"I must admit that in the past I've been frustrated with the perception that our band is this 'silly' band."
"There's a bit of a misconception about Lagwagon, that we somehow disappeared and then came back," muses frontman Joey Cape after being asked about the gap between 2005's Resolve and its follow-up 2014's Hang. "We've always been at it with only short hiatuses. This band has never stopped or quit at any time, we've always been working even when we haven't been putting out a lot of records."
Indeed, this will be Lagwagon's second jaunt to Australia this year after an appearance at the 2015 edition of the Soundwave festival. But according to Cape, the band prefer smaller venues and headlining shows.
"To be honest... the Soundwave thing, I guess these big festivals in general aren't really for us. We prefer playing inside a venue and we like to play at night. I'm not a huge fan of having to sing in the early afternoon. You also have to play much shorter sets than usual and I think we found that because we were playing so early that a lot of people who may have wanted to see us missed us. Of course you're up against a range of different bands as well — but you know those are the things you accept when you play festivals.
"I guess you could say that Lagwagon takes its art seriously but we're also careful not to take ourselves too seriously."
"The intention was always to come back for our own tour," adds Cape, who reveals that the band have been practicing material from older records like Trashed and Hoss. "This time around we'll have the time to play a full 22-song set and because we've been re-learning the older material we have a huge pool of songs to chose from. It's funny because Lagwagon fans aren't heavily weighted towards one particular album, so we have to be careful to mix things up."
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Lagwagon have long been perceived as a happy-go-lucky proposition whose lyrics veer towards the irreverent and sophomoric. However, on closer inspection the band has always been quick to tackle raw human emotions and, on early classics like Island Of Shame, society's rampant homophobia.
"I must admit that in the past I've been frustrated with the perception that our band is this 'silly' band. In fact often I look at the lyrics I've written and I think 'Damn they're really negative, or really cynical.' I think the misconceptions perhaps come from some of the album covers we've done which poke fun at ourselves and the fact that we really try and have fun when we play live shows. When you go through our catalogue there's perhaps ten songs all up which are frivolous or silly but overall we tackle things of substance. I guess you could say that Lagwagon takes its art seriously but we're also careful not to take ourselves too seriously."
One of Cape's most enduring observations was made on Know It All, where he took on 'underground music' elitists. "Things have definitely changed since then," offers Cape. "The media landscape has really changed and college radio doesn't have the same power anymore. But what really bothered me then, and still does, are people who think music should follow strict rules, especially those who think you have to do certain things to be 'punk rock'. I don't need rules— music transcends rules and for one I can hear when the heart is there."