Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lagwagon: A Cult Tribute

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Ah yes; the sound of punk rock is in the air here. Why? Because it's Saturday, May 16th. The worldly significance of that? Absolutely nothing; in the grand scheme of things, it's probably less important than the round of Jet Set Radio I'm going to play later tonight. To punk rockers however, today is what we like to call Lagwagon day, named in honor of the excellent punk rock jam you hear playing right now. So with that said (and because I am in a massive, massive rush), let's not waste time and get into the thick of it. This right here, on Lagwagon day, is a Cult Tribute to California skate punk legends and one of my favorite bands, the one, the only, Lagwagon.

Lagwagon: A Cult Tribute

What You Already Know

Lagwagon is a punk rock band. That's pretty much it. What do you want from me, an explanation as to why more people don't listen to the beautiful genre of music known as punk? I wish I could give you one. Instead, all I can give you is a gif of people moshing to show you what you're missing.

What You Didn't Know

Lagwagon has been around for over twenty five years now, formed by Joey Cape, Chris Flippin (great punk rocker name), Shawn Dewey, Jesse Buligone and Derrick Plourde in Goleta, California. In true punk fashion, the name of the band comes from what Cape (the band's singer) called his mom's station wagon growing up, as well as the name for the group's tour bus. Yup, they named themselves after the tour bus. Awesome. Said tour bus can actually be seen on the back of Lagwagon's second album Trashed, released in 1994 and considered to be one of their best works to date.

Speaking of said works, Lagwagon has released a ton of material. Since signing with Fat Mike of NOFX's Fat Wreck Chords label almost immediately after forming, the band has had over ten releases, including ten albums, 4 EP's (one, a split with band Jughead's Revenge, was released on the Hard Records label, Lagwagon's only non Fat Wreck release), one box set, a live album and a compilation album. Mother of puss bucket, that is a ton of releases. The best part; all of them are good and most of them are great, particularly Duh (1st album), Trashed, Hoss (3rd album) and Let's Talk About Feelings (5th album). None of the releases garnered Lagwagon the same sort of mainstream success other California bands like The Offspring, Green Day, Rancid and Bad Religion received in the punk boom of the mid 90's, but so what? Punk rock isn't about success, it's about naming your awesome band after the van your mom used to drive. Plus, it appears Lagwagon didn't entirely want the fame, having turned down major record labels on a couple of occasions. How much do you think Bad Religion wishes they can go back and do that? Sorry Bad Religion, I love you. Don't hate me.

Unfortunately, Lagwagon's workload has lessened over the years, with only three releases from them since 2005. The likely reasons; Cape's commitment as bassist to the hilarious mega punk cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (check them out after you're done checking out Lagwagon stuff), lineup changes (Cape and Flippin remain the only original members, though there's been less roster turn over than most punk groups go through) and the death of former drummer Plourde, who sadly committed suicide back in 2005 (he had left the group in 1996, but remained close with the group). After releasing the underrated Resolve (a tribute to Plourde), the band went on hiatus, briefly returning in 2008 with the EP I Think My Older Brother Used to Listen to Lagwagon, before disappearing again. Thankfully, it appears the hiatus has come to an end, as Lagwagon released their first full length album since 2005 last year, Hang.  And yes punk fans, it's just as good as you hoped it would be. Were you expecting anything less than greatness?

Best Song

Seeing as it's May 16th and "May 16" is my favorite song by Lagwagon, it seems fitting that it would be the choice here. And yet, I already used it to open the column, and we don't like to do predictability here. So my choice for this slot is going to be "Days of New", the closing track on Lagwagon's second to last released album Resolve. As I stated earlier, Resolve was a tribute to former member Plourde, and "Days of New" is dripping with his memory. It's got that great Lagwagon rhythm you love so much, the fast pace, the great rifts and a whole lot of raw, heartfelt emotion. Obviously I think you should check out every Lagwagon tune (why else would I be writing this), but this is a must. Other than May 16, it's legit my favorite song by these guys.


Dare I say that Lagwagon are punk rock legends? I think so. Just look at the body of work. They've gone twenty five years strong, remaining with one label the entire time and minimal lineup turnover. Every record they have released has ranged from good to great quality wise. Any other musical group, and we'd be bowing down to these dudes the same way corporate America bows down to every pop star with a hit these days. Thus, I am indeed going with legendary status with Lagwagon. Perhaps not on the level as the great Bad Religion, but it's not as far as you think. So if you're browsing your local comic/music shop in search for some awesome music to skate, mosh or even just jam to, Lagwagon is your group. The perfect band to listen to on just another Saturday.

That's it guys. Hope you enjoyed. I'm out till later. Till then, I got nothing. Just take it home DUCHOVNY!

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