Category Archives: Interview

Interview: Yotam Ben Horin of Useless ID

Quick note to start things off: If you haven’t heard of Useless ID and have appreciation for punk rock, I can honestly say you are missing out on an amazing band and should check them out now.

I’ve been a fan of these guys for a long time now.  They are one of the hardest working bands out there that most people probably have not heard about.  If one or two people find this blog and turn into Useless ID fans, then my job is done.

With that said, let’s continue…

I’m happy to say I got to interview someone who I truly admire as a musician.  Apologies in advance for the long read, but the outcome of this interview was great and I did not want to cut anything out of it.

Yotam Ben Horin fronts Useless ID and to say he is a busy man is an understatement.  He’s fronted the Israeli punk band for 20 years now, toured the US solo for what seemed like most of last year, and seemingly is always doing something either with his band or solo.

Useless ID dropped State is Burning earlier this year on Fat Wreck Chords and it is easily one of my favorite releases of 2016.  Granted there is no proper review of it (yet) on this here ol’ site, I will tell you I listen to it often.

Yotam was cool enough to take some time out of his busy day to chat with me about the new Useless ID album among other things.  Check it out:


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BHP: First up, I can not tell you how excited I am to hear you are coming back to the states with Useless ID to tour with NOFX. How stoked are you for this tour?

YBH:  For us it’s crazy.  When Useless ID started out, NOFX were one of the key influences to our sound.  There was Green Day and Offspring slowly rising and I liked both at the time, but the good stuff to me was finding NOFX in Thrasher magazine, they just didn’t play by any rules. We played many shows with NOFX throughout our career and they always treated us like family, always having a great time and now this tour. We are stoked as hell and can’t wait!

If I recall correctly, you spent some time in the states a little while back and played tons of solo shows in support of your solo album. Seemed like you were here for a while.  How did that whole tour work out for you?

Well, basically I reached a breaking point in life where I got lost in rent, taxes, and pretty much dug myself into a ditch playing bass for this production in Israel.

yotam1I started hating music altogether cause it became a job so I decided I need a break from life. We celebrated a 20 year anniversary show with Useless ID and I flew to the U.S 3 days later for the next 6 months. I didn’t really have a plan to go solo, I just needed a break to kind of figure out who I am and what I want to do. During this time, I bought a car and booked a few shows in the LA area.  I met a few people and then got an offer to open for the Ataris, so I did that for a few weeks.  From there, I got offered to play bass for Sic Waiting and opened a string of west coast shows as well and that lead to a tour with this French solo artist Forest Pooky.  I let life kind of write itself and didn’t bother interfering and that eventually lead to the recording of the unplanned second solo record “California Sounds” since I’ve been performing with all these new songs that really started taking shape.

That’s insane.  I had no idea it was more than just a tour for you.  Going back home had to be nice after that, but seeing how Useless ID dropped a new release earlier this year, sounds like you and the band did not rest at all.

I had a few songs scattered around that I let the guys hear but not an album’s worth of material, so with my break it gave us time apart and time to draw new inspirations which worked out for the best cause when I returned in June, it was full on writing the new record.  Ishay also brought some songs in so it changed things up.  We had around 50 songs to choose from, we all collectively liked the 15 that made the cut so it worked out great.

It’s been four years  between albums.  Was there any reason for a delay in releases?

We don’t want to release an album every two years cause we have to, we did that in the early days, we were younger, not that I’m against it.  As a writer, I usually like doing other things before I dive back into a new Useless ID record like a solo album or a trip somewhere or have a certain change happen to me.  I don’t like sticking to the same subject either, so if I’m writing about my deteriorating relationship (Symptoms), I wouldn’t want the next record to be about that again so certain time needs to pass and certain changes need to happen.  Honestly, now with the new drummer Corey in the fold, there is a sudden urgency in our sound and live show so I have a feeling the next one should be written sooner than planned.

useless-idI can certainly appreciate that.  So, tell me about your new album State is Burning.  It’s so much harder sounding than the previous release Symptoms. What prompted the change back to your punk rock roots?

We did a European tour in the summer of 2013 and by the first day we were walking in Italy somewhere and Ishay randomly says to me “Our next record should be shorter songs like Frenzal Rhomb or something.” We all love Frenzal Rhomb and it made total sense to me.  We put out Symptoms but ended up playing like 2-3 songs off of it at shows so something was clearly not working with these tunes live. As a studio album, I think it’s great, but not my favorite of ours.  I started thinking maybe I should go back and listen to all those records that got me into this in the first place like NOFX, No Use, Propagandhi, Bad Religion, Pennywise etc.  I was getting a vision for it, in a way, “write the record that you as a 15-year-old fan would want to hear.”  Since I’ve been writing from an artists perspective on “Symptoms” and “Broken Bones”, I wrote from a Fat Wreck fan [perspective] on “State” and it’s my favorite Useless ID record.

That’s awesome.  I really do dig this new one a lot.  “Borrowed Time” was one that stood out to me.  Are there any tracks on the new release you dig more than the rest?

I love “Land of idiocracy.”  I heard it like a zillion times before it was released cause it pretty much sums up all of my frustration living in Israel. I really like “Closer to the edge” as well since it’s my “departure from work life” anthem.

I think “Genetic” is one of the best songs I’ve ever written and it all came to me in 5 minutes while I was out for a run on the beach before a Useless ID rehearsal.  We worked on it the same day and that was that.

yotam2So, tell me just a little about yourself. I’m just curious how you have gotten to where you are today.

From a very young age, I always had a very strong personality about what I want[ed] to do, so when I picked up the guitar at 13, that was it for me,  I knew from that point that I want[ed] to be in a band so when I met the Useless Id guys in ’95 who already existed, I knew that I must join these guys and be on the road.  My first tour with Useless ID was in 1997, I was 18.  I had already played two shows with them in 1996, but I had another year of high school which I dropped out of anyways.  I don’t like getting too comfortable with anything and sometimes it backfires cause I feel as if life is not moving anymore and I like to keep things interesting, create as much as I can, music, art, poetry any figure of self expression appeals to me, and I can’t do without it.  I can lock myself up for weeks watching 80’s movies or something from my past just to trigger a feeling and then the songs come out.

I am sure you are asked this a lot, but what is the punk scene like in Israel?  How is the scene viewed there?

The scene always had its ups and downs.  In 1996, me and a group of friends started this short lived movement in Israel called “Haifa City Hardcore”.  We booked shows, put out tapes, and tried to create a scene but it didn’t really take off.  Then in the early 2000s, I felt like there was some sort of a punk revival – in terms of Israel it’s still pretty small – but the scene was kind of dead in the 90s as far as punk goes.

I can happily say Useless ID was the first punk band from Israel that just took off to the U.S with only one planned show in Gilman St. and learned the ropes through being there and seeing how it’s done.  Nowadays, many Israeli punk bands are touring all over the place cause it’s much easier to book a tour so that’s improved for sure.  I’ve been punk since I moved to Israel in 1993.  I was lame cause I only knew Nirvana, Sex Pistols and Pixies who are considered close to punk and not really punk, so when a year later I discovered all the other stuff through a skateboarding friend [like] Minor Threat, DRI, Black Flag, I knew I found my sound and wondered why I hadn’t till now. I liked the fact that it was underground and hard to find.  

As for the genre, people frown upon this genre cause they listen to middle eastern music, which is by far the worst form of music, and exists only in Israel.  Extremely shitty lyrics with assholes and other dickheads making it and getting famous cause the majority are made up of morons… It’s so shit.

Sounds like recent American hip-hop music, but worse.  I know Israel is a lot different from the states in terms of adversary, but I only know so much about their culture.  I’m just curious, what are some of the major differences in terms of the punk scene from Israel and the US?

I think the biggest thing is that no punk band could live off of their music in Israel.  It doesn’t matter how good you are or how hard you try, the scene is just way too small to accept it as they do in the US where great bands like Descendents or Against Me! can actually make a living playing shows and releasing records, that’s amazing. For any artist, the biggest reward is to be able to live off your art.

So true.  What do you like about current American culture?

Well I grew up in New York in the 80s, so that whole era really speaks in volumes to me and always has.  That sense of naiveté in everything from WWF, John Hughes movies, [and] pop music.  These are the kind[s] of things that can make me choke up like the theme song from the sitcom “Learning the Ropes”.  I like the possibilities in the US.  You can just come out of nowhere with a guitar and if there’s enough passion there, anything is possible.  Having Joey Cape produce a record with me, that would never happen had I stayed in Israel minding my own business.

What don’t you like?

I guess like any other culture the majority decides, getting someone like Donald Trump so far in as a candidate is crazy but that just proves that anything being possible in the U.S. can backfire badly.

I do not even want to thank about that.  So, has Useless ID ever come close to calling it quits over the past 2 decades?  Care to talk about some of the challenges faced?

We have been around for 21 years now so there were obviously some breaking points along the way, but something kept us together and it wasn’t the fear of breaking up. We just love our band, we care too much about the music we do and we don’t want to play these tunes with other people.  There’s a certain energy going on between the four of us cause we come from similar musical backgrounds, but at the same time, we are so different as people and all opinionated.  I think that’s what [makes] a band like The Beatles or The Ramones the greatest band in the world.  The different characters; everyone in the band brought something else to the table.  We’ve obviously had some fallouts in the past but the band is at a very good place right now.  We’re promoting our best record to date and the shows have all been crazy fun.

YotamTell me, what does it feel like to play your heart out in front of all of your fans?

We just did a short run of Russia and Japan and all four shows were packed and great!  I told this to one of the guys last night – in Japan I don’t really feel like I’m playing a show, I’m more like floating on cloud 9 for an hour.  When you have a room packed with people who know every word you wrote and just lose their shit when you play its like an [out-of]-body experience.  You just lose sense of time and life all of a sudden has a different pace.

How did this upcoming tour with NOFX happen?  I know you are stoked about it.

We were just about done with the mixes of “State is Burning” at The Blasting Room and decided to send it to Fat Mike.  By the next day, Mike told me how much he loved the record and would be honored to put it out, so I knew he liked it and eventually we got a mail from Kent Jamieson asking us to do this upcoming tour.  

We are stoked as hell!  Doing all these shows alone in the US for the past two years, I promised many fans that I’d be back with Useless ID soon enough and here we are and PEARS are with us too so that’s extra fun, those guys are nuts!

PEARS are so good.  Stoked for you all to be back on tour in the states.  Might as well ask, what do you do to pass the time while on tour?

I read a lot, take pictures, write in my journal.  If I’m in the U.S., I film a lot of footage and edit them into funny short 5 minute movies called “DRIVER”.  It’s my alter ego in the U.S.  I grow out a beard, wear a trucker cap, a flannel and pretty much turn myself into a Chuck Ragan lookalike. During the long drives, I listen to a lot of music, stuff I don’t know. The drives are good for that.  I find time to exercise, go for a run or workout to stay in shape and not completely lose it.

I need to find some DRIVER clips.  That sounds amazing.  You are very active on social media.  Obviously we did not have this 20 years ago.  How important is it to you to be able to connect to your fans globally thanks to social media?

It’s very important.  That’s the cool thing with Facebook.   For example, I use it mostly for musical purposes less about writing my opinions on politics or what I just ate or who had a baby.  I try to put something there every day whether a picture of where I’m at, a live video playing songs for the people at home, and saying hi to friends all over the world.  My mission overall, besides making music, is to show people that there is an alternative even if it’s hard and a struggle, it’s all possible.  Once you focus your energy into something you really, really love and believe there’s no room for failure and if you do fail, it’s just an obstacle, you get back up and try again.  I receive many mails about people telling me how I inspired them to drop everything and hit the road or form a bluegrass band or go solo, anything.  It means the world to me seeing that.

That’s just perfect,  Wow.  Now that Useless ID has dropped something, when can we expect more solo material from you?

I have an album in Hebrew coming out soon which I wrote in 2013 and recorded in 2014 -before my U.S disappearing- and just finished mastering it a few weeks ago.  Other than that, I’ve been writing alot for my upcoming “One Week Record” which Joey Cape will be producing this coming November.  He really pushed me to write better songs and I’m still writing for it.

I love Cape’s One Week Record project.  I can not wait to hear that when it comes out.  What about the next Useless ID album, any plans on the next release?

As I mentioned before, it’s probably good to tour “State Is Burning” some more before we decide to write the next one, I have a feeling it’s going to be great. I really want us to continue doing the faster stuff for the next one but you never know which direction it’ll go.

Finally, what’s next for Yotam?

As for me, I took up Muay-Thai Kickboxing for the past 4 months and I’m loving it and what it’s adding to my self-confidence, so I’m thinking of doing a month of training in Thailand, hopefully start lining up some solo tours afterwards once my One Week record is out.  {I have] got a few musician friends in mind I really want to tour with for sure. I  have ideas for a few books I want to write so I’m going to try to jump into that for a while and see how it goes.  What else?  There’s a Useless ID movie in the works so were gathering a lot of footage for that at the moment. That’s me, always looking forward to the next exciting thing!

Sheesh man.  You are really keeping busy.  I’ll let you go so you can get back to all of that.  Thank you Sir!


Now here I am sitting here wondering what the hell I am doing with my life while he is kickboxing and traveling the world and even making movies.  I can always just live vicariously through him.  Someone needs to keep updating this site!

BTW – Proud father moment.  I just realized my kiddo is in a Useless ID video:

I really need to thank the band for adding my little dude into their video.

Check out State is Burning below and if you dig it, head over to Fat Wreck and grab a copy.

Useless ID is touring with NOFX and PEARs this November.  Check them out if you can!

11/02/16 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
11/03/16 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
11/04/16 – Vancouver, BC Canada – Commodore Ballroom
11/05/16 – Vancouver, BC Canada – Commodore Ballroom
11/07/16 – Edmonton, AB Canada – Union Hall
11/08/16 – Edmonton, AB Canada – Union Hall
11/09/16 – Calgary, AB Canada – MacEwan Hall
11/11/16 – Winnipeg, MB Canada – Burton Cummings Theatre
11/12/16 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze on the West Bank
11/13/16 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
11/14/16 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
11/16/16 – Omaha, NE – Sokol Auditorium
11/17/16 – Lawrence, KS – Liberty Hall
11/18/16 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live!

Interview: Trever Keith of Face To Face

FaceToFace45020 years ago, I didn’t care about many things in  life except for punk rock.  I lived and breathed the genre and knew that it was for me.  I fit the role, spoke the language, and enjoyed every single second of it.

I grew up, but refused to leave my love for punk rock behind.  The best times of my life were fueled by the music and filled with other advocates of the genre.  There’s no way I could ever give up something like that.

When I think about the bands in the 90s that meant the the most to me, Face To Face was at the top.  This So-Cal pop punk outfit was the soundtrack to so many episodes of my life.  Their music is timeless and never has grown dull on me.

Fronted by Trever Keith, the band is celebrating 25 years of being a band this year and decided to put out an all new release on a label that is an old friend of theirs – Fat Wreck Chords.

I am actually in the middle of reviewing their new album Protection, but became so amped while listening to it that I wanted to reach out to Trever Keith and just throw a bunch of questions at him.  Of course he was cool with it.  Check it out…

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BHP: First things first, Face to Face is back with Fat Wreck Chords for an all new release in 2016. How did the band and Fat get hooked up again?

TK: I finally figured out that it would be a good idea and I emailed Erin and asked if she wanted to hear our demos. She did and then told Mike. It was very easy

I have to put this out there… I was stoked Face To Face got back together in the late 2000s. You once told me there was a remote chance the band would regroup, but nothing was certain. Was it the fans that brought the band back?

I would say so. We have such a loyal following. The real appeal for us was getting to play live again as face to face. The fans make the live show what it is. We missed that. There is nothing else like it.

The new album is incredible.  What did you guys do differently this time to capture a younger sounding Face To Face and put it in your new material?

We just went back to a simpler more immediate style of arrangement and song. I think they convey the message more clearly. There was a simplicity and honesty to our earlier records. We tried to key into that.

It seriously sounds like you all had fun recording this. This was not a forced release by any means. Am I correct in stating that?

Absolutely. The whole experience really feels like it zoomed by.

“Bent But Not Broken” sounded like a war cry to me as in Face To Face is still here and not going anywhere soon. Was that the intention?

It’s not about us as a band, although I would agree with your sentiment that we intend to stick around for a while longer. It’s more about the type of person who is unwilling to think outside of their dogma.

What is your favorite track off the album? I dig “Double-Crossed” and “See If I Care” a ton, perhaps because they hit on some of my harder times in life.

“Keep Your Chin Up” is probably my favorite song

So, who all is in the band this time around? Scott is, I know that much. 

Danny, who has been drumming with us since 2008, is on the record and so is Dennis Hill who has had guest guitar spots on both records since we started playing again.

Can we expect a proper US tour for this release?

That depends on what you mean by “proper”. I can at least tell you that we plan on hitting all of the big cities.

So how does it feel to be back in the band doing your thing?

Amazing

The band has been around since 1991, did you ever think that Face To Face would ever be around for this long?

I never doubted it, but I never really thought too much about it. It’s not surprising to me. They know what they’re doing over there.

Now that you all are more seasoned musicians and humans for that matter, how different is touring versus back in the 90s?

We get tired easier. There are naps…

I remember seeing Face To Face at the Warped Tour in 2010 and literally yelling at kids to get off their asses and get closer to the stage. Did it bug you seeing those kids more amped to see new acts over yours, or were you guys too busy playing to your true fans?

Trying to focus more on the people who were there to see us.

Out of all of your albums, which one would you consider was your finest?

Protection.

In 2008, you dropped a solo release called Melancholics Anonymous. Personally speaking, I loved that album and still listen to it once in a while. Do you think you will ever go that route again?

I doubt it. It was a fun record to make and I even did a brief tour supporting it. These days Face To Face is enough for me.

What do you think about the music these days? Are there any newer acts that impress you?

Western Settings, Iron Chic, Radioactivity

Finally, this is more of a personal question… Why was Big Choice never properly released on vinyl? That promotional album is the white elephant of all LPs out there to me and one day I would love to have a copy in my hands one day. Seeing the album passed the 20 year mark, I’m just curious why it never made it to the turntable.

I am reissuing Don’t Turn Away, Big Choice, and Face to Face on 180 gram colored gatefold, limited edition vinyl in 2016 on my Antagonist Records label to celebrate our 25th Anniversary as a band.


Can I tell you how excited that last answer made me?  I did not even get to close the interview down, I immediately looked if those LPs were up for pre-order yet.

Face To Face’s new album Protection drops March 4th on Fat Wreck Chords.  Head on over to pre-order it by clicking HERE.

Check out a new track off the release:

Here’s the music video the band just released for “Bent But Not Broken”:

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:

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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: