Category Archives: Interview

Interview: James Alex of Beach Slang

Beach Slang Unless you were living under a rock last year, chances are you have heard about a band called Beach Slang.

If you recall, they topped my best of 2015 list.  This is all with good reason too of course.

In the event you are sitting there scratching your head at who I am talking about, perhaps I can persuade you into checking them out.  Think about the Replacements, a juvenile Goo Goo Dolls, and Jawbreaker.  Beach Slang is a perfect variation of those bands and still manages to hold their own sound.

James Alex fronts the punk outfit I am babbling about.  You might remember him from the 90s pop punk act Weston.  No?  It’s ok, I am not judging you.

I personally have been a fan of Beach Slang since they released Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street on their BandCamp page in 2014.  I also remember rocking out to Weston years back (Got Beat Up on Go-Kart Records ruled!!!).  It only made sense for me to try and interview James.  Of course he was cool about it.

The Peter Pan of punk rock was happy to answer a few pondering questions from this fan – who am I kidding, it is a short novel…  Check it out:

Beach Slang Logo

BHP: First off, what does it feel like to be in a band that had their debut full-length anticipated by so many fans all over the world? Your first two EPs personally won me over and I can not tell you how long I waited for you guys to drop The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us.

James Alex:  It’s been overwhelmingly humbling and incredible and perfect and heart-swelling. I swear, there are times I randomly sit in some weirdo smile-haze trying to figure out how Beach Slang got so lucky, you know?

How did Beach Slang emerge after Weston called it quits? I am sure it was not an A to B process. With the timespan, one might think about just not even trying again but you all did. What inspired you to try?

I never stopped writing words and songs and stuff. I just sort of stayed hidden away doing it. When Weston was asked to play Riot Fest in 2009, our drummer couldn’t make it so I reached out to JP to fill in. While we were hanging out for that, I let him hear some things I had been writing and he told me they needed to be heard. I thought maybe they should, too.

I mean seriously, this shit happened so fast. How did y’all cope with all of the immediate attention? I actually heard that in NYC, the fans were already singing along to your songs the first time you played there.

There could be worse things than people digging the thing you’re doing, right? So, yeah, coping was pretty easy.

Your lyrics are so personable and seem to include anyone who wants to listen and relate. Were many of the lyrics written based off of past experiences growing up?

They all are, man. Every one. I just did this podcast and I summed it up like this: To me, Beach Slang songs are little two-minute novels. They’re about me and my friends and the things we’ve done, and they’re important to me.

tumblr_nluanchxHr1tmjjmqo1_1280I need to ask about the artwork on all of your releases and online. It is so classic in a sense with carefully selected photos with some that are then spliced or manipulated. Where did this idea come from?

I’ve been asked about my approach to the visual stuff I make and I chopped it down to this very accurate summary: Mary Ellen Mark, Craig Stecyk, 1970s California and The Smiths, in equal parts. That feels very Beach Slang to me.

Speaking of Beach Slang  your style of music is like a fine mix of Jawbreaker, the Replacements, and even Goo Goo Dolls. Was that intended or when you guys started jamming out it just came together?

I had the first EP written before I ever played with the other gents so, yeah, it wasn’t a thing that came out of playing together. I’m not necessarily sure it was intended either. I think all the beautiful records I had been shoving into my ears finally shared themselves with my heart and my hands. Finally.

You are a punk DIY band. There is no arguing that. What was it like growing up a punker in Philly in the 90s?

I’m guessing probably a lot like growing up punk most other places—really, man, all of the things that really matter are pretty much the same. Kids feel misplaced so they write poems, pick up a guitar, start a band, make ‘zines, screen shirts, make posters—it stays the same because it needs to, right?  We’re all still those same wrecked kids looking to feel not so alone.

 

How was it to play Fest last October?

Fest is this beautiful car crash of everything that fucking matters. For one weekend every year, a whole bunch of punks get to takeover a college town and throw really loud parties. You get to leave behind all the things you want to forget and make a whole bunch of good trouble you never will. Baptism by amplifiers…yeah, it’s heaven.

Touring is not always the most fun. Tell me about a rough adventure you and the band experienced.

We’re fairly easily entertained. That stuff helps. But, yeah, on our last U.S. tour, we were doing like 75 mph across some Texas highway when our trailer tire blew out and we went into some wild skidding. Stuff like that is kind of not fun. But, mostly, we’re pretty A-OK. I mean, we do this thing because we love it. If it wasn’t fun, at least most of the time, I’d look for something else that was.

How do you pass the time when traveling?

Writing, reading, getting caught in tourist traps, meeting strange, wonderful people, drinking good beer and sometimes, I even sleep.

How well does the band see eye to eye with that huge age range difference? Do any of you find yourselves shaking your heads sometimes at your bandmates?

The age thing is a completely invisible, total non-factor in Beach Slang. Finally, my wild immaturity pays off.

You toured with Cursive. How rad was that? How did Cursive fans dig your sets?

It was pretty damn dream-come-true, you know? Their fans were wildly open-minded/open-eared and whether they dug or us didn’t, they gave us an honest chance. But, yeah, we were lucky enough that, far and away, they really seemed to be into the thing we do.

If you could tour with any band, current or past, who would you choose and why?

The Replacements but, you know, only if they wanted us there. I spend enough time being inconvenient. Why?—to me, they are the blueprint of everything a rock & roll band should be. I dig every fucking thing about them.

What is your favorite roadside meal?

Cheeseless pizza—easily.

Are you all super stoked to be playing overseas soon?

Wildly. We went to the UK & Europe for a couple weeks last year and it knocked my socks off in the absolute best way. We split in two days and I cannot wait for every out-of-control moment of this lovely time.

You’ve played my hometown of Cleveland a few times with a bunch bands I am pals with. What did you think of the city when you visited?

I dig it big. Look, for me, rock & roll is holy. And being able to have at the Hall of Fame is really right-on. There’s also a whole bunch of really sweet humans hiding out there. I cannot wait to make soft trouble with them again soon. Oh, and Melt is delicious.

Melt IS delicious…  Have any of you received a compliment over the years from a fan that stuck with you you in a positive manner and impacted they way you make music?

“I was going to kill myself and your songs made me not do that.” Yeah, that one will stick around for the rest of forever, you know?

What does it feel like to see all of these tattoos with Beach Slang lyrics pop up? I seriously need to add one to my personal human canvas.

I wanted to be a writer long before I ever picked up a guitar so, yeah, words are big, necessary things to me. What I mean is—those lyric tattoos mean fucking everything to me.

You guys are active as hell on social media. Do you get a lot of fans contacting you all of the time? How important is it to respond to everyone and not just ignore the appreciation?

Thanks, man. The Slang social media is all me. I mean, I write all the time. That stuff gives me a place to go with all of these words and pictures I make. I suppose you could say people contact me a lot, but that’s the whole thing, you know? It means everything. If writing back, thoughtfully, to everyone means less sleep for me, that’s really the least I can do. Look, it’s not lost on me how lucky I am that people care enough to write me a letter or care enough about Beach Slang or care enough to even participate in rock & roll. I want to always say ‘thank you’ and I want them to feel how sincerely I mean it.

Having grown up in the 90s myself, there are quite a few bands that I appreciated and do to this day, one of them being Hum. What bands from your past are you still obsessed with?

The Replacements, The Psychedelic Furs, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Pixies, The Smiths, The Clash, Jawbreaker, The Buzzcocks, Senseless Things, Tommy Keene, fuck, man, this list could go on and on for far too long.

I know your debut just dropped just last Fall, but as a Beach Slang fan I have to ask…when can we expect a follow up?

I have half of LP2 already written and home-demoed. The other half is finished in its skeletal state. I just have to work out the guitar overdubs, vocal harmonies and finalizing lyrics. Meaning the hardest part is already sussed. Then, it’s on to teaching the other Slangs and going into the studio. I plan on doing that before leaving for our full U.S. tour in late April. And releasing the thing in the Fall of 2016. We are also recording Mixtape Volume II and I’m recording a Quiet Beach Slang record with my acoustic guitar, a cellist and pianist. Both of those will be available before LP2. Yeah, this year is going to be alright.

I am seriously excited about all of that…thank you.  Your debut dropped on Polyvinyl, a label that happens to have Japandroids on. Can you please just tour with them in my backyard? I’ll grill tofu or beef. I hope you like babies and dogs.

You set that beautiful thing up and we’re there. We’re a band of vegetarians so, yeah, tofu works. And we dig both babies and dogs. So, yeah, let’s have a go.

Finally, did any of you ever think Beach Slang would blow up the way it did? Maybe you don’t think you have, but damn…tons of people adore you.

No way, man, not even a little. The most I ever dare to hope is someone might care, that something I write might matter. I hope it does. Thanks for making me think that maybe that might be.

The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us is available on LP/CD/Cassette/Download from Polyvinyl Records.

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

Interview: Joey Cape (Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes)

Why bother hiding it, the 15 year old in me is freaking out.  I got to chat it up with Joey freaking Cape.

I have been a fan easily for over 20 years now with everything Cape has done.  From Lagwagon to his solo material, I have always appreciated what Cape has brought into the music world.

Recently I heard about a new project Cape has created called One Week Records.  You see, Cape decided to turn his home into a studio where he….you know what?  Let’s just have Cape explain it.  Trust me, it is a hell of an idea…

One Week Records

BHP: Let’s talk about your all new project called One Week Records. To my understanding, this is a label you created where you invite an artist to your home to record an album in a week, right?

JC: Yes. That’s it.

Where did you come up with this awesome idea?

It is an idea I had a few years back and have been considering how to do it since.  It stems from my love of the honest production and approach of demos. Also, I am not a fan of the fact that albums and their romance are pieced out into single tracks falling into the shuffle of a chosen device. I believe an album should be heard as a whole and in the intended sequence of the performer and producer. That is why we sell them as one event and the reason we do not own certain mainstay editing tools such as pitch correct plug-ins.

How does your family like you turning your home into a bed and breakfast of sorts?

Haha. Yeah, My girls are cool with it. It allows me to be home with my wife and daughter and also marries my 2 very different lives, Home and tour. For many years I did not enjoy the thought that my wife did not know so many of my long term friends and my daughter may never know them. One Week allows me to bring these people to my home. They have meals and morning coffee with us and it is exciting for my daughter especially. She doesn’t know the difference between Chris Cresswell and Iggy Pop, so in her mind these famous people are coming to stay. It’s sweet. I’m careful not to invite anyone I do not know well enough of course. So far so good.

That is great.  Is One Week limited to just one artist at a time?

Yes, but some people choose to bring accompaniment

Cool.  So is the goal to record a song a day? Would you ever surpass the 7 song mark or would that defeat the purpose?

It’s actually 10 songs in 7 days with a One Week Record and 5 songs in 3 days with something we are calling a One Weekend record. The limitations are purposeful. There is not enough time to second guess everything and because of this there is a more raw and true outcome I think.

Brian Wahlstrom’s session is absolutely amazing. In fact, I encourage anyone reading this to go out and download it right now. I know he was part of a side project you worked on called Scorpios that sadly went on a hiatus due to the loss of a great man (RIP SLY). Did you pick Wahlstrom to debut on your label because of this?

Brian is a very close friend and incredibly talented. He is my latest musical soul mate. We work on everything together now. We co-wrote much of his record and he even worked with me on the new Lagwagon album. I knew he would make a great one week record first because we had such a great report. There was little pressure and plenty of chemistry and I love the idea that One Week gives me the opportunity to expose songwriters that many otherwise would never hear.

Chris Cresswell also released an album through One Week that is just incredible. How did he become involved early on?

Well, I have toured with Chris a bit with the Flatliners and I played an acoustic show with him and loved his voice and songs in that setting. Chris is one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever met. I can think of no one more pleasant to be around. Honestly, I was just as excited for him to meet my family than to record but, yes, I am very proud of his record. He is such an amazing song writer and has an exceptional voice.

Do you have anyone out there in the music world that you really want to record?

The list is endless. I have a sort of faith that these people will come to me like in Field Of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come”. Hahaha. I’m really biting my tongue and hoping for some of them to reach out. It’s better that way. I don’t ever want to solicit them because as friends it puts them in a position where they might feel they are disappointing me if they are not into it.

So how does someone become considered in being a part of this project?

Well, I have to really love the music. Otherwise, I don’t feel I would have much to offer other than engineering and that results in a poorly produced album. I met a few of the people I am doing records with on the road. For example, Brian and I ran a sort of contest. Don’t like that word. We chose a person in each city we played over a year to join us on stage during our set and play one of their own original songs. It’s better than an opening set because often people are not in the venue earlier to see the performance. This guaranteed them and their respective cities to meet. I loved each and every night we did it. People submitted YouTube videos and this was in the end a cleverly disguised and more so unintentional sort of scouting for One Week. So far I am recording three of the artists I found this way. I just finished a record with one of them, a guy named Jo Bergeron from Quebec City. He is amazing I think.

Hell yeah.  I can’t wait to hear what is created.  So, who is behind the artwork on each of the releases?

Each artist is asked to draw their own cover. Black sharpie on white paper. For better or worse it continues the emphasis on the individual personality of each record. I love it. If I every did one it would be really bad. I can barely write my name. Haha.

Ha. Will this strictly be online or do you think maybe one day you might put some of these songs on vinyl?

Each artist is allowed to print vinyl with anyone they choose. It’s kind of a joke but the contract reads that the artist simply has to give One Week one copy if they press. I collect vinyl and love it but I really just want to focus on the creative side of things and not physical manufacturing or the marketing of those things.

I like that idea. Win, win. So I have to ask… What happened to My Records? I was a huge fan of the only release on that label.

Wow. Well that was something completely different. I just found it to be too painful trying to distribute physical merchandise though the channels. too many middle people and when those people didn’t respond to the albums the way I did it was sad. One Week Records is B2C (business to customer). No issues here. If somewhere here’s a song streaming or whatever, they just buy it and again, they have to buy the entire record which is nice for both the artist and consumer I think. The events are inexpensive due to the low cost of producing them. I’m certain there is and will be many more labels doing this sort of thing in the near future.

Speaking of Nerf Herder, any chance Parry Gripp be recording anything with you soon?

He just might be on my list. Hehe

Do you have long term expectations with One Week Records or will you just take each week as it comes?

The latter. I have learned to simply enjoy the process and not set your self up for disappointment by having goals and expectations. My only goal is to make great records with great people.

I have the feeling that is going to happen over and over… So, what’s next for Joey Cape?

Lagwagon has a new album almost complete. So lots of touring I imagine and One Week Records in the in between tours whenever possible. Still, have my day job. Haha


Joey Cape is currently in the middle of recording and all new Lagwagon album that should be dropping later this year.

Check out One Week Records.

Check out Cape talking about his project:

Chris Cresswell and Cape cat:

Interview: Chris Stowe (A-F Records, White Wives, Worlds Scariest Police Chases, etc…)

Chances are if you’ve heard of Pittsburgh political punkers Anti-Flag, you’ve heard about their label A-F Records.

For the longest time, I thought A-F Records was just a fading memory as I did not see a lot of releases coming from the  independent label.  In fact, the label pretty much stopped putting out releases about 8 years ago…until recently.

A-F Records have gone through a huge overhaul and have reinvented themselves adding multiple artists to their roster in just the past year alone.

This said reconstruction can be credited to Mr. Chris Stowe who has been working hard the last couple of years to make the independent label even bigger.  He’s the label manager / jack of all trades.

Last year alone, Stowe was the man who added All Dinosaurs, Worship This!, and Worlds Scariest Police Chases (WSPC) to the roster.  This year he will be releasing his own solo album on the label as well as look for more well-deserving bands to add to the A-F  family.

As if busting his ass for the label is not enough, Stowe has a solo project going on, rocks out with White Wives, and is also a permanent substitute of sorts for WSPC.  Needless to say, he is a busy, busy man.

Recently, I was able to catch up with Stowe who was still in heavy celebrations for signing himself to the very label he represents.  Check out what he had to say:

Chris Stowe

BHP: Hey man, thanks for taking some time to chat with me today. What have you been up to recently?

CS: No prob man.   Lately we’ve just been laying the ground work for our 2014 releases we’ve got planned and just trying to be as prepared for that as [soon as] possible.  We’ve made some moves to expand this year and i’m stoked about that.

I am sure many can agree with me that A-F Records has revitalized themselves over the last couple years. Word on the street is that you have been pouring your blood and sweat into the label. How did you happen to fall into this role?

Blood and sweat huh?  To be honest, I’m not really sure how the hell I ended up doing this.  A few years ago, I joined White Wives [and] then got to know Chris and Chris [#2] through being in that band with them.  Then Anti-Flag needed someone to drive/tour manage them for Warped Tour two summers ago and they asked if i could do it.  Since I’ve never experienced anything like that, I jumped at the opportunity.

We talked a lot about label stuff while we were out there and how it would be cool to be able to put out records.  When we got home, the dudes decided they wanted to make that bacon shaped picture disc thing and all of a sudden we had relaunched A-F Records and I was managing it.

Just like that?  Crazy.  To someone who may not know of the indie label A-F Records, can you give them some history?

Yeah sure.  Anti-Flag started A-F Records in 1997 to release Their System Doesn’t Work For You and then they just grew from there.  They put out a ton of classic punk records.  Reagan Squad was amazing, The Unseen, etc.  In the early 2000s, they continued to grow with the boom of the record industry and put out a ton of great bands but eventually fell prey to the great collapse in 2006 and then eventually went dormant around 2008 until we relaunched it last year.

Some of these hand-picked bands on the current roster are top-notch in my book, but also seem to challenge the former A-F  alumni. Would you agree?

Hmmmm, not sure what you mean by “challenge” here? I’m thinking maybe you mean that they’re not necessarily in the same genre of political punk rock as some of the old A-F Records bands?

Yeah, I meant the political punk rock.  Sorry about that.  Can you tell me when you say you hope to move A-F into a less genre specific label that you might try something completely different, say like gangster folk? I kid about that of course but not really.

Gangster folk.  That sounds terrible, so probably not. But I mean, I’m not opposed to anything as long as it’s awesome and the people that made it are awesome.

My end goal with the label is to put out great records that are pieces of sonic and visual art, and that’s it.  I feel like we’ve done that so far with our new bands even though they don’t necessarily live within a specific genre, and that’s how i think it should be anyways.

Ideally in the next few years, I’m hoping to move A-F records into being a less genre specific label and we’ve got a bunch of stuff coming out this year that we hope challenges our core group of hard core fans and also brings some new faces into the family at the same time.

Speaking of new faces… Who would win in a street fight: Worship This! or World’s Scariest Police Chases?

Police Chases obviously, as they will have zero problem fighting dirty. pepper spray, dick punches, purple nurples, etc.

I appreciate the detail in that answer.  

When A-F Records started, social media was barely existent. These days though it is almost impossible to not be emerged in. How are you taking advantage of social media to better the label?

It’s definitely got its good and bad elements, but mostly the key to properly utilizing all of the various social media outlets is to just keep your crowd engaged.  The best response we’ve had I feel has come from the level of personal engagement we have with people that follow our bands and buy our records.

Anti Flag celebrated their 20th year as a band last year. I was 17. How old were you?

I was 8.  That’s over 2/3 of my lifetime that these dudes have been together…it’s really amazing.

You were 8?  Holy shit. I feel old now. Thanks dude. Seriously though, that is beyond amazing. You are living a punk rock dream.

Yeah, 8 years old. There’s a John Waters quote, and I’m paraphrasing, that goes something like, “if you want to do what you love for a living, plan on interning for yourself for at least 20 years”,  and I feel like that definitely applies in music.  Just don’t stop doing it, no matter how hard it gets, and eventually you’ll find that you accidentally made a job for yourself.

Anti-Flag - 20 Years of Hell 7" VinylThat was deep dude.  Well said.  So, whose idea was it for the 20 Years of Hell subscription series?

That idea kind of evolved from a combination of a bunch of different ideas, so no one person was responsible for it i don’t think. We mostly just wanted to kind of create a platform to engage people in a new way, which i think we did with the subscription website. Ultimately, we did the whole thing as a project of love for the real hardcores, ya know?  I can’t tell you how hard it is to die-cut 3000 record sleeves…

How’s the response been so far?

Really great.  I feel like my favorite part is that, since it’s mostly just myself and Josh Massie – Anti-Flag merch guy / most helpful dude ever – communicating with the subscribers, I’ve been able to develop a cool personal relationship with a lot of kids that I wouldn’t have otherwise come in contact with.

A-F  seems to be leading in throwing contests lately. Can you tell me the current contest that is going on?

We just wrapped up the Anti-Flag “Power To The Peaceful” cover contest, which was awesome.  We got so many really good submissions for that, and they’re all up on our YouTube page.

Our next contest is going to be really cool and involve some rad Anti-Flag gear. Stay tuned on that.

Being a musician yourself, how tough is it to pack up all the A-F  orders, mail them out, and then play a White Wives or WSPC show let alone focus on your solo stuff?

I’m not sure how many people know.  It can definitely be a challenge to get everything done sometimes, but it’s also such a blessing to be busy doing shit that you love you know?  I mean, basically my dream was to one day be doing music constantly, and I’ve somehow pulled that off so that’s cool.  And it’s not just my music, it’s my solo stuff, White Wives, WSPC, plus all the A-F bands we’re working on this year.  It’s a dream job dude, for real.

Hell yeah.  So when is your solo stuff supposed to drop?  Anything Wives related you care to mention?

I can’t really speak to Wives stuff, but I’ve got a record coming out on A-F this summer as Chris Stowe.

Chris StoweHow’s it feel to be signed, a rock star, and have your own material coming out on wax?

It’s not that cool dude. “Hey Stowe, you wanna sign this Stowe guy?  Sure Stowe, if you like it I’m all for it.  Well sounds good, Stowe,  you’re signed!” It does feel good.

I believe that.  So I noticed the pre-orders for your solo release have posted to the A-F site already.  Charlie Brown yellow may be the most unique color I have heard of in a while. Is there any reason behind this?

I just love the peanuts man, always have.  Plus I like to come up with cool “inside” names for our vinyl colors like Forest County green.  Forest County is a magical place in PA that I go camping with my buddies every summer and a lot of my record was inspired by that part of the country.

So how were you suckered into WSPC? I will not lie, they are currently one of my favorite bands right now and it has nothing to do with my bromance via instagram with DeLucia.

Well, DeLucia, in real life, became a mailman. and he couldn’t play Fest last year, so I learned all the songs and played in his place – although my head blew up after just 1 song so I didn’t end up playing Fest really… Then I played some more out of town shows with them, Detroit and Asbury Park…then they tried to kick me out, but I got real sad about it so they let me stick around.  Now there’s too many guitar players.

Tell me about A-F Records and Turnstyle Films. I might have heard a little something something…

Yeah we’ll have to keep the kids in suspense on that for a little while longer. I will say that we’ll be working heavily with Turnstyle this year on a ton of projects, which i’m excited for. They are amazing at what they do.

I credit A-F for making Cleveland and Pittsburgh friends again. What city do you think you will swoon over next?

I love Cleveland. A lot. And Pittsburgh. A lot. I’m not sure I can take credit for them becoming friends again, I feel like they always have been. We’ve both got amazing music scenes and live in the same economical climate for the most part, so it only makes sense to me that we should combine forces as much as possible.

What is next for Chris Stowe?

Just A-F Records stuff, solo stuff, maybe a secret band no one has heard yet….all the stuff. ALL.

What about A-F Records?  Seems like the label has built up a ton of momentum as of late and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Yup, just forging ahead. Going to put out some great stuff this year and see where that takes us. the future is bright.


Head on over to A-F Records site and secure your copy of Stowe’s upcoming release of Hallow.  The album drops in late June.

For more info on everything else A-F related, check out the A-F Records website.

Interview: Chris McCaughan of Sundowner / The Lawrence Arms

A couple of months back, I remember getting an email from the good folk at Fat Wreck Chords stating that Chris McCaughan of The Lawrence Arms would be delivering another installment of his solo material, also known as Sundowner.

I was beyond stoked to learn of this as I was a big fan of McCaughan’s last Sundowner release and maybe dig The Lawrence Arms a whole lot.  Hopefully there are a few of you out there who can agree with me on both statements.

Anyways, Neon Fiction is just an amazing release and I can not stop listening to it.  I have not had time to do a proper review of the album on there here website, but I was asked if I wanted to chat with McCaughan about it.  Of course I said yes to that.

Chris and I were able to catch up on the good ol’ Internets and he was kind enough to talk about his new release.  Check it out:

Sundowner

BHP: So the last time we chatted about 3 years ago,  LeBron had kicked Cleveland in the nuts and you just released We Chase The Waves. I guess what I am trying to ask is, what the heck have you been up to?

CM: I remember. Nice to chat again. Not sure I can condense the last three years of my life into a brief synopsis of what have I been up to? So, let’s just say I’ve been livin’, man. L-I-V-I-N.

I heard you no longer live in Chicago these days.  Is that true?  What prompted the big move to the West Coast?

True. I was born and raised in Chicago. So I take that place with me where ever I go. And, anyone who knows me knows how much I identify with and love that city. But I was ready for something in my life to change and felt like a new surround would be good for me. Also, my girlfriend is from the West Coast and, after having lived in Chicago for several years, she was ready to be closer to home and out of the harsh winter. So that was part of it. But, having toured and traveled extensively in my life I wanted to know what it was like to actually live in a new place. It’s an entirely different experience. I still spend a lot of time in Chicago though, so I feel a bit like a habitant of multiple places.

You just dropped an all-new release on Fat Wreck Chords titled Neon Fiction. Care to tell me about it?

Neon Fiction is the culmination of songs I was writing somewhere in the span of Fall ‘11 into the Spring of ‘12. It’s hard to remember the exact time frame. I didn’t write this with specific intentions or deadlines or ideas about how it would all come together. It may sound ridiculous, but I really was just writing the songs I write. I’ve gotten questions over the years like how do you know when it’s a Sundowner song or a TLA song? And the truth is I just don’t think about it in that way. Or, perhaps, a bit more accurately, I just know innately. This is, simply, me and these are the songs I write. Some people ask if this is more than a side-project now and, again, I don’t think in those terms. This is part of what I do and my goals are to try to write great songs and make cool records. That’s the part I can control and that’s what Neon Fiction is to me.

I guess, in some ways, I feel like I’ve had this record in me for long time, but it took certain conditions in my life to write it. Part of that was letting go. There was definitely a time when I felt like no one would ever hear any of this and that didn’t bother me at all. I was completely at peace with that.

But, when I was finally ready, I fronted the production so we wouldn’t have to make hard decisions on the front end. We could focus on the songs and the work. We tracked it at Atlas Studio in Chicago. As usual, I teamed up with Neil Hennessy on the record. The goal was to try to make an awesome album, with cool sounds. We consciously tried to shift the perspective from the previous Sundowner albums. I felt like that was essential. We wanted layers and different kind of landscapes for the songs, and for each song. I wanted to challenge myself but work within my range. I wasn’t trying to reinvent anything.

I feel very fortunate to be working with Fat Wreck. And it meant a lot to me that everyone over there liked the songs and the album. I’m so grateful for so many people in my life who have made this possible and who have continued to be supportive over so many years. So, it’s been an amazing experience and I’m so stoked it’s out.

Does the title of the album have any hidden meaning behind it? Sounds like a typical Vegas adventure to me.

For me it just captures the nature and vibe of the collection. That was the primary goal of the title. Admittedly, I struggled naming the record. I asked my friend Ben Pier, who is a photographer living in NYC, to shoot a bunch of stuff for the album. Once we chose the cover photo it started to all make more sense to me. It’s a city record. The songs are heavily influenced by my sensory perception and how I specifically interact with environments. So lights and sounds are heavy contributors to the overall landscape, the lyrics and sonic qualities. And, honestly, I just like the way it sounds. That’s a hugely important factor to me in a title. Also, Neon Fiction has some origins for me. It’s a bit of a tip of the hat to Chicago writer, Nelson Algren, who wrote a book called Neon Wilderness. And it’s a bit of a play on Non Fiction, as the record is full of half-truths.

SundownerSo when did you start writing Neon Fiction? We you looking to write another Sundowner album, or did you just find yourself with a bunch of songs that needed a home?

I didn’t sit down to write a record. But I wouldn’t say I just found myself with a bunch of songs either. I was writing with no real goal in mind. Just writing to write. I wasn’t thinking about how or where or why. I wasn’t focused on some kind of end game. I guess somewhere in the process, when the songs began to accumulate, it occurred to me that I felt strongly about the material. At that point things felt more magnetic. I was being pulled to some kind of end and then I felt compelled to figure all the other things out so that I could make it. I’ve thought about this in a lot of different ways. In terms of the song writing I would say it this way: It’s like I was a kid out in a field in the evening with a mason jar and a lid trying to catch fireflies. Got one. Here’s another. And at some point I’d caught so many I was excited enough to go show someone.

I swore that you stated before that you were not really going to go the solo acoustic music route in the past, but here you are. Has the popularity of punk rockers following this trend changed your mind?

I’m pretty sure I never said that. Certainly not in that way. I’ve been playing as a solo acoustic artist since 2005 or 2006, when I first began writing acoustic stuff and the first Sundowner record started to come together. So, no, the popularity of the genre has nothing to do with my choices or decisions as an artist. I’m just trying to write and live a life that’s authentic and genuine to me. That’s it, man.

Can we expect you to be onboard the next Revival Tour then?

I have a great amount of respect for Chuck Ragan. He’s just an amazing guy. I first met Chuck years ago when TLA toured with Hot Water Music and I’ve had the good fortune of performing on Revival tour and doing shows with him here and there over the years. It’s always an incredible collection of talented and passionate artists he puts together for Revival and I always feel honored when he reaches out to me in any way.

I thought “Concrete Shoes” was exceptional. What made your feet so heavy that you had to write a song about it?

We live in a sticky world, man. And, I guess, at times my feet felt pretty heavy against the pavement. Just trying to get off the ground.

Was there a certain track you favored over the rest on Neon Fiction?

I’m proud of the record as a collection of songs. They belong together and I think they make each other better. And that was the goal. If I absolutely had to pick one maybe it would be Poet of Trash? Maybe My Beautiful Ruins? Grey on Grey? I don’t know, man. I have an array of feelings and connections to them all.

Overall, was there a theme surrounding all of the songs on this album?

There are a lot of themes and sub-themes. But generally speaking, it’s a record about self-acceptance and self-actualization. It’s about letting go of the things that you can’t control and being honest with who you are, embracing your nature.

Seems like I am not the only one who is digging Neon Fiction. How are you taking the feedback so far from everyone who pre-ordered the release?

It feels great to have such a positive response to the songs. And, of course, I’m happy it seems to have had some impact on listeners already. But I try not to worry too much about all of that or read into it too much. I just continue to be thankful that I’m in a position to share the work, keep believing in the craft and the process.

Who all helped you this round on Neon Fiction? How much did Neil Hennessy pitch in again?

Neil played bass and drums. I did all the guitars and vocals. That’s it. Neil is an incredibly talented musician and has been an essential part of making the Sundowner records. This record was no different. His contribution to Neon Fiction was enormous. He helped catalyze and actualize so much of what was in my head. I feel lucky to have a partnership with him that has created conditions to work in this way. Justin Yates, who works with Matt Allison at Atlas studio where we made the record, engineered and helped produce which allowed Neil and myself to really focus in on performance. Neil is a true craftsman, one of the best dudes, and we’ve had a, sort of, musical kinship for a long time. He has a sharp and sophisticated ear and what he brings to the studio, or to any project, is invaluable.

I know you hardly toured with the last Sundowner release, but that is all changing this time. How does it feel to be hitting the road without your full-time band? Any plans on expanding that tour?

Over the years I’ve played solo quite a bit, so I don’t anticipate it’ll feel too strange. This fall I’ll be doing some small runs of shows here and there and we’ll see what happens. Not getting too far ahead right now. I try to do this in the way that works best for me and not get too concerned by others expectations.

Just curious, but were you asked to cover a Tony Sly song for his upcoming tribute release? I didn’t see you on the track listing and was curious if that was due to your own choice.

Tony Sly was a great guy and an amazing songwriter. TLA and No Use toured together a bunch and I was fortunate enough to get to know him and spend some time around him. He’s deeply missed. If it’d worked out that I could’ve contributed a song that would have been awesome and an honor. But it didn’t. Don’t read too much into it.

Rumor has it that the Lawrence Arms have new material recorded. When can we expect that to drop?

There’s a new TLA record. It exists. We’re excited. That’s about all I can tell you.

So, what’s next for Sundowner?

It’s September. Neon Fiction is out. Shows ahead. I’m stoked and thankful. Just trying to live in the present moment and do the best version of me I can.


Pick up the new Sundowner on Fat Wreck Chords.

Sundowner is playing Now That’s Class in Cleveland on Sept 26th. with Meridian and The House Of Wills.  Tickets are only $10.  Do not miss out on this show!!!

Sundowner @ Now That's Class