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Punk rock has it’s fair share of punk rock heroes,one of the biggest of which is none other than the legendary Joey Cape of the equally legendary Lagwagon. He’s about to set off once again on a solo tour, bringing his acoustic guitar to small venues all across North America. Joining him on the tour is Walt Hamburger, Laura Mardon, and fellow Fat Wreck Chords label mate, KJ Jansen of Calgary’s Chixdiggit!.
Before the tour, Joey and KJ figured it would be a good time to get to know one another and took turns in the interviewer chair.
First we have Joey Cape interviewing the illustrious KJ Jansen.
Joey: Do “Chix” really “Dig” you, your band members and your music?
KJ Jansen: If I were to guess I’d say we’re “dug” about as much as your wagon lags. But if by “Chix” you mean “dudes who want to talk guitar gear” then I feel that we are probably the biggest band in the world.
Joey: What inspired you to join the troops of wandering souls by picking up an acoustic guitar and playing solo shows?
KJ Jansen: Initially I just wanted to do it because it scared the shit out of me to get up there all by myself and travel by myself and all that. It’s still new for me – I’m only about ten or so shows in – but I can tell already that I love it just as much as playing in a band. It’s just different. It’s also opened me up to music that I never gave a chance to, mostly singer/songwritery stuff.
Joey Cape: Are you excited to join Joey Cape on his current tour?
KJ Jansen: I can’t wait. Looks like some good shows in some good towns. I’ve caught the tour the last couple times through Calgary and I’ve always felt like I needed to be up there too. I’ve also been able to hang out a bit with you guys so I know that the hangout time will be great. I am, though, nervous that because I’m the new guy on the tour I’ll have to do all the shit jobs. You know, check the oil and carry all the heavy guitars and stuff.
Joey Cape: Have you heard any of the One Week Records recording artist that will accompany Joey and you?
KJ Jansen: Right now I only own the physical copy of Brian Wahlstrom’s, which I love, but I do have the digital versions of Walt and Laura. They’re all great. I like that the quality of all the stuff you’ve put out so far has been top notch. I’m looking forward to hearing them live.
Joey Cape: Any plans to make a solo acoustic record?
KJ Jansen: Yeah! I’ve always kinda thought that one day I’d do it. I’m in the middle of finishing up a Chixdiggit record right now and for that one we went in with about forty songs or so to choose from. Outside of those forty I had a bunch more songs and half ones too that I’ve been putting aside over the last little while. These are ones that I thought would work better stripped down more. Not Chixdiggit throwaways just songs that would be better with just an acoustic guitar. I’m feeling that the time to record them is fast approaching.
Wanting to flip control, the Chixdiggit front man turns the tables and quizzes his tour mate.
KJ Jansen: I just noticed the great first video from your new solo album. I also noticed that the last time I saw you that you had shaved your head. Is there a relationship between these two things that I noticed?
Joey Cape: Yes, Haha. I shaved my head for a video. It was for a song called “This Life Is Strange”. The character’s name is “Stitch Puppy”. He is based on the doll by the same name that my wife and daughter made me a few years ago. A sort of Mourning doll. I love the little guy and had this idea to write lyrics loosely inspired by him. He has a thought provoking appearance. He seems to be alone, almost abandoned. He has stitched himself together and after years of physical and mental lessons he is held together by literal and figurative stitches. He is the wiser for it. It’s easy to identify with this. I see him as more of a guide than a victim. Life is full of disappointment, disloyalties and abandonment. We develop issues and thicker skin or strength. I decided to dress as him for the album cover. I wore a bald cap for the photos on the album cover but when filming the video the cap was visible so I needed to shave my head. As it turns out, I like the feeling of being bald. Haha. I have decided to keep it for a while.
KJ Jansen: Do you ever get lonely on stage playing alone with just a guitar?
Joey Cape: Yeah. But I often try to find another guitar in the audience or at a pub after the show and have a meaningless strum. It’s a temporary fix.
KJ Jansen: Give me an idea of what a regular day in Joey Cape’s life is like – a day without playing, writing, recording music or shaving your head. If such a day exists.
Joey Cape: It’s rare. Nothing exceptional happens. I check email, stare at phone, drink tea or coffee, have breakfast with my daughter, maybe watch an episode of “The Twilight Zone” with her. I usually poop at some point. That’s the best part. Then, I make a juice with my juicer. Some days I go to the gym. Other days I run errands. Regardless, It’s boring but I love it
KJ Jansen: Over the years I’ve learned many things from you. One thing is a phenomenon called “the punisher”. There’s still lots of people out there who don’t know what one is. What is a “punisher” and what’s your best experience with one?
Joey Cape: A punisher can be anyone who is persistently in your face. Mostly it is an appropriate term for people that know no boundaries. It stems from backstage crashers at gigs. Sometimes I am a punisher when I drink too much whiskey. My wife can be a punisher when she drinks too much coffee. You get the picture.
KJ Jansen: You do a lot of touring yet you still look healthy and fit. You must have some sort of regime that you follow. Can you give us an idea of what your tour diet is like? What foods do you avoid? Exercises?
Well, I love food but, I am not a fan of sugar or fast food. So I basically eat well by default. I try to stay away from pizza after shows. That’s nearly impossible. On tour I don’t actually eat as much because I sleep late and there is less available late at night. I usually balance it out with a steady diet of whiskey but I quit drinking recently so I may just disappear all together. I am already small. See you soon… if you can spot me.
KJ Jansen photo by Christine Lortie, Joey Cape photo by Joe Leonard.