Posted on February 11, 2010 - by Editor
Joey Cape and Tony Sly are two names synonymous with modern punk rock, frontmen for leading Californian pop punk bands Lagwagon and No Use For A Name respectively. With each having accumulated over two decades worth of credibility and a burgeoning fan base around the globe, they are about to head off on their first European tour together to showcase their solo material. The six week stint accompanied by Jon Snodgrass will be Tony’s first in support of his pending “12 Song Program” while Joey will head back to Europe after visiting in 2009 with some new material in tow. We caught up with the pair as they were rehearsing new and each other’s material in practise for the upcoming tour.
Steve: So I hear that you guys have been practising in preparation for the tour, so how has that been going?
Joey: It’s great you know, speaking for myself. And playing Tony’s songs and I love his songs, it’s cool and we have known each other for a long time so it’s great to be able to play each other’s material. It’s kind of one of those relationships where one person is in love with the other one and the one doesn’t care either way.
Steve: Just like most bad marriages then?
Joey: (laughing) Yeah just like a bad marriage. No its really cool and playing with him is great cos I think we come from the same thing, and we are both kinda old now so its kinda easier playing one of his songs.
Steve: We are close to the time you hit Europe, have you had a chance to play a show together before you come over?
Joey: Yes, I had a show in San Francisco and Tony came along and played as a little surprise and he is playing just before we head off to Europe so I will be the surprise and play with him. It will be good to try out the songs.
Steve: Sure and there must be some songs you would want to play together and I gather it’s going to be the same as the last time you were in Europe; you are going to mix things up and have a rotation of musicians and order of people playing on the night?
Joey: Yeah that’s right.
Steve: And Jon Snodgrass will be joining you again, so how much fun do you think you will have trekking around Europe together?
Joey: Oh my God it’s going to be a blast. And a friend of mine from New York, Brian he is a piano player, a great player and he is coming along. We all love him too. Tony just met him and also the road manager is awesome, really fun. Yeah maybe a little too much fun and there are no days off so I’m going to come back in pretty terrible shape, but I’m looking forward to straining my liver again. It’s gonna be a blast.
Steve: Especially coming over from California and into of one of the coldest winters in Europe for some time!
Joey: Yeah I heard that and I’m really hoping that erratic weather will somehow change things by the time we get there, and a heat wave or early spring or something happens. Last time was a little bit later; closer to spring, but I have a big jacket. (Laughing)
Steve: Or wear a beer coat.
Joey: Haha yeah well that’s the great thing about the shows, they gonna be warm and cosy and indoors.
Steve: Exactly. So all the shows you are playing, are they all going to be bar type environments/settings?
Joey: Hopefully. That’s our preference; the shows don’t quite work the same in big venues and if there is no bar! We are trying to create a party atmosphere and you can have a giggle and without alcohol in a small room it’s more difficult to build that atmosphere, so small bars would be perfect. I’m 43 years old and I’m not so worried about young people not getting into the shows anymore (laughing).
Steve: I know last time you played you said that you weren’t used to playing a show without heckling. So you will need to encourage that and the drinking from the crowd.
Joey: (laughing) Exactly! Well people mustn’t think they must be quiet and be on their best behaviour. It’s a bit more inhibited and that happens a lot to bring people out of their shells and interact and have a good time. It’s great and if you do your job right, you have a great time and they have a great time, and that’s why I love it.
Steve: Definitely. While you travel around on tour in Europe, and I asked this of Jon (Snodgrass) –but Mike Park likes to “train” around. What’s your mode of transportation?
Joey: Well last tour we had a small van and a driver and you need to carry the merch and that’s great and that’s what we are doing this time. We did some trains and public transportation and that is also great and I wouldn’t mind doing a tour like that and there is a strange sense of freedom not having a vehicle at all. With catching trains and public transport you obviously get more of an experience that way, but it’s difficult with merch. But Mike is a maniac.
Steve: Haha. Ok and you and Tony both have new records out.
Joey: Yeah it’s a bit more romantic and we can have more of a show with the new material
Steve: How nervous are you playing your solo stuff to a European crowd or any other crowd?
Joey: Well I hardly played my new solo stuff. When I started playing acoustic shows at least half would be my own stuff and of course you have to promote it but I learned early on most people want to hear old songs and stuff from Lagwagon and Bad Astronaut. And I wasn’t at first comfortable with it but it wasn’t a big secret that I wrote almost all those songs and they were my own songs and originated as acoustic songs anyway and there is very little difference I suppose me playing them without my band or not? And there is also that strange thing that happened with my first solo record where I gave a copy to my band and we ended up recording a bunch of those songs so whether they are Lagwagon songs or not it’s all the same to
me as long as people have a good time. But I will try playing a couple new ones, probably three?
Steve: And how do you think Tony feels about it? It’s the first time he is doing his solo stuff in Europe.
Joey: I’m sure he will say the same thing; we have definitely talked about it a little bit. It’s a funny thing.
Steve: But like you say it’s more about having a good time.
Joey: Yeah and if you have a good time they (crowd) generally have a good time and if you play quote unquote “hits”, you know what I mean, we don’t really have hits with radio time but I spose we do have hits in a way and songs that people love.
Steve: I remember people last time shouting requests at the show.
Joey: Oh man sometimes as I’m waking on stage before I have even said anything, people start screaming songs at me. And there are certain songs, like most I’m “ah cool I will play that” and “great we will get there”, but there are certain songs people scream out frequently that I really don’t like (laughing). So I block those out. So if for example, if I walk out and within the first minute I’m onstage and people shout “Beer Goggles” I really despise the song and I can’t imagine how I would play that song on acoustic anyways! So it can be annoying but it’s kind of flattering.
Steve: Cool well that’s good for now Joey; we will see you in London in March!
Joey: Yeah we should be pretty good by then!
Steve: Yeah we should see the finished product.
Joey: Yeah or you will see the leftover waste, depends on how hard time we roll. (Laughing)
Steve: That’s right, with Germany scheduled before the UK that beer will knock you over.
Joey: Yeah the Germans will knock us out. Nah we will be fine I promise.
(Joey hands phone over to Tony)
Steve: Hi Tony, how are ya doing?
Tony: Hi, yeah good thanks.
Steve: So some similar things to what I asked Joey; how you feeling about coming to Europe and playing your solo stuff for the first time?
Tony: Yeah it will be the first time for me, Ya know I’m a little nervous but I’m more excited than nervous at this point because I have been practising and so I’m feeling confident. It’s going to be good though, I’m playing some Lagwgaon tracks and Joey is playing some No Use For A Name songs. So it’s going to be cool for people to see I guess.
Steve: The cycle with artists interchanging is going to mean a relaxed atmosphere from everyone’s point of view too?
Tony: Yeah and the set never stops which is good. I actually went and saw Joey and Jon do this a few months ago in San Francisco and it was more the kind of show I would go to cos I could hear people talking. Like even if you went to the bar, but you could also go back to the music , ya know. You can have a drink and the music was constant and it was all songs I was familiar with and it was great and a great environment. It wasn’t a sweaty punk show with everybody fighting to get a drink, it was just relaxed and people singing along and you could be rowdy but not like a punk rock show.
Steve: When Joey and Jon did that last year, there were people half heckling and requesting songs so is that a part of the night you going to be ok with?
Tony: Yeah I will be fine, the only thing will be different is that you won’t have other members in a band to help you out, but I’ve been doing this long enough. I’m looking at it like with a punk show, like with No Use… We can’t take more than a minute between songs its go-go-go and it’s a workout. But with this you can hear people say something funny, and they are there to hear your songs and have a good time, and that’s just the game. The joke for me is the one guy in the audience who wants you to play that one song and no-one else wants to hear it cos you are playing all these songs that other people want to hear, so to me it seems like one difficult person so it’s easy to handle I guess.
Steve: So living in the same part of the world as Joey, you are getting some practise time, how well do you know Jon Snodgrass and Joey mentioned you have just met the pianist Brian.
Tony: I met Brian a couple weeks ago, and I have known Joey and Jon a long time. I mean Joey with Lagwagon and me with No Use, we have been going for a while and it’s not like we hang out all the time but we have toured together. Jon I know him more from Armchair Martian and he lives in Fort Collins and I hung out with him a lot when we recorded the last No Use record (with Bill Stevenson) and they are all cool guys to hang out with so it will be cool for me.
Steve: And you mentioned on email you are being offered lots of tours and saying yes to everything?
Tony: (chuckles) Yeah I do that with No Use too and say yes to everything, well not everything but this is my job, playing music is my job. I don’t do anything else. Recently I realised, well there is no plan B, my plan B is music. I do say yes to everything, and there are tours and internationals stuff and agreed booking agents and people I trust, and it’s easier if it’s just the one person. With the band, with the guys and there a couple guys, will have a million things on and a million questions like “how long are we going to be there?” and “how much is this costing?” and this solo thing is new to me so I’m treating it like a new artist so you can’t turn things down.
Steve: And spending time with three or four other people for such a length of time (6-7 weeks) and it not being No Use, how odd is that?
Tony: Yeah I guess, well I dunno its gonna be different. I don’t know if it will be strange but it will be different. I know Joey and Jon better and they are cool and when I’m on tour with No Use, we all know each other really well. So much so that you know people’s likes and dislikes and I don’t know what to expect and I’m excited about that.
Steve: So by the time we see you in London in March you will have learned each other’s pet hates?
Tony: Haha, yeah you know by the time you see us, we might not all be there in London and I might hate these guys (I said that loud enough for Joey to hear).
Steve: That could be an awkward interview with you all sitting in opposites corners in the room!
(We both laugh) Anyways thanks for your time and I look forward to seeing you in March.
Tony: No problem, I look forward to coming back to London it’s been a few years!
For our Tony Sly competition and all confirmed dates click here
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