Tag Archives: Acoustic

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

7-Inch Reviews: Jonathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith”

Sometimes a review is tough to start.  I find myself sitting here trying to think of how I am going to select the right words to create an introduction to the musician or band that I would like to share with the world.

I find this blog entry particularly a little more difficult to start out with not only because I am a huge fan of the musician of the EPs I am about to talk about, but I am equally a huge fan of the label that has put them out.

Blue Arrow Records is not only a brick and mortar staple in Cleveland thanks to their amazing selection of vinyl, music memorabilia, and other vintage goodies, but they are now a record label.

Makes complete sense to me.

I have been a fan of Blue Arrow since they first set up shop in 2009 and think the world of owners Pete and Debbie.  Not only do they run one of my favorite stores in my neck of the woods, but they are also quality humans.  I am lucky to know them and was floored when they told me they were going to start their own record label and first on the roster was none other than Jonathan Richman.

Jonathan Richman

I adore all things Richman.  Chances are if you are reading this, you might too.  If you do not, I highly encourage you to check out anything Modern Lovers or just jump into Richman’s solo material.  His style is unforgettable and almost always is in the most upbeat approach.  Richman always has seemed to put me in a good mood.

This month, Blue Arrow Records is releasing two 7-inch singles by Jonathan Richman including four songs: “O Sun”, Wait Wait”, “Keith” and “They Showed Me the Door to Bohemia”.  These are the first releases by Richman in five years.

I need to pause for a second and let you all know that I have been holding off on reviewing these 7-inches until I could literally just down and spin them endlessly next to me.  With luck on my side this past Friday, I was able to set up a listening station of sorts by my desktop with the full intention of listening to these releases and reviewing them.

Moving along…

The 7-inches are both beautifully pressed with “Keith”/”They Showed me the Road to Bohemia” in white (33rpm) and “O Sun”/”Wait Wait” in turquoise with light hints of red (45rpm).

“Keith” paid tribute to the one and only Keith Richards.  I loved the line Richman said regarding Keith’s style was “not exactly the blues cause it’s sorta European too.”  “The Showed me the Road to Bohemia” was a spoken word jam by Richman that was relaxed yet joyless.  Richmond can’t always be a ray of sunshine folks.  He is human after all.

“O Sun” carried a more vintage beachfront island sound that I really was not expecting but completely loved.  It was nothing too technical and quite repetitive, but mysterious like something you would hear in an old school James Bond movie soundtrack.  “Wait Wait” really reminded me of the young Richman post-Modern Lovers I had adored for so many years.  Plenty of clapping and good times were thrown in this jam with thanks to Juanramon Jimenez, a poet who Richman claimed “helped me express a feeling.”

I know I tend to tell everyone what I like and honestly, that is the whole premise of this little blog I have been holding onto for a while. If  can find just one person out there who has not heard of Richman yet and they turn into a fan, then my job is done.  I do this because I want to and there is no other reason.

Both 7-inches only have me excited even more for the full length that Blue Arrow Records aims to release this fall.  Until then, you can stop in the shop and pick up both copies or click on the album covers below to place your order today at Blue Arrow Records ($10 each + shipping):

O Sun 7-Inch Single  Keith 7-Inch Single


I find my posting of this appropriate with the statement that Pete released about Blue Arrow Records and their involvement with Record Store Day.  If you have not read it yet, please do.  It is a highly well-written discussion about his somber decision to not partake in perhaps the most popular retail event for independently owned record stores.

My thoughts about RSD are not as strong as they once were and I blame the greedy (the labels and the flippers).  Where I love to see people standing in line to buy limited pressed releases, I feel it has gone too far and has turned into just another way for big business to make their money as well as shady flippers who throw them up on eBay and make a killing (sometimes even before RSD).

There are too many releases to even count this year and honestly, there were only maybe two that I might have raised an eyebrow about.  What I am trying to get at was that I wasn’t excited about this year’s RSD offerings.  Hopefully not everyone agrees with me and still will be lining up at their favorite local shop next week.

There may not be new pressings coming out that I give a crap about, but there are stores like Blue Arrow Records with tons of old and previously loved releases that I will happily flip through with hopes of finding a gem.

Don’t dismiss RSD.  Remember it is about records, not just the new re-re-re-repressings on an 138 gram glitter-gold pressing with hologram download cards.  Go out and support your local record store and find something that you can call your own.

Album Review: Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield – Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith

ES_Cover_loWhat can be said about Elliott Smith that most people have not said already?  You either loved him or did not care for him.

Smith left his legacy suddenly years back in the worst way possible and his music has remained for the world to sulk upon when in need.

In 2003, Smith ended his life after suffering from depression for years.  I have no words for his choice on how he bowed out to the world nor will I even go into detail.

The 90s punk me was introduced to Smith’s self-titled album by some of my indie-loving friends years before “Needle In The Hay” was heard in The Royal Tenenbaums.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I never appreciated him until after his passing.  I remember liking what I heard, but apparently was too much in love with the SoCal punk scene.

The twenty-something-year-old-me back then was not impacted as much as present day me would have been.  I hate to admit it, but at the time I was not deprived of Smith’s talent when I learned of his passing.  Twelve years later, I have a different way of looking at his loss.

Next week, Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers and Kent, Ohio’s sweetheart Jessica Lea Mayfield will be dropping Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, a covers album full of, you guessed it, Elliott Smith songs.

The album, dropping on Ramseur Records, is not a reinvention of Smith’s work, but more of an appreciation for someone they both were fans of.

Produced by Avett and recorded over the last three years at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC as well as at Avett’s and Mayfield’s homes, the album features renditions of twelve Elliott Smith songs.

It was almost haunting to hear Mayfield start out “Between The Bars”.  This version sent chills throughout my body.  I loved how Avett joined Mayfield but did not dominate the song.

I really enjoyed the piano playing that built up throughout “Baby Britain” and feel Avett nailed it when trying to recreate.  It started off slower with acoustic playing but soon jumped into a more upbeat cover.  It kills me thaSeth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smitht this was a more popular song of Smith’s and was all about his addiction, but it really is a great song.  (Side note:  I enjoyed this cover way more than Bayside’s 2008 version)

“Ballad Of Big Nothing” was just as depressing as the original on Smith’s Either/Or.  Not that i was expecting anything different, but the impact that Mayfield’s voice with Avett provided a different dismal angle.

I would have loved to have heard Avett take lead on their version of “Roman Candle”.  The distorted guitars were awesome but I really wanted to hear a more close to the original version of the signing to this amazing track.  I was rather underwhelmed on this.

The original version of “Memory Lane” always reminded me of something the Beatles might have done.  Hearing Avett slow it down a bit with a stings section made me think of the Beatles even more.  This was a great version of the original.

The collaboration of Avett and Mayfield only made sense seeing how they have been pals for years now.   For them to cover Elliott Smith songs was nothing next to brilliant.  The best part is how they chose what material to cover and how they each took turns taking the lead.  They reached all over Smith’s catalog including some hits and more obscure tracks.

This is the part where I encourage those who never cared for Smith to take a listen and hear his brilliance in a different dynamic.  Love him or hate him, Smith was an incredible songwriter.  This covers album proved that so well.

The album drops on March 17th and you can preorder it now by heading over to The Avett Brothers merch site.

If you’re lucky, you can even catch them live throughout March:
March
10   McGlohon Theatre, Charlotte, NC
11   The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
12   Town Hall Theatre, New York, NY
14   Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA (Philadelphia)
17   James K. Polk Theatre/TPAC, Nashville, TN
18   Southern Theatre, Columbus, OH
20   Athenaeum Theatre, Chicago, IL
22   Fitzgerald Theatre, St. Paul, MN
24   Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO
26   Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
27   Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
29   Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
31   Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Side note:  This powerful scene with Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums is beyond horrifying even more so when you think about what happened just a couple years later…  I am glad Avett and Mayfield did not cover this track.

Darius Koski Solo Debut To Drop April 7th

Hey Swingin’ Utters fans,  Darius Koski is about to debut his solo album.  Before you start throwing down assumptions that the guy is going acoustic just to to make a quick buck, please see what he had to say about the whole solo route:

“I’ve been wanting to have an outlet for it for so long—for longer than I’ve been with the Swingin’ Utters, basically. And I just hadn’t done anything with it. I didn’t really know how I was going to release it, I hadn’t done much live, I have problems remembering lyrics… So I’ve been putting it off for so many years, but it’s finally coming together, and I’m thrilled about it. I’m totally going to go for it.”

Now that you’ve read that, how about you take a listen to one of this new songs:

You’re weren’t expecting that much twang were you?  I know I was not, but I will tell you this, I love it.

Dropping on April 7th, Sisu, is in a genre really of its own with a plethora (yes I said plethora) instrument playing including guitar, piano, banjo, accordion, violin, glockenspiel, vibraphone, melodica, ukulele, and percussion.  This is not just some solo album.  This is years of built up creativity by Koski finally being released property.

I know I am stoked to hear this.

Pre-orders are up at Fat Wreck as of today.  Hurry up and get you some.

Album Review: Tim Barry – Lost & Rootless

Tim Barry - Lost & RootlessIt’s no lie, Tim Barry just dropped one of my favorite albums of 2014.

After hearing it just one time through, I had no choice but to make an immediate edit to my best of 2014 post.  I was blown away.

Lost & Rootless, Barry’s fifth studio release as a solo artist, is the best thing I’ve heard from him to date.

The Richmond, VA folk crooner is one of the most talented music writers I consider myself a fan of and he just further proved that to me with his latest effort.  To say he is on top of his game is a complete understatement.

Barry, on his website, said the sound to his latest release could be described as “Wooden.”  He stated “that’s the feel that I was going for when I picked the songs. There’s violin, voice, a wooden resonator guitar…there’s a very subtle electric bass on one track, but otherwise I wanted to do a wooden record.”

“Wooden” is the perfect description when you think about it.

Hiding out in a backyard shed with his sister and pal Josh Small, Barry recorded Lost & Rootless with no time frame  and no worries at all. The result is a tireless release that I have listened to over and over and found myself enjoying more so than the last listen.

One thing I adore about Barry is his storytelling abilities.  In Lost & Rootless, Barry doesn’t hold back with his tales that do not necessary have a theme to them but certainly reach back to other stores of past albums.  There is no concept to be heard and to be honest, I think Barry and crew just recorded whatever was on their mind.

Starting the album off was “No News From North”.  This was actually taken from Barry’s Laurel Street Demos, but re-recorded just as he has done with other selections. I loved the rendition of this song from its original. It sounded so much more homely and emotional.

“Poppa’s Porch” had me thinking of Barry on his front porch with his wife and kids singing to them on a weekend morning. This song told a story about the neighborhood that surrounds said porch full of fisticuffs and shenanigans. This was overall such a friendly track to listen to. It was like Cheers, but different.

“All My Friends” painted such a beautiful picture of who Barry surrounds himself with. This was a very old-timey sounding story about people who took to the streets for entertainment and communication.

I can honestly say I know exactly what “Breathe Slow Let ‘Em Pass” was all about. My rebel youth recalled those days when the law passed me by and I turned into stone until they were far away only to release a tightly held in breath. This track was amazing based on the idea of it.

The cover of “Clay Pigeons” by the late and great Blaze Foley was just amazing to listen to. Having just learned about the Austin musician myself, I can understand why Barry chose to record his own version of the song.

The somber story told in “Solid Gone” reflected hard times with family and finances and the outlawed methods to make things manageable resulting in further calamity. I can not say I have heard a song quite like this before and found myself captivated throughout it. This is one track I think everyone needs to check out on this album.

“Lela Days” was clearly written for Barry’s daughter. I have the feeling she loves it when he sings this song to her. It is a fun folky jam with real life expectations hidden within.

I can not tell you the number of times that I thought to myself how much I enjoy Tim Barry’s music.  This is coming from a aging punk rocker who has matured just a bit but still has a lot of growing up to do.  It’s nice to see that I still get excited about things.

By now, it shouldn’t matter that Tim Barry once was in Avail.  Even though his former punk act will always be one of my favorites, it is perfectly clear why Barry has moved on and started something he can call his own.

It’s no wonder he has no plans of ever getting Avail back together, his new direction just makes so much sense and does not seem to be going off track.  He has been going strong for 10 years and I hope to hell he has no intention of slowing down.