LAGWAGON, $WINGING UTTER$, THIS LEGEND @ the Date Shed THIS FRIDAY, November 7th
$20 @ Presale / $25 @ Door * Doors Open at 8pm
By Lisa Morgan
Brandon Ray Henderson and the world famous Date Shed are bringing you a night begging to be called the best punk rock event of the year. Aggressive rock rhythms on warp drive, stripped down, raw, real and real loud instrumentation, coupled with vocal anthems that usher in the spirit of freedom from the antiquated, over processed, illegitimate, money gluttons of heartless corporate music and its mindless minions. These bands, these musicians – they know all about the changes in the character of music over the last two decades, and they plan on giving rock enthusiasts a strong shot of rock and roll authenticity that will purify your musical palate forever.
“Lagwagon has been one of my favorite bands for 18 years,” shared local promoter and musician, Brandon Ray Henderson. “I’ve booked Swingin’ Utters previously and they are super fun. I also go way back with the guys in This Legend. I couldn’t be happier with the lineup and I’m very grateful to the Date Shed team for helping me bring such a cool show to the Coachella Valley.”
Ben Harper hit international fame as the guitar player and co-founder of the pop-punk band, Yellowcard. His split from Yellowcard created a bit of controversy in 2006. But not as much as when co-founder and drummer, Longineu Parsons III (better known as “LP”) left the band in March of this year, only to reunite with Harper and form This Legend. Signing with Cyber Tracks, owned by NOFX guitarist, El Hefe and his wife Jen Abeyta, the reunited, best-friend, power duo, were introduced to prolific songwriter, singer, guitar player, Chris Castillo.
“When we started Yellowcard, we rallied around Ryan,” shared Harper. “In This Legend, we’re huge fans of Chris’ voice and writing. He’s so genuine in his music and his attitude. At 27, it’s the perfect time to get his songs out. He wrote the lyrics for our first album, and he still has a lot left in the tank. He is absolutely one of the best vocalists I’ve ever worked with. He nails it live. It’s ridiculous. We love having this powerhouse of consistency combined with this real, amazing person. We’re rallying behind a whole new front man, and loving it.”
Cutting his teeth on bands like Bad Form and Stanley and the Search, Castillo has a deep well of songs and experiences to write from. The sneak peek into the first This Legend album was the release of “Lyrics With My Pen”:
This hurts, but not as bad as you’d think it would
I honestly don’t know how much I could call you a friend right now
Someday you’ll see it my way, as I do right now
And I’ll never let this go
And then I hear the music in my head
Scribe these lyrics with my pen
You don’t know what this does for me
(It’s all I’ve got) It’s all I’ve got (I can’t give it up)
I can’t give up on you or me…
(Hear and read the lyrics in entirety at this link: http://youtu.be/G6GqDWssjkw)
At first listen, one might think this was a song about the breaking away of two founding members from a successful band….say like, Yellowcard. But apparently, Castillo can relate to the situation as the song was written from his own experience. “I was in between bands, and I was going to call it quits – go back to school and all. But I can’t stop hearing music in my head so I decided to keep playing music. “Lyrics With My Pen” means exactly what I’m saying. I can’t give up. I’ll be writing til I’m old.”
“It’s really cool, given the caliber of the musicians in this band,” Castillo continued, when asked what the experience has been like for him so far. “Everything just came to life so fast and so easily, especially on stage. When I’m not singing, and I turn around and see what’s going on, I feel like I’m in a dream state. These guys have all been friends for a long time. I’m the newbie, but we are meshing very well. There’s never a dull moment. With their fun and their high energy (especially Ben’s), there will be no touring issues whatsoever.”
Harper is as equally as enthusiastic about his new front man as he is his bass man-vocalist, Steven Neufeld. “Steven is front man for a band called ‘Hey Mike!’ which was on the label I started (Takeover Records) when I was with Yellowcard. Steven is one of the most talented guys I’ve ever met. He’s originally a guitar player, but was ready to go with bass. He was also ready to not have to front the band, but still be an integral part. Every single harmony part comes from him, and his bass playing is simply phenomenal. It’s absolutely ridiculous how well we get along and work together. And it all translates from the stage.”
I had caught the entire band together as they were driving through the Coachella Valley on their way to their next show. With all the excited, positive energy coming through, it was almost painful to ask about their current relationship with Yellowcard. Harper stumbled for a response, taking great pains to be honest, yet not negative. “Unfortunately, this hasn’t ever been in print, but I think we’re starting to open up a little more. I haven’t actually been in touch with any of the current members of Yellowcard. The only person since 2006 that’s kept in touch with me was LP. I don’t want to comment too much on it. I’ve been in touch with Pete Mosely who was out a year and a half after I was, and I talk to him. Since LP came out of the band in March, there hasn’t been any contact between him and the band either. We did get some interesting comments from their manager right when we announced that LP and I were back in a band together, but nothing from the band members themselves. LP and I did run into Ryan Mendez and Ryan Key – we were cordial. I think more information will come out in time, but no matter what, we do have respect for them and hope they do well.”
Getting the interview back on their contagiously positive track, Harper had no trouble in answering how This Legend will differ from Yellowcard. “Well, for one thing, we’re not kids anymore, so there’s more experience and influence. We wanted to be in a band that maybe continued what we wanted Yellowcard to be at the points where we departed; more of a going back to our roots for LP and I. This type of music really showcases LP as a drummer, and I think LP had a yearning to be more involved in the writing process. I know from interviews that I’ve read where Keys stated LP really wasn’t involved in the writing process, so I think this is the perfect thing for him. LP is a better drummer than he was ten years ago. People LOVE to watch him play. He is one of the best, if not the best, drummers out there. We wanted to give him a chance to put that on wax.”
“We love our team,” Harper continued. “The new label has been our saviors. El Jefe and Jen were right at LPs side when his departure from Yellowcard took place. And they were pivotal in introducing us to Chris. They brought the key piece of the puzzle to this. It’s more of a partnership, almost 50/50. Everything is family, right down to our press agent Jen from Catalyst. They are like our 7th and 8th band members. They were there for us before we even had a name.” In closing, Harper shared, “We’re watching this thing happen. We’re watching kids at the shows respond to our music. The energy is unreal. We’re getting a sense of ‘mission accomplished’. Still, we all know we have a long way to go, and we’re all ok with that.”
This Legend has their debut album release scheduled for November 11th, but it will be available for purchase at the Date Shed show on November 7th. This will be the second show of their tour with Lagwagon and Swinging Utters. The effervescently grateful Harper said, “We can’t thank Lagwagon enough for this opportunity.”
Veterans of the Bay Area music scene, The Swingin’ Utters have met their wives and best friends and established their value system as well as their music on the streets of Santa Rosa and San Francisco. The fact that the band took a break to raise their families and grapple with day jobs at the height of their popularity, says a lot about them. Their music reflects such integrity and depth, but don’t let that suggest they can’t drive it right into your soul in true punk rock fashion. Their 1995 debut album, The Streets of San Francisco considered a “streetpunk” masterpiece, got Fat Mike of Fat Wreck Chords to sign them, due to its authentic grit and stark honesty. From there they put out several highly regarded records: A Juvenile Product of the Working Class, Five Lessons Learned, Brazen Head, Swingin’ Utters and Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones. For 10 years the Utters toured relentlessly with the likes of Rancid, NOFX, Dropkick Murphy’s and everyone in between. Now, the band in their 25th year, have finished their second album in three years with no signs of slowing down. The music has a folksy, Celtic, lyrical underbelly that at times sounds a bit like Uncle Tupelo on warp drive. It’s depth, sent sailing through ruckus, rebellious rhythms and guitar that plays well with the others, makes for brilliant music, which from record to record, is wildly unpredictable yet true to its punk roots.
The current lineup features Johnny “Peebucks” Bonnel (vocals), Darius Koski (guitars, vocals, accordion), Miles Peck (bass), Greg McEntee (drums, percussion), and Jack Dalrymple (guitar, vocals). Over the past few years, the band has toured all over the world with bands like Flogging Molly, Drop Kick Murphy’s and Frank Turner. According to front man, Johnny, it has definitely impacted their music and their character. “Just being able to see the world is going to open up your mind to a lot of different things. We’re inspired through the place we see, the people we meet and the different music we hear. I feel it makes me more rounded.” I asked Johnny if he felt the genre was more well received overseas. “It seems to be a little more sought after. There’s more punk rock looking kids in the audiences and the reception makes for some better shows.”
As a musician who has been a firsthand witness to the drastic changes in the music industry, I asked him what he thought was key to their success in growing their fan base and getting their music heard. In a cyber, social media world, his answer was old school simple: “Touring as much as we can. It’s hard for anyone to tour. It’s not really a living, but it will definitely make you a better person. That’s our main level of communication. We get out there as much as possible so we don’t get forgotten. And we make sure we thank everybody.”
Fistful of Hollow is their latest record set to be released November 11th, but will be available at this show. The title song is one of Johnny’s favorite songs, says Johnny. “It ranks up there with ‘From The Observatory,’ ‘My Glass House,’ ‘Teenage Genocide’ and ‘Beached Sailor.’ He continues to influence me in my song-writing and grumpy drunkenness.”
Follow Swingin’ Utters @ swinginutters.com
Lagwagon was a band who, in pure punk rock fashion, turned its nose up at major labels and the pursuit of the more commercial avenues that bands such as Green Day, Rancid and Offspring were taking. As flagship artists, they rewarded the loyalty of their independent label, Fat Wreck Chords, with their own. In and out of the scene since 1990, they have had 10 releases, and have grown a huge underground following that spans throughout Europe, North America and Asia, all with the same label. Lagwagon is Joey Cape, Chris Flippin, Joe Raposo, Chris Rest and Dave Raun.
The newest album, Hung, Lagwagon’s first studio album in 9 years, and the first album with bassist Joe Raposo, was released just over a week ago, October 28th. “It’s very hard to be objective about the record,” shared front man, guitarist and vocalist, Joey Cape. “I know we worked really hard and it took a while to write the record. There’s always one person in the band that’ll shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Meh’. In this case, everybody in the band loves this record. It’s an unusual and great feeling. They want to play every one of the new songs live, and we’re really pumped up on it. We must have done something right. There are several different styles included in this record, including a lot of metal. I think it’s solid, and I’m really happy with it.”
Lagwagon, based out of Goleta, California, just outside of Santa Barbara, released Putting Music in Its Place, remastered versions of Duh, Trashed, Hoss, Double Plaidinum, and Let’s Talk About Feelings, as well as a Live DVD and extra b-sides and alternate song versions. Choosing this as an alternative to a “Greatest Hits” album, Cape explains, “It literally represents Lagwagon at every point in time, in chronological order. I spent three years working on that, digging through old stuff. It’s a funny thing…I actually learned so much that I had forgotten. I know so much more about my band than I actually wanted to,” he laughed. “It’s strange to research yourself or your band – it’s kind of like what happens when people research their genealogy through one of those websites. Some bands or musicians write books. I sort of get it, I guess. But we do music. The music tells our story.”
Over the years, the music industry has changed drastically, as Lagwagon has had a front seat to it all. Cape calls it “The biggest metamorphosis that’s happened in my entire music career.” He continued, “Bands at our level that shied away from being too commercial, weren’t as affected as quickly. We didn’t make a lot of videos, and we didn’t do a lot of radio. It had a different effect on us – it happened slower, whereas it hit the mainstream pretty fast. It was actually sort of nice to watch to be honest. Not to be spiteful, but whenever large corporations are being hit by the people, I kind of think it’s an ok thing,” he chuckled. “It affected bands that used to lean on record sales to support a tour. Now they have to do 180 shows to pay for the next record. We’re one of the lucky ones who can still survive on touring. For up and coming musicians, it’s a bit different. The benefit is that it’s easier to get your music produced and out there. The issue is that there is so much of it out there. It’s absolutely over-saturated. It’s hard to find what’s special in the middle of so much. In the early days, there was a lot more loyalty between labels and artists. We have a label that’s been loyal to us from the beginning. We’re very fortunate. We were the flagship band for Fat Wreck Chords when they first started and we’re still with them now. I think the answer to the issue might just be a matter of smart independent people (artists and labels) getting together to make things happen.”
I asked Cape how he felt about the term “pop-punk” as they are often described by the media. “It bothers me. I’m 48 in a week. Punk was geography and an era for me. Mine was the early 80s. Punk may be something else to a kid in Omaha, Nebraska in the 90s. I think my band has plenty of pop-sensibility – I was groomed by the Beatles and good pop songwriting. There’s even some mainstream music I hear that makes me say, ‘I wish I’d written that’. I don’t have prejudicial issues like that. The only thing is, my band is so much METAL, and no one ever says that about us! We put out Hang, and one review called us “pop-punk-friendly band, Lagwagon.” I’m like, ‘Hey dude, if you actually listen to our songs and really look at our record, a lot of our songs are about death, disloyalty and really dark subject matters, and it’s full of super hard core metal.’ Long story short, it’s just a label, but it makes me think they haven’t really listened to my band as well as other people have.”
Called ‘visionaries’ by many, I asked Cape what the vision for Lagwagon looks like. “The future of Lagwagon…. the most important thing that anyone can do when you play music, is to continue to make music that you love and do what you want to do. Stay true to that cause it’s not going to ring with any kind of integrity if you don’t. That’s what we’ve always done, with life and with music. It’s one of the reasons it takes us so long to make records. We don’t want to release anything that we’re not proud of, and we don’t want to make music if we don’t feel like we’re ready. So I guess the vision for the future of Lagwagon, is make a new record sooner than 9 years, because….I’m not getting any younger,” he laughed. Then he added in all seriousness, “And stay inspired.”
Follow Lagwagon @ lagwagon.com
All three of these incredible bands will perform this Friday night at the Date Shed in Indio. The Date Shed is a top notch concert venue located at 50-725 Monroe Street in Indio, between Avenue 50 and 51. You can reach them at (760) 775-6699. Advance tickets can be purchased for $20, through their website dateshedmusic.com or via ticketfly.com. Tickets will also be on sale at the door the day of the event for $25 while they last. The Date Shed offers a full bar and $2 tacos on their fantastic back patio.