Unlike the last few LAGWAGON albums, ‘RAILER’ was written in an incredibly condensed period of time, in an attempt to capture the spirit of the band’s early days. And it worked. While songs like “Stealing Light,” “Dangerous Animal” and “Dark Matter” bristle with a raw, ragged and pure energy that’s unusual for any band to have after almost 30 years of existence, these tracks also directly harken back to the band’s early days.
“There’s only so much one person or a group of people can do before they start to develop characteristics that become common to them,” says Cape in typically philosophical fashion,“and I think you have to be comfortable with that. And I am. I like my band and what we’ve done and I’m okay with the fact that we have our strengths and we have our limitations. I know what it is that we do well and if we stay true to that, there’s something that comes out of that that is truly original, because you’re being true to who you really are.”
At the same time ‘RAILER’, produced by Cameron Webb (Alkaline Trio, Motörhead), accurately and honestly reflects who LAGWAGON are in 2019, both lyrically and musically. While it sounds like these songs could have been written by a band 20 years younger, ‘RAILER’, as a collection, presents itself as youthful but jaded, frantic but exhausted, visceral yet cerebral.
The idea of struggling to get by alongside an overwhelming sense of existential chaos and angst is a common thread throughout ‘RAILER’, in the bouncy desperation of “Jini,” the Bertrand Russell-inspired “The Suffering,” the breakneck despair of “Parable” and even in the carefree nostalgia of “Bubble” and its unflinching celebration of the band’s early days of “beer for pay” and the “roach-ridden pads” they used to crash at. Life has moved on in the three decades sinceLAGWAGON started, but it’s not something the band – guitarists Chris Rest and Chris Flippin, drummer Dave Raun and bassist Joe Raposo – have entirely left behind either.
Additionally, Cape doesn’t necessarily expect people to extract his specific philosophies from each of these songs, but they’re certainly present for the listener to seek out if they want to. At the same time, just as with Lagwagon’s earliest songs, ‘RAILER’s’ songs are there to be listened to and enjoyed, to take you back to simpler times. It’s no coincidence, then, that ‘RAILER’ ends with a frantic punk rock cover of Journey’s “Faithfully.” Back in their earlier days, LAGWAGON’salbums often used to include cover songs, but the band hasn’t recorded one for a long time, until now. And, with this record, the band has come full-circle and rediscovered the purest version of who they’ve always been as a band. Not that that feeling was ever really lost in the first place, of course.
“I wouldn’t say ‘lost’,” confirms Cape, “but you evolve. Evolution is a journey within yourself. You go on this journey and it takes you wherever it takes you, there are multiple people along the way that you meet who have different ideas than you and as you grow, you get into different things along the way. I don’t know if you ever completely lose the sense of where you came from, but you definitely evolve away from it over time. But the thing is, it’s always there.”
1. Stealing Light / 2. Surviving California
3. Jini / 4. Parable
5. Dangerous Animal / 6. Bubble
7. The Suffering / 8. Dark Matter
9. Fan Fiction / 10. Pray For Them
11. Auf Wiedersehen