To celebrate the release of Acoustic Volume 2, I was able to chat with Joey Cape and Tony Sly about the record and their future plans. Cape was in Europe so his portion was done by email, but I was able to catch Sly on the phone:
What was your main inspiration for releasing another compilation with each other eight years later?
Sly: We've been on tour together a lot, we've played together a lot. We never really talked about it, but it was pretty obvious. We've got a ton of songs and we've done 3 hour sets together at times where we do a lot of Lagwagon and No Use songs. When we got back from tour, we figured we should do a follow-up to the 2004 record, especially since we actually tour together and we can tour on it in the future.
Cape: Tony and I have toured together many times over the past 5 years throughout the world. It's been a lot of fun. We have both learned each others songs and ended up playing together for entire sets. Another split was something we discussed from time to time. It just made sense. We had planned to collaborate more on this split than the 2004 split. For various reasons it didn't happen. Tony sang and played guitar on one song, "Owen Meany." It didn't make the record because it wasn't different enough from the original in my opinion.
I’ve noticed you selected five songs from five different releases. How long did it take you narrow it down? How did you decide which songs to record?
Sly: It didn't take me that long because I posted on my official Facebook and I just asked fans what songs they wanted to hear. I took the most votes and did it that way. It was really cool actually. People are going to be stoked because they're going to get to hear the songs that they requested.
Cape: Well, I have recorded so many acoustic versions of Lagwagon songs. So the list was narrowed for me. Haha. Probably a good thing. I generally record the songs that I play live. It's fun and effortless because I know them so well. I wanted to do songs from different periods of Lagwagon in hopes it would add some diversity to the basic production value I am limited to recording in my basement. Haha. Hopefully it helped.
Tony, were you surprised by any of the choices?
Sly: I was surprised by how many requests there were for "Black Box." It's off of Keep Them Confused and I think that's one of our worst records. But it's a good song, it came out pretty good, the acoustic version of it. It was interesting figuring out how to do it. Almost all the songs, they're ones I don't really play live. It was kind of hard rearranging all of those songs to the point where I actually liked it.
For sure. "Soulmate" is the exception I'd say, I think I saw you play it when you opened for NOFX.
Sly: Yeah, there were requests for it, not as many, but I wanted to do that one for sure. I have so many unrecorded acoustic songs, while Joey has pretty much done the whole Lagwagon catalogue at some point, all the popular songs.
I've heard that song hundreds of times and I noticed you changed "punk ass" to "asshole." Any reason for the slight lyric change?
Sly: Yeah, it was always asshole when I wrote the song. A radio guy came in and said that they were going to bleep that word out so I just went back into the studio and asked him what I should use. He said punk ass so I was like alright and I sang it. Sort of a sucker move, but whatever. I finally got to do it the original way, which was kind of cool.
Joey, which track was the hardest to strip down and why?
Cape: The out-take actually. "Owen Meany." The issue with some songs is a similar dynamic out come to the full band version. To me, if the song doesn't receive a new image, it's not worth the effort and "Owen" was already fairly broken down in the original. It's a bit sad because Tony Sly, Jon Snodgrass and Brian Wahlstrom (Scorpios) all played on the recording. I will release it at some point. Maybe Fat or someone can stream it later as an a bonus track.
Which song is your personal favourite? Why?
Cape: "I Must Be Hateful". I always considered this song to be one of my better songwriting efforts, but I also always felt like the full band version fell short on the emotion of the song. That happens sometimes. It's no one's fault. It's just that sometimes, the band doesn't collectively nail it. I really like "Hateful" as an acoustic track. I think it really works
Do the two of you have any touring plans confirmed?
Cape: Yes. In late July. To start with, a run from Quebec down U.S. East Coast. Should be fun. I think we will inevitably do more. It's always a matter of tour schedules.
And Tony, by the time people read this you'll be in Canada doing some shows with No Use For a Name.
Sly: Yeah, it's going to be really interesting because Chris is with Lagwagon right now so we got the guitar player from Pour Habit filling in. He's really good and he learned all the songs, but we haven't been together to practice, we're just going for it. During the first show in London, I hope we get a long sound check. I’m excited though.
Is the solo stuff still your main focus for now?
Sly: No Use For a Name is sort of the focus right now, the solo stuff is more on the backburner. I just put out a record recently and then this split with Joey, I'll be doing some touring with Joey of course, but still. I have these guys in the band waiting for me to write a record and that's what I want to do, write a new No Use record and put it out. That way we can get that machine going again so we can start touring everywhere eventually.
How close are you to hitting the studio?
Sly: We had time. I booked time for this month, but six months ago I put pressure on myself and I got a herniated disc in my back. It's been ruining my life, I've been in and out of doctors and therapists and I'm still not done. It's awful. Playing on stage can be a nightmare, but if you take a painkiller and a couple drinks it's alright. I have a big cushion on my guitar strap. It's not going to stop me, but I'm trying to take it easy too. It sucks, it kind of depends on me, but I'll get it done. I have tons of ideas and I can't wait to record a new album for sure.