“That’s my favorite tour story and I never tell it. I never felt comfortable telling it really until recently. So I’m really glad that we’re coming back there. I’ve got lots of good stories about Pensacola because we basically lived there for a couple of days after that.
I was excited that this interview was with someone in Pensacola because one of my favorite memories from Lagwagon touring happened in Pensacola; we actually broke up onstage at a gig at Sluggo’s. “
– Joey Cape of Lagwagon
I don’t know how long Joey Cape had been keeping it in.
I don’t know when he made peace with it all, but Cape talked about the band’s onstage fight at Sluggo’s, his drummer’s addiction, and the days he spent in Pensacola while Derrick Plourde was in detox.
Earl’s Killer Squirrel frontman Earl Lyon witnessed the fight and also gave his account for my Pensacola News Journal “Music Matters” column “Lagwagon back in town that nearly spelled its end” before the show at Vinyl Music Hall.
The full interviews with Cape and Lyon follow bellow.
Joey Cape Interview
MS: With all of the touring with Lagwagon, your solo work, and new band, what’s the most exciting thing for you?
JC: It’s always been just the creative side of things. I much prefer working on new music and the recording process. That’s always, for me, been the most rewarding part of the gig.
MS: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?
JC: (Silence) Well, it’s a funny thing you bring that up, actually because I was excited that this interview was with someone in Pensacola because one of my favorite memories from Lagwagon touring happened in Pensacola; we actually broke up onstage at a gig at Sluggo’s.
JC: Back in 95. It was insane. It was just insane. It makes that Billy Joe thing-freaking out on TV or whatever, that Radiofest-makes that look totally weak. (Laughs) The only difference is back when we did it, there weren’t smart phones and the internet wasn’t in everybody’s hands. I’ve wished forever and ever that somebody got it on film because I would love to see it but no one did. Because, when you really think about it, it’s funny.
Basically what it was, was that, the drummer that toured with the band was really…he was having a real hard time…he was a drug addict. He was getting worse and worse on tour and we were…the tension in the band, in other places as well, was getting heavier and heavier and everybody’s come to terms with this stuff now, we’re all at peace with it. There were many, many good years after that when Derrick (Plourde) was fine and we’re all friends, so I’m not saying anything that’s going to cause anybody grief, but it was bad. Derrick was a mess, he couldn’t stay awake on the stage. People in the band…we hated each other. (Laughs). I’ll never forget, we’re onstage at Sluggo’s and our drummer just nodded out and then Shawn Dewey our rhythm guitar player, he started yelling at somebody in the audience for running into the microphone and hurting his face, he was bleeding or something. And I start yelling at him, I start saying, “Well, I don’t care what he says. We don’t agree with him.” to the audience and then we started into it and then our other guitar player-you got to remember, these guys are giants. Like Shawn Dewey is like 6’7” and Chris Flippin, other guitar player, who came to my rescue there and they started fighting, he’s 6’9”, almost 6’`10”, he’s 6’9 and three quarters, so the two of them start fighting, and they’re fist-fighting onstage.
Our stage-tech guy pulls the kick drum out from in front of Derrick onto the ground and Derrick falls in the middle of the stage and starts kicking him and calling him an f’n you know what like, “You’re ruining this band.” (Laughs) I know it’s not funny at all, but it was so…it was so surreal when I look back on it now. And Jesse (Buglione) bass player, he’s kind of standing there cross-legged with a cigarette smoking really awkwardly, looking at me and I looked at him and I just kind of made this face like “Oh, well!” because that’s it! And Jesse nods to the right and I look over and there’s this crowd; like a full Sluggo’s room of kids with their mouths going “Oh my god. What am I watching?”
That’s my favorite tour story and I never tell it. I never felt comfortable telling it really until recently. So I’m really glad that we’re coming back there. I’ve got lots of good stories about Pensacola because we basically lived there for a couple of days after that. Me, Brian and Steve was our stage guy, our one roadie; we had one roadie back in those days and so he’s part of our team. He and I stayed there while Derrick went to a detox facility in Pensacola. We got to know the locals pretty good. It’s a cool town. I haven’t been there in many years, so I don’t know.
MS: Did you go to the beach when you were here?
JC: I don’t remember going to the beach in Pensacola, Florida. I remember going out every night, late, going to clubs and hanging out with a couple people that we knew a little bit. I kinda knew that guy Gus (Brandt), who ended up working with the Foo Fighters. You know, it was like weird. It was more like a David Lynch movie back in 95’ to me being an unlocal. It was like this guy that had a cab that wasn’t a cab and he called it Ramen Cab and you gave him Top Ramen, he would drive you anywhere. I don’t know if you ever heard of that. And…uh…yes, so we would just stock up on top ramen and give it to the ramen cab guy and he’d drive us around to these bars and hang out with the local punk kids. It was just super fun. We were having a great time while our buddy was trying to…you know, it was for the better of course. I remember going to the beach in Florida towns on the east coast on the other side.
MS: Glad you guys are coming back to Pensacola. Just you saying Sluggo’s, I remember those memories of old shows back then.
JC: The other thing was the Nite Owl.
MS: Oh,the Nite Owl. That closed down back in 2000 something. I saw my first show there in the late 80’s. That was an awesome club too. The Handlebar is still around in Pensacola.
JC: Oh yeah! I remember that place. Cool. Yeah. I’m sure we’ll go out. We’re not a band that shies away from hanging out after the shows (Laughs). We pretty much go out every night and-to our detriment, I’m sure. We like to have a good time. I’m going out in Pensacola for sure. Provided that I’m not sick, you know what I mean. Which is the only thing that keeps me from going out is if I get sick. I don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s great. I’m looking forward to seeing you, It’s been a long time. Like I said, we spent a few days there so I kind of feel like I got to know the place a bit. It was so long ago.
MS: The box set came out last year, what Lagwagon songs get you off the most when you’re playing them live?
JC: It’s cool because we’re playing songs from the first five records. There are some songs in the set that we really haven’t played much since the early, early days and those are ones. They feel new and they feel refreshed and sometimes that effects the other songs in the set that are old as well that we have been playing for years because when everything is in the same setting that old feeling that the band had, that vibe, somehow it kind of elevates everything to a little bit higher intensity. I can’t really figure it out, but I know some of those songs…well, if you…there’s a song called “Lazy” that’s a song on our second record, and we didn’t play that song for so many years and I think that was mostly my fault…it’s a really hard and high song to sing, super intense; kind of a voice killer, but I think that I finally got my shit together. I’ve finally gotten strong enough now to do those songs, so that’s really cool. Just anytime you’re doing something you haven’t done in a long time, it feels fresh and good.
MS: What would Joey of today tell a younger Joey just starting out?
JC: I would say, “Remember that band that you had that sounded kind of like Nirvana before Nirvana existed? Maybe you should’ve rolled with those dudes.” (Laughs) That’s only for my daughter’s sake. Yeah, I don’t know. I’m pretty happy with the way we’ve done things. We’ve been pretty true to ourselves and self-indulgent the whole way. I don’t know that we’ve ever really made any decisions that weren’t serving our immediate needs. That sounds weird, but that’s the way to do it. When people start planning and calculating for success and those kinds of things, you can make a lot of bad decisions in music and in general in the business of music. And we’ve stuck with the same label the whole time; we didn’t really promote ourselves in a way that put us into a different perspective to those that like the band. I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of advice. Maybe drink less.
MS: As far as advice, since you mentioned it; what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
JC: Oh, boy. It’s usually me giving the great advice out here (Laughs). Boy, that’s a really tough question. I mean, I’ve been given lots of great advice by people. I don’t even remember who, but somebody must have told me sooner or later, somewhere along the line really early on, that the best thing to do is to “Just be yourself when you play shows.” Because-and maybe I just figured this out, but I’m sure somebody said it to me somewhere along the line as well. This is good advice, “If you can figure out a way to do something that embodies entertaining people and completely maintain your own personality without creating any kind of alter-ego or…there’s a way to do it where you just literally walk around being the same person you are offstage, you can have a much better run and a much better time and it’s never going to get weird.
MS: This is a crazy one; do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?
JC: Oh man, that’s a really tough one…well it depends. I mean, you know, my initial reaction was crunchy because it’s more exciting (Laughs)…but, I mean, I would say…I’m going to go with creamy because-first of all, creamy is just an awesome word. For some reason, all I can think of right now is peanut butter on celery and I think that smooth is better on the celery.
MS: That’s true. You’re making me hungry Joey.
JC: You’re making me hungry, man. I haven’t eaten yet today. I got to get a peanut butter sandwich somewhere.
MS: You guys are in New England tonight, where?
JC: We’re in Massachusetts…we’re playing Boston tomorrow night and we’re just in a parking lot somewhere in Massachusetts with the day off. Literally in a dirt, parking lot parked nowhere near anything. It’s not going to be a very fun day, but the Smoking Popes are playing in Boston tonight and the word is we can get a shower from a hotel nearby the airport, then we can take the Blue Line downtown to Cambridge and we can see the Smoking Popes. We’re probably going to stay in the bus and watch the Chappelle Show. (laughs)
MS: This is my last question for you. Is there anything else you’d like to add for the fans coming out to Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola?
JC: I hope they show up. It’s been a long time. I don’t know what that means; I don’t know if we have any. I hope there’s a lot of them. I don’t know what night of the week it is, but I would always say the same thing, man, “Just come on out and have a good time with us cause’ we’re fun.” Introduce yourself when you get a chance.
Earl Lyon (Earl’s Killer Squirrel) Interview
MS: What do you remember? First of all, why were you there?
EL: I worked there at Sluggo’s back in…the one on Palafox and Intendencia; the three story one and one night, Lagwagon’s playing, everything’s going fine and in the middle of the show, they cut the set short because, obviously, some people were out of it and couldn’t perform. And the next thing you know, people are leaving and they had a big fistfight between the two guitarists.
MS: Did you see the fistfight?
EL: I was in the dressing room cleaning up while they were fighting right there on the side.
MS: Where you shocked or did you see it coming?
EL: I wasn’t really shocked, but for seeing Lagwagon for, that was like my fourth of fifth time seeing them and they seemed tight and you didn’t think anything like that would happen, but obviously, there was a breaking point, you know.
MS: Hell yeah. Is there anything you want to add? Are you going to the show next week?
EL: Oh yeah. I’m going. I love Lagwagon. They replaced those two members, the drummer and the guitarist after that and moved along and kind of really got kind of-I wouldn’t say emo-, but he really started thinking out his music when Lagwagon got back together and started their fourth album “Double Plaidinum”. It was really thought out after that. You could tell that everything that happened that night affected him.
– Michael L. Smith