Lagwagon’s Joey Cape is ‘not great at writing happy songs’

By Sarah Mac
Joey Cape returns with his third solo album Stitch Puppy.

Joey Cape returns with his third solo album Stitch Puppy.

CALGARY — Joey Cape, Lagwagon front man and legend in the punk rock scene, is returning to the stage. This time it’s with his brand new solo album, Stitch Puppy.

Stitch Puppy is Cape’s third solo album; it’s his first in nearly five years and it was released on September 3rd under Fat Wreck Chords. The album cover may seem creepy with its portrayal of a green skinned man in a suit standing amidst the forest with his eyes crossed out, but the music within is humbling and comforting.

The story of the title and the concept of Stitch Puppy is actually quite beautiful. The album is named after a Victorian mourning doll; affectionately handmade for Cape by his young daughter and proudly displayed in his arms on the back cover of the album. She made the doll for him in the wake of several deaths in the punk scene, a topic that similarly affected Lagwagon’s 2014 release Hang.

“The mourning doll was something that children, adults or anyone really, would make when they lost someone. It was part of the grieving process in the Victorian era. It was a way to mourn and a way to heal. Stitch Puppy was made for me by my daughter about three or four years ago. It’s my favourite possession, and I got the idea that it would be the title and also the theme of this album,” Cape explains.

“I think what the name, Stitch Puppy, represents, and also what my daughter had in mind with the doll is; when you get older, in some ways with all the things that have happened to you, loss, disloyalty and these kind of things, and also dealing with age, your health diminishes. So it’s like the doll is being held together by stitches, and those stitches are the other things in life; like love, loyalty and family. They are what hold you all together, they make you stronger. And that’s the concept, that’s the way I see it. I always write about how things affect me, usually on the darker side of my life. It was just always the way I knew how to connect to the truth,” he continues.

“I’m not great at writing happy songs.”

He laughs.

Although the album is being released via Fat Wreck Chords, Cape’s own label, One Week Records, had a heavy hand on how the album was recorded and produced. One Week Records releases albums with the simple concept of writing and recording acoustic albums in seven days. There is no over production, just the music and the artist.

“The recording process was like how we record on One Week Records, there’s not really any time to over think things and there’s very little editing. I spent a little more time on Stitch Puppy, but I did use the same set up. There is some sacrifice with that though. You can’t make things perfect; you have to deal with the imperfections. And that’s when you can hear who they really are, what they sound like, through those imperfections. And that’s what I want to hear.”

The resulting sound is a soothing continuation of his previous solo albums. It’s sometimes jaunty, sometime emotional acoustic songs with Cape’s scratchy, soulful voice singing lamentations and celebrations alike, told from the perspective of a punk rocker going on 50 who’s experienced far more than most.

Catch Joey Cape and his One Week friends in Vancouver on September 17th at The Cobalt, in Edmonton on September 19th at The Buckingham, in Calgary on September 19th at Nite Owl on September 20th at Broken City and in Winnipeg on September 22nd at the West End Cultural Centre.

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