore. This was a completely different beast. So we changed our name to MakeWar and the rest is history… Well till now at least… haha

Damn dude, I think you answered pretty much everything I needed to know about the history of MakeWar.  Thanks!  Sounds like you followed suit with Laura Jane Grace in that you started solo and how have a band that pretty much is a powerhouse.  How stoked are you about what MakeWar has turned into?

Its truly a dream come true man. I finally have the band I always wanted to have. Who is down to tour?

So why did you initially name yourself Sad and French?  Hell, how did you guys come up with the name MakeWar?

hahaha. Sad and French comes from a drunken conversation with a good friend of mine. She used to say that I always look sad. Then she said I look like that French singer Herman Dune. We joked about me being sad and French.

MakeWar comes from a million other names we had when we decided to change our name. I knew it sounded intense. But I also knew it was a great way to describe the “wars” that were going inside my head.

So where do you all originally hail from?  I know y’all live in NYC currently and lived in Miami as just previously stated.

So Greg is straight up from Florida, born and raised. Edwin is from Colombia, born and raised, but moved to the states when he was 17. I  was born in Miami, but raised in Venezuela. I lived there with my parents and siblings until I graduated from high school. That’s when I decided I wanted to move to the states. The land of opportunities, shit was easy here right? I was hoping for college to be like an American Pie movie. I was gonna get my Venezuelan band called The Go Go Punkers sign to Epitaph or Fat or something, get the rest of the band to move to Florida, and we were gonna live that punk lifestyle we always dreamed of or saw on VHS tapes like Ten Years of Fucking Up or any of the Kung Fu Records silly movies, or SLC Punk.

But shit wasn’t easy man. I didn’t speak any English, the internet wasn’t really there yet, and the record labels weren’t writing offers back…probably cuz who the fuck names their band The Go Go Punkers? Probably the same guy that came up with Sad and French am I right? haha

Dude, even I thought college was going to be like American Pie. Growing up outside of the states, how were you introduced to punk rock music?

I hated school man. I was an outcast that never, ever had good grades and always failed all his classes. But I had a great handful group of friends I grew up with and all we wanted to do was skateboard and go surfing.

I was probably introduced to punk rock that way. Skateboarding and surfing VHSs. But I remember the day a friend from high school showed me Blink 182 Dude Ranch. That shit blew my mind. But then an older friend introduced me to what he called real punk. Lagwagon, NOFX, Pennywise, Bad Religion, I was hooked man.

We all probably owned 2 or 3 CDs back then, so we used to get together at someone’s house, bring all the CDs, and make mix tapes with them. There was no internet back then, or maybe there was, Napster was a thing, but downloading 1 song took hours. We were the weird kids who didn’t listen to reggaeton, and only went to parties to drink free beers and hit on girls, but hated the popular music down there. Techno and reggaeton was the music everyone used to listen to in Venezuela in the late 90s.

I need to look up Reggaeton, something tells me I am not going to dig it…  Kids these days have no idea how good they got it.  I remember the days of Napster and remember when CDs were released.  I make mixes off of cassettes, I feel old now.

Reggaeton is the worst. I remember having a Walkman that only had a play button. I had to use a pen with tape to rewind the cassettes.

Kids will never know that struggle.  Outside of the band, what do you do for a living?

Edwin and I do freelance graphic design. He focuses more on the animation industry and I work mostly on the advertising industry. Greg is a bartender, he makes people happy and drunk, and they give him money. What a great job. I sit in front of a computer all day coming up with ideas that your ad blocker is probably going to erase, or your Hulu account is going to skip, or our XM Radio host is going to talk over. But hey, I can’t complain, [it] pays the bills.

What other projects have you been involved in, or has it only been Sad and French and MakeWar?

So when I was a teen, The Go Go Punkers. It sounded like Lagwagon meets NOFX meets Millencolin. I used to write the lyrics in Spanish down into my Windows 95 shitty computer and translate them into English using probably the first translator ever use on a machine called Power Translator. We didn’t want to sing in Spanish cuz our big plan was to move to the states and get signed. We were so naive.

Then in college, I had a cool post hardcore project called Forthwith. We wanted to sound just like Thrice and I think we did. The thing was, our priorities were kind of shifted then.

After that, Edwin and I joined a new local Miami hardcore band called Zamora Bleeds. This was back in the day when screaming and singing pretty were super cool. We only played two shows. Somehow I got kicked out of the band, and after hearing this, Edwin quit. Edwin forever MVP.

Greg’s repertoire is more impressive. He was part of many Florida bands. To name a few, From First to Last, The Holy Mountain, Party Time. Then in New York he joined Mischief Brew, for a couple of tours and albums before getting hit by a cop car on his bike, He used to be a bike messenger.

Man, I kind of want to hear some Go Go Punkers now.  Sounds rad and I absolutely love your plan as a teen.  I gotta ask, do you pick on Greg ever for being in a band with Skrillex?

He was in FFTL pre-Skrillex era. Funny thing is that the newest FFTL single in years just came out a couple of months ago and what does Skrillex decides to call it? MAKE WAR. I think Skrillex is fucking with Greg now. Maybe not. But surely was weird. All I know is whatever ownership we had of that MakeWar hashtag we lost it after that song dropped down. #makewar is now about emo kids that love Skrillex and Jesus now.

Skrillex even ripped off the cover of that album from another band.  Now, how did you get hooked up with Toby at Red Scare?  Did you have to bribe him like I do just to get him to notice me?

Hahaha. I actually knew little about Toby then, I heard he was a mysterious man. Red Scare had and has some of my favorite bands, but we weren’t really ready or even looking for a new label the day I  met Brendan Kelly. He had an acoustic show cancelled at The Knitting Factory because of a massive snowstorm that hit New York [in] January of 2016, I had  2 shows cancelled too. Our mutual friend Seth just opened up a bar that terrible icy weekend here in Bushwick and asked Brendan to come play the opening party. Then he asked me last minute if I wanted to open acoustically for Brendan Kelly at his newly opened bar. He promised free drinks all night long.

I liked Brendan, I liked the Lawrence Arms, I even liked that acoustic cover he did of “Kiss the Bottle”, I just never met him before. After I played my set he came up to me and said something like “dude, holy shit, I have to go after you now? fuck! That was awesome!”

After he was done with his set, we got real drunk and he said he wanted to sign my band. I really thought it was just drunk talk because he’s never seen us play., but I guess he really liked me and believed in me. So he texts Toby on the spot and somehow convinced him we were real good.  I’m so happy our shows got cancelled and we got to play acoustic together. I’m so happy him and Toby were into the new record, and happy we didn’t suck when Toby saw us for the first time opening for The Falcon 2 months later. The rest is history.

It was destiny for you guys apparently.  I think it worked out just fine.  Your band is a melodic punk rock favorite of mine. MakeWar’s debut really seemed to have lots and lots of feelings in it whereas the latest MakeWar release, Developing a Theory of Integrity, was about growing up and just taking life as it comes.  Was there a certain moment in life that just had you realize life is what you make of it and have fun?

Well I think that “moment” you are talking about was the moment when I had my first panic attack, thinking it was a heart attack, that sent me straight to the ER and a bunch of million dollars later, I learned that I couldn’t keep hiding those feelings with just booze and random hookups. I needed to do something about it. Thats when I wrote Developing a Theory of Integrity. I needed to say goodbye to the old Sad and French memory. I needed to say goodbye to my late grandfather. I needed to focus and cure this new mental illness I was randomly introduced by because I didn’t want to depend on a depressing looking little pill every fucking day. I think Developing a Theory of Integrity is definitely about friendship and growing, not necessarily up but forward, How true friends, family, and babes help you see the party at the end of the tunnel.

Well dude, it sounds like you are on the right track.  Thanks for sharing that.  Who are some of your inspirations that have more or less built up your style?

Mmmmm, I guess the same as when I was young, Lagwagon is still to this date my favorite band. Anything on the first 3 or 4 Punkoramas or Fat Music for Fat People comps. Or that 90s sound Superdrag, Nada Surf, Built to spill, Appleseed Cast.

That Fat Music For Fat People Volume 2 changed my life.  I still listen to it today.  What is it about Lagwagon that you dig so much?

You have to understand I didn’t speak any english back then. Punk rock to me was about the feeling I felt when I listened to it. It was about those guitar octaves and solos, the fast drum beats, the vocal melodies. Joey Cape, to me, was so inventive and creative in the way he came up with his vocal melodies in Lagwagon. I didn’t know what he was saying, but I felt that he meant what he was saying and that had some sort of meaning to me. I remember kissing a girl for the first time with “Want” from Let’s Talk About Leftovers was playing in her room. I remember listening to Let’s Talk About Feeling for the first time while watching the waves get better and better from our beach house.

I remember the first time I saw them live at the Warped Tour in Florida back in 2003. I ran really fast from stage to stage because I really didn’t want to miss them. But on the way to their stage somehow lost my wallet, and I had to make a big decision then. Do I miss Lagwagon and go look for my wallet with all the money I had, my student ID, my dad’s credit card for emergencies only or do I stay here first row and watch my favorite band? I decided to stay and watch them. Tears of joy and anger were falling down my stupid teenage face and I was so fucking happy. Never found the wallet but someone mailed all my documents to my dorm a couple of weeks later. No money though.

That is the ultimate Warped story.  Seriously, I could imagine that happening to myself.  I did not event think of the language barrier for you growing up.  So upon hearing the music, you probably liked what you heard without understanding what they were singing about, right?

Yeah man, I dont know how to explain it. Like I felt the music and vocal melodies before knowing what they were about.

You should really look into working with Cape in the future with his One Week project.  With your Sad and French past, I could totally see you doing something that route, plus the dude is your fracking hero.  That would be bad ass.

I know man. Joey and I actually played some shows together back in the Sad and French days. He doesn’t really know how much I admire him because I just don’t wanna be that weird fan boy. I rather be his friend. All I hope is that One week project happens and happens naturally. Then maybe I can tell him about all my Lagwagon tattoos. hahaha.

Well maybe he will read this.  I have featured him on a site a few times now.  Aside from Cape, who are some of your favorite artists out there today?

I’ve been listening to that new Menzingers record non stop. Before that it was Pup The Dream is Over. I really like that new Meat Wave record too! The new Nothington is perfect. I got big hopes on that new Flats record. Red City Radio is a great looking band with great catchy songs. Oh let’s not forget about Arms Aloft and Good Friend from Red Scare. We triple signed with the label at the same time. Their records are incredible. I really hope to do something with those boys soon.

Both Arms Aloft and Good Friend rule!  So does pretty much everyone else you just mentioned. You are hitting the road with my pals Worship This! for a quick tour.  How did you hook up with these guys?

Our friend Rob ‘Good Time” Peters introduced me to them by asking me to book them a show here in New York. I booked the back room of Legion in Brooklyn and had a great time. We hung out and drank a ton of whiskey. We bonded. Also I liked Aaron’s beard.

Only because I know of his excellence, I need to ask, how did you meet Rob?  Also, Aaron’s beard is a glorious.

Rob saw me at one of my highest moments in life. I was on tour with Sad and French (pre Greg) in Fort Collins, Colorado.  We played the famous Surfside 7. After the show, Jon Snodgrass, who is one of my favorite humans of all time, asked me if I wanted to stick around an extra day and maybe sing a song with the Descendents at the annual Descendents Live Karaoke they do there. I was speechless.

If I ever have kids or dogs one day, I’ll be so proud of telling them I got to sing “Cheer” with the Descendents at Surfside 7 one day, and in Rob’s words, I killed it! He posted the video of me doing that and sent me the link. So fucking glad someone taped that! Somehow in the next year or so he moved to New York and hit me up and we’ve been friends since. We both have a really good appreciation of hot wings. We like go out of our way to find the best wings. Im so happy he is coming with us on this tour. Rob knows how to have a good time.

So I’ve heard. So, what has the response been like to anyone who as not seen/heard of you while on tour?

New fans really like the energy we have. And they are all in love with Edwin, he is the best looking member. That’s until they smell Greg. Then they are in love with Greg. Greg has this weird after-drumming-never-shower pheromones that I don’t really understand.

Personal question: Are you still cool with me since i shorted you a dollar at the Dag House last Fall?  I promise I will pay it back one day.  I seriously felt like a jackass for that one.

You did? I don’t remember… that is the problem about the dag house. it’s a black hole. You should buy me a dollar scratcher instead. if I win, we’ll split it.

Deal.  If you win it’ll be like that Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda movie from the 90s.

You know Greg hates Nic Cage… Who hates Nic Cage?!? He is such a great actor. That was It Could Happen To You. Great movie. Raising Arizona, Amazing movie. Face Off... speechless… Adaptation is perfect.

What about Con-Air or The Rock?  Both are guilty pleasures of mine.  That is though, hilarious Greg hates Nic.

I havent seen those two in yeeeeearrrrrs… I’ll have to re-watch those!

What is next for MakeWar?  I hope there is new material out there.

We are writing non stop. There’s definitely new music coming. Maybe next year. We are playing Pouzza Fest in Montreal. That should be tons of fun! We are planning a super cool tour in June that I don’t think I can talk about? Maybe ask me this question again in May, yeah?

Sounds like a plan dude, thanks for chatting it up!  Good luck on your upcoming tour.


MakeWar is heading out on tour with Worship This! next week.  If they are playing your town, make sure you check them out.

BHP Best of 2015

2015 is wrapping up quickly so I felt it was best I get this out of the way before I become too involved with the holiday festivities.

As much as I wish I was more active on this blog, I will admit I am still listening to as much music as possible whenever time admits.  I am not giving up just yet folks.

With that said, here are my choice releases for 2015:


BHP Best of 2015

Beach Slang
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
-This album was one of my favorite releases of 2015 before it was even released.  I knew I was going to adore it before I heard it and I did.  This is one of those bands that has really reached back into the 90s with their style and I love everything about it.

Yotam
Yotam Ben-Horin – Distant Lover
-Yotam blew me away with his latest solo album.  This dude rules and is one of my favorite songwriters out there.

Lucero
Lucero – All A Man Should Do
-I love Lucero.  With that said, when I first listened to this album, I was not digging it much.  In fact, it was not until my third listen that I realized how solid the album is.  I can not stop listening to it.  Yeah, it is not like their older material but it still owns.

Baroness
Baroness – Purple
-This album was literally just released (12/18/2015 for those of you who are wondering).  Luckily there is that edit option on there here ol’ blog because this needs to be on my list.  This album is perfect, absolutely perfect.  After all this band has been through, it is nice to see them return with such force.

John Moreland
John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat
-John Moreland is incredible.  Words can not express my appreciation for this album.  Seriously, I can not write anything about this, you will need to listen to it for yourself.

Frank Turner
Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People
-I do not think it is possible for Frank Turner to release an album that I do not like.  This guy is a modern-day musical hero to me.

NRNS
Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Self-Titled
-This album was a blast to listen to.

TBR
Teenage Bottlerocket – Tales From Wyoming
-Spite losing Brandon recently, Teenage Bottlerocket gained a lot of attention with their power pop punk release.  This catchy as hell album guarantees for a good time.

Annabel
Annabel – Having It All
-This album seriously made me want to be a better person.  I find myself listening to this album on the days where I feel like I need a boost in the feelings department.

Sidekicks
The Sidekicks – Runners In The Nerved World
-I swear this band matures more and more with every release.

Joey Cape
Joey Cape – Stitch Puppy
-This album was so beautiful yet gloomy.  Cape has proved himself to me once again that he is one of the best songwriters on the face of this planet.

Purple
Purple – (409)
-Purple are fun and encompass rock n roll to the max.  I do not even know what that means.  This band is all about the fun and released an amazing album full of catchy tracks.

toyGuitar
toyGuitar – In This Mess
-If this album happened to fall under your radar, you are totally missing out.  Happy-go-lucky-punk-rock-beach-jams should sum up this album.

Success
Success – Radio Recovery
-Success dropped one of the most catchy punk albums of the year.  I love these dudes and think everyone needs to check them out.  I also love the fact that their album cover pays tribute in a sense to Fifteen.

Refused
Refused – Freedom
-The last time these guys released something, it was the late 90s.  I never thought they would put something out again, but they mostly regrouped after some touring and dropped this killer album.  A lot of people said it was over-produced and forced, but I still like it.

Sam Russo
Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams
-This was an excellent album that I am glad I was able to check out.  Sam Russo takes storytelling and songwriting to the best level.

Dr Dre
Dr. Dre – Compton
-This was the album I listened to the most this year easily.  For over two months, I listened to this album in full every single day.  I had a slight obsession with it.  The best part about about this is the first time I heard it, I thought to myself that it was not even that good.  By the time the album ended, I was hooked.  I even listened to it this morning.

Patrick Sweany
Patrick Sweany – Daytime Turned To Nighttime
-This album just makes me want to drink whisky on a porch at night with my close pals.  Nice to see Pat continue on with his passion.  I sure do miss the days whenI could hit up the Zephyr and see him play.

Johnathan Richman
Johnathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith” (7″ Releases)
-I had the privilege to review both of these singles thanks to Blue Arrow Records and all I have to say is that I can not wait for Richman to release his next full-length…


Well folks, that is all I have at this time.  I am sure I am missing something and will probably edit this post 7 more times.  For any of you paying attention, this blog has been updated just a few times…

Until then, happy holidays to you and yours.  I appreciate anyone who has ever taken a moment to check out what I have to share on this site.  If it was not for you, I would probably have thrown the towel in a long time ago.

Album Review: Sam Russo – Greyhound Dreams

Sam Russo - Greyhound DreamsThere’s something to be said about storytelling and incorporating it into music.  Sam Russo does that without skipping a thought or a beat.

(Speaking of beat, I should be clear and note that I am talking about the musician Sam Russo, not the button pushing DJ.  I just wanted to make myself clear there.  Thanks.)

Hailing from Haverhill, England, Russo has been playing his own style of a punk-ish Americana folk-rock for years now.  Having released his debut over 3 years ago, Greyhound Dreams (Red Scare Industries) is an impressive follow up.

Russo is not just another punker with a guitar and some pent up anger.  When I listen to him, I think of a hybrid mix of Tim Barry, Dave Hause, and Frank Turner.  The beauty of Russo is that his music does not sound like a rip off of any of the previously mentioned and  is genuine and at times flooding with anguished, heartfelt memories.

Opening track “Sometimes”, a blatant blast at a harsh personal outcry, was simple yet whole, especially when others jumped in to sing along in the chorus.  The song was depressing as hell when you realize why Russo admits being unruly.

Sam Russo“Dream All You Want” contained so many visuals in the lyrics that I had to listen to it over a couple of times to my mind could settle down.  Russo singing “you either chase your dreams, or you chase your dreams away” made it clear to me, this was not a happy song.  This song wasn’t just about dreams, it also was the unspoken reality of those dreams never coming true.

“Crayfish Tales” was one of the better tracks on this album in my opinion.  I swear to god, this guy and I have lived in the same shoes at one point in our past.  I almost predicted that he was going to sing a couple of times.  “Runaways” was also a great tune and a little more upbeat and personable.

I loved that “Forever West” spoke on Russo’s journey that he experienced in the states.  While listening to it, I could not help but think of my own past experiences from the time I stayed in a ghetto Motel 6 in the hood of Baltimore to when, years later, my fiancé and I drove 2800 miles to New Mexico almost non-stop.  It really hit home, especially when he sung about the sun coming over the mountains as I experienced that and it was amazing.  It was like a musical observation, but different.

Russo sang his heart out on “Nobody’s Fool”.  I feel that this was a more important track for him as reminisced on his past pain caused from heartbreak.  “I would give you everything and just disappear” was sung towards the end making for a true statement of love.

“Western Union” closed the album down strong.  Things picked up in the middle with some extra help on vocals, but mostly Russo held this song down solo.  Not the happiest of stories, but incredibly impactful on those lonely memories.

Russo touched on something often on Greyhound Dreams that I think we all need to consider:  Life is short and full of difficulties.  We’ve all been through a personal hell at some point, but Russo really leads by example in his songs (and even song titles) by singing about moving on and never stopping.  No one ever said being a human being was an easy thing.

I will be honest and say I never gave Russo the chance I should have.  I missed out, that is a fact.  Hell, the dude even supported The Falcon overseas and I still was lame and did not buy everything he ever recorded.  (Disclosure:  I would have been privy to Russo years ago had I made it to that Tim Barry show at the Grog Shop…)

If you are a fan of early Frank Turner music, you will adore this album.  I am not sitting here trying to compare the two, I just know what I like, and Greyhound Dreams is pretty outstanding.  Russo has won himself a new fan and probably a whole lot more once they give him a well-deserved chance.

With the year coming to an end, I just found myself another album that needs to be penned onto my best of 2015 post.  Nicely done Russo.  I look forward to hearing more from you.

Interview: Joey Cape (Lagwagon, One Week Records)

Joey CapeFest. Fest. Fest.

I was not there, so I interviewed Joey Cape.  I guess that is the next best thing, right?

Cape and his band Lagwagon just stopped at Fest in the middle of their tour to play a Halloween show.  Based on the photos and videos I saw on the good ol’ internets, they donned King Diamond’s look and played a killer set.

Now, many of you know that Cape is a busy guy.  Not only is he touring with Lagwagon right now, but he released  Stitch Puppy, an all new solo album on Fat Wreck Chords that has really exceeded my expectations.  Seriously, you should probably check it out before you read my interview so you know I am not just kissing booty throughout.  I sincerely enjoyed it.

For a guy that is pushing 50, he does not seem to be slowing down one bit.  Not only is he focused on his music, but he is also still continuing with One Week Records.  On top of that, he is a family man.  A true hero if you ask me.

I managed to get Cape’s attention the other day and was able to chat about Stitch Puppy, Lagwagon, and even other avenues.  At the end, I was even able to get some fanboy questions answered.  Let me just say that the final question was answered amazingly.

Check it out, and enjoy:


BHP: Man, Stitch Puppy was beautiful. Was the concept of this album leaning towards a darker path? I am not saying all tunes were gloomy, but it certainly had a somber feel to it.

Joey Cape:  Well, I just decided to make it somewhat conceptual in a very broad sense. It was all written within the idea of the doll Stitch Puppy itself. It’s a victorian morning doll my daughter and wife made me. I had had a tough couple years with the death of a few friends, a falling out with an old friend, and a friend going to prison for a capitol crime. The lyrics simply represent the last couple of years of trauma in my life and the lives of others. In that way, the lyrics are no different than what I always write about. I guess I have always been most inspired by the dark side of life. It rings more true to me.

I loved the piano playing in “This Like IS Strange”. It seriously intensified the song for me, especially towards the end. Tell me, who is the monkey in this song?

I’m glad you like it. The piano is my friend Brian Wahlstrom. We have been working together for the last 5 years. We have co-written music together, his and mine and done extensive touring. I just love the way piano fills up the sound and adds tone. Brian and I have a great musical report. I am not going to share the “Monkey” name. Haha. I make an effort now to be discrete. I have gotten into a lot of trouble in the past for being too transparent.

You took a great song from a totally underrated album of yours, re-recorded it with Chris Creswell, and more or less blew my mind. Why did you select “Spill My Guts” off of that The Playing Favorites album?

I have done very little touring with that band and always wanted to play the 5 songs I wrote for that record. It just seems like the best way to re-introduce them by recording them acoustic. I don’t think any of them would work for Lagwagon.

“Moral Compass” was more folky sounding than the other tracks. Who helped you out with this song?

It was a song I originally recorded with Lagwagon for the “Hang” album. It didn’t really fit that record so I decided to do the Stitch Puppy version. The solo was written by Chris Rest of Lagwagon. I asked him if it was cool to use it. Otherwise, it was mine but, I think the reason it sounds a bit different is because I wrote it as a letter to a child and that effected the overall tone of the song. It’s supposed to be a soft delivery I suppose

“Tracks” was so emotional. Seriously, I just got chills listening to you sing “he would lay down on tracks for you”. Who was this song about?

“Tracks” was originally entitled “I Would Have Laid Down On Tracks For You”. A better title but too long for the layout. Haha. I wrote it in third person because it felt more like a story with empathy and less defensive that way. I wrote it as a letter to an old friend. Someone I knew for 30 years and recently had a falling out with. As far as I am concerned I was a scapegoat. Sometimes couples choose that “Me against the world” role in their relationships. They just have to cut friends almost randomly to keep it together. It’s a shitty move and difficult to forgive.

Back_Cover_Photo_450Tell me more about your daughter and the doll that inspired this release.

Yeah, it was all her doll and catharsis. That doll is my most prized possession and it speaks to me. There is something about a child’s ability to give a pure uninhabited view through their art. That sort of thing gets forced out in my cases by this overwhelming world. It’s beautiful and sad but vital to site and source.

I take it the cover art for this album is a representation of said doll? It’s like Powder meets the Nirvana smiley face, but different.

I thought it would be a good idea to embody the doll. It was fun to play the personality I imagined Stitch Puppy would have. I made a video for “This Life IS Strange”. I walked all over San Francisco in that get up. People starred. It was unnerving.

Can I ask, did you treat Stitch Puppy like a One Week Records recording and left it completely raw, or was there some mastering involved?

It was raw at its base. Brian Wahlstrom and I recorded the basics live at my studio just as I do the One Week Records I produce. It was aesthetically inspired by those records. I did bring some additional instrumentalist in for overdubs and had some guest singers lay down background vocals. I like the idea of not being precious with the production and going for the stripped down vibe. I like the idea of a more pure performance.

Were you able to get a lot of friends to help you write this album, or was most of it done by yourself?

I wrote the songs very quickly, then took them to my writing partner Brian Wahlstrom. Brian calls me out when I’m doing the same old same old. He’s the best sounding board I have worked with. We added a few parts, bridges, etc. and we tightened the arrangements up.

How tough is it to balance all you have going on in life? You have your solo material, Lagwagon, and One Week, plus a family on top of that. How do you do it?

As far as music goes, I just keep working and whatever is in front of me is what gets my full attention. It looks more difficult than it is. I don’t like down time. My family is of course, the most important thing to me and I would spend more time at home if possible. Unfortunately, we all need to work. At least I have a great job that I love even if it takes me away from them.

This was your first solo release in 5 years. Can we expect another one in the future?

I hope so. I just write songs and make records accordingly. It’s hard to calculate the best home for the songs. Lagwagon always gets the first right of refusal.

How’s touring going? Do you prefer the solo route or do you enjoy being with Lagwagon?

I like them both. They compliment each other. They alleviate the tension that either can bring. Sometimes a song gets lost in the band dynamic and that is where my true love lies. Doing the acoustic thing keeps that aspect alive. But I need the energy of the band too. They are both like addictions.

What does it feel like to be on an independent label that just passed the 25 year mark?

It feels great. I can’t say enough about the subject. We are so lucky to have foregone the drama and ups and downs of label change. Fat is an absolutely awesome label and they have always respected us and our wishes. We haven’t never had our integrity challenged by them. They support us unconditionally. We are the fortunate ones.

What’s one thing you can tell me that Tony Sly taught you about yourself musically?

Tony reminded me that it’s okay to do anything you want to do in songwriting. I think I reminded him of that fact too. We both recognized each other’s go to chords and melodies and I believe we both reminded each other that it’s okay to have them. They become your personality as a songwriter, your style. They can be a gift if allowed and appreciated.

Did you ever think you would be where you are today? Look at all you have accomplished as an artist. I seriously doubt you have even reached your peak.

Thank you. No, I am always surprised by every step. It’s just one of those things you are gracious for or not. I am very aware of my fortune, to be doing what I love and the ability to nurture it. I know how lucky it is to be able to spend nearly all my time doing this. I used to paint houses for a living. That is a great job and I loved that too but, this is better.

Not everyone can get into your solo stuff. I think sometimes as we grow older, our tastes change and we appreciate a good sounding acoustic track. I guess what I am asking is, which do you prefer more, Lagwagon or your solo material?

I have always loved both but I am a song guy. That’s what it’s about for me. I don’t really care much about the format. I listen for the hook, the lyric and want to identify. That is the universal language we all can speak.

What is this Cape karaoke that I keep hearing about?

I have no idea. Maybe it stems from the few shows over the years where I got sick and lost my voice. When that happens, we opt for Karaoke rather then cancelling the show. It sucks but it’s fun.

What’s next for Joey Cape?

Good question!

BHP FANBOY QUESTIONS:

I was hoping to talk about Bad Astronaut for a quick moment if you are cool with that. How did you get John Popper of Blues Traveler to play harmonica on “Our Greatest Year”?

My wife and him grew up together. I met him through her. I asked. He said yes. That simple. I doubt that will ever happen again.

So what is the fate of Bad Astronaut? Grated you stated there was no Bad Astronaut after Derrick passed on, but reforming in 2010 to play the band’s first live show as well as hints of a b-side album have gotten some of us fans curious.

Well, we still have a bunch of unreleased material but I have used many of the song ideas for other projects over the years. We have done a few tours but have had some drama with drummers and other members life schedules. We are all still very close and I imagine we will eventually record together again. They are amazing musicians and some of my closest friends.

Have you, Wahlstrom, and Snodgrass ever talked about maybe continuing with Scorpios or starting another project collectively?

Funny you ask. We are talking now. Jon and I are going to start working on some stuff in February and there is a new Scorpio in town. His initials might be C.C.. I’ll leave it at that.


Stitch Puppy is available on CD or LP at Fat Wreck Chords.

Cape and Lagwagon are currently on tour.  If you have never seen Lagwagon live before, do yourself a favor and check them out.

Date Location Club Details
10/30/15 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Revolution w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
10/31/15 Gainesville, FL The Fest 14!!!
11/2/15 Pensacola, FL Vinyl Music Hall w/ Riverboat Gamblers, PEARS, Runaway Kids, Broken Gold
11/3/15 New Orleans, LA Parish at House of Blues w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
11/4/15 Houston, TX Warehouse Live Studio w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
11/5/15 Corpus Christi, TX House of Rock w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
11/6/15 San Antonio, TX Paper Tiger w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
11/7/15 Dallas , TX Club Dada w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
11/8/15 Austin, TX FFF Fest Fun Fun Fun Fest
11/10/15 Scottsdale, AZ Pub Rock w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
11/11/15 Las Vegas, NV Fremont Country Club w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids, The Breifs
11/12/15 Santa Barbara, CA Velvet Jones w/ PEARS, The Runaway Kids
11/13/15 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour w/ Bobgoblin
11/14/15 San Diego, CA The Observatory w/ Runaway Kids
11/15/15 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour w/ PEARS, Runaway Kids
11/23/15 Tokyo, Japan Makuhari Messe Fat Wrecked for 25 Years in Japan w/ NOFX, Strung Out, Good Riddance, Snuff, Swingin’ Utters, Western Addiction, Masked Intruder, toyGuitar and more!
11/26/15 Byron Bay, Australia The Northern w/ The Flatliners
11/27/15 Brisbane, Australia The Triffid w/ The Flatliners
11/28/15 Sydney, Australia Metro Theatre w/ The Flatliners
11/29/15 Central Coast, Australia The Entrance Leagues Club w/ The Flatliners
12/2/15 Geelong, Australia Barwon Club w/ The Flatliners
12/4/15 Melbourne, Australia Max Watt’s w/ The Flatliners
12/5/15 Adelaide, Australia Unibar w/ The Flatliners
12/6/15 Perth, Australia Amplifier w/ The Flatliners
2/26/16 Curitiba , Brazil Music Hall
2/27/16 Sao Paulo , Brazil Clash Club
2/28/16 Rio De Janeiro , Brazil Teatro Odisseia
3/2/16 Buenos Aires , Argentina Groove
3/4/16 Santiago , Chile Teatro Cariola
3/5/16 Lima, Peru Festiva
3/6/16 Bogota , Colombia Festival Skate Punk