Since Lagwagon’s earliest days, which started modestly enough back in 1989, they’ve never played by anyone else’s rules. Lagwagon makes records when they have something to say, and they tour when the mood strikes them, never because they feel like they have to. “It’s a standard thing for our band to be in-between releases,” says vocalist Joey Cape, “If the fire’s not lit, it just doesn’t happen.”
During their nearly three decades together, Lagwagon has gone on short breaks here and there, but they’ve never fully stopped, even if the rest of the world thought they had. There were some long stretches between albums, like the nine-year gap separating 2005’s Resolve and 2014’s Hang, but the band always stayed busy. In fact, all the side-projects and short breaks the members worked on during those spells ended up making Lagwagon even stronger. “I think it’s good for the longevity of your band for people to have another purpose,” says Cape. “Like anything else, any project that you’re working on, and any art especially, when you take time away from it, you remember what it is you appreciate and you get a different perspective.”
Over the course of their eight studio albums, as well as a handful of EPs, Lagwagon established themselves as a band that never compromised their vision, allowing them to create a sound that’s always been theirs. Anchored by Cape’s lyrics, which often manifest as a kind of introspective intellectualism, his bandmates make music that mirror his intentions. The dual guitar harmonies of Chris Flippin and Chris Rest are triumphantly melodic, but they retain a bitter bite even at their most melodic. And the rhythm section, with the lighting fast drum fills of Dave Raun, and the manic energy of Joe Raposo, the band’s bassist and relative newcomer, ensures that Lagwagon’s power can’t be faked or imitated.
Their unflinching commitment, and unbridled energy, has never faded, and remains clearly present in their live shows to this very day. This is why, no matter how much time passes, the Lagwagon discography remains timeless. And with a handful of shows this Fall that will see the band play all of their classic fifth album, 1998’s Let’s Talk About Feelings, in full, they’re out there proving just how peerless they remain. “When you play an album from start to finish, it’s a little bit of a time machine thing,” says Cape, “Because, in this day and age of digital and streaming, the album has become challenged in terms of that continuity and the conceptual element of it.”
But for fans that are chomping at the bit for a new Lagwagon record, they may not have to wait too much longer. “I have a lot of material, and the other guys have a lot of material,” says Cape, “But it’s about what sounds like a Lagwagon song. Not because it’s about, ‘This sounds like us,’ it’s about, ‘I think the band would sound great doing this.’” That approach, which sees them avoid trying to fit in a certain box, and instead trust their process, is what makes each new release so exciting. The members of Lagwagon commit fully to whatever sound strikes them, allowing them to fully stick landings when others would stumble.
When asked how they’re able to pull that off time and again, Cape pulls back the veil on Lagwagon’s winning formula. “The answer to that is very simple,” he says. “If everyone’s happy in the room, then something’s right.” It’s for this reason—and so many others—that Lagwagon’s fire will never, ever be extinguished.