My Greg Salem punk rock PI series revolves around a fictional SoCal band called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, but the music and musicians that inspired these books are very real.
The playlist includes songs from the 70s to the 2000s, ranging from Black Flag, The Runaways, Lagwagon and Minutemen to The Gun Club, Pennywise, The Bags and Face To Face. There are thousands of other songs I could have included, but 30 seems right for now.
I’m loosely defining SoCal as the region between San Diego and Santa Barbara. Likewise, the definition of “punk” is also pretty loose because it’s one of those words that means something different to everybody.
So…save your aggression for the pit, bro. As Descendents would say—Enjoy!
I recently spoke with two punk singers about their favorite authors and books. If you like punk rock and reading as much as I do, you’ll definitely dig what Joey Cape (Lagwagon) and Jim Lindberg (Pennywise) have to say. These two episodes were part of a podcast mini-series called “Books on the Bus.”
This is a new blog series. The point is to post some of my favorite songs and briefly look at the lyrics through the lens of short fiction.
Lagwagon has been a hugely influential band on the West Coast punk scene for almost three decades. “Violins” is probably one of the best known songs from their 1995 Fat Wreck Chords album Hoss. The album version is a high-energy onslaught, but there’s a plaintive quality to Joey Cape’s vocals that highlight the complicated feelings he’s singing about. The strength of those lyrics was further underscored in the beachy version of “Violins” that Cape recorded with Tony Sly for the Acoustic album in 2004.
“Violins” starts off with the narrator proclaiming himself “another fool” as he spins an angry tale of heartbreak and infatuation. He and his ex are worlds apart, but he can’t stop thinking about her even as he gets drunk and sleeps around. Through it all, he calls out to the object of his obsession and tries to win her back while falling into the same old self-destructive patterns. It’s a painfully familiar tale that should ring true for anybody who’s ever fallen in love—as The Buzzcocks once snarled—with somebody they shouldn’t have fallen in love with.
Read the full lyrics for Lagwagon’s “Violins” right HERE.
Check out my podcast conversation with Joey Cape about rock and reading:
Rock and reading have long been two of my biggest obsessions, but I’ve discovered a third in the last few years—podcasts. A combination of all those influences led me to create Books on the Bus, a five-part podcast mini-series about the intersection of rock and reading.
Each episode features a musician sharing about their favorite books and authors, how books inspire their lyrics, the best rock biographies, and what they like to read on the road. I originally posted them over the course of a week in January, but have collected all five episodes here. Enjoy.
Is Books on the Bus a rock podcast about literature, or a literary podcast about rock? You decide!
Today I’m chatting with Joey Cape, lead singer of the California punk band Lagwagon. He also plays guitar for Me First & The Gimme Gimmes and is a prolific solo artist and producer.
This episode features the origin stories for the Lagwagon songs “Owen Meany” and “Lullaby,” in addition to creative ways to promote reading live on stage, giving up on non-fiction 3/4 of the way through a book, and Cormac McCarthy—among many other topics.
Here’s Books on the Bus, episode 2:
Find out more about Joey CapeHERE. Find out more about LagwagonHERE.
I launched the first episode of the Books on the Bus podcast mini-series yesterday with Jeff Whalen of the rock group Tsar (click here if you missed it). I’ll be posting a new episode every day this week (January 29 to February 2) over on the Rare Bird Radio podcast platform. Wednesday’s guest is Todd Pasternack of Ominous Seapods, Marlow and Bump, and author of LESSONS FROM THE ROAD: MUSICIANS AS BUSINESS LEADERS.
Rock and reading have long been two of my biggest obsessions, but I have discovered a third in the last few years—podcasts. Radio shows like Somewhere Out There with Joe Frank, This American Life, and Radiolab were my gateway drugs. Once in the podcast universe, I quickly expanded to WTF with Marc Maron, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Cracked, Re:sound, Freakonomics, and Snap Judgement. Lately, I’ve been digging Desert Oracle Radio, Kurt Vonneguys, and The Hilarious World of Depression.
It was a discussion about our favorite podcasts that compelled Eric Beetner and me to create the monthly crime and mystery podcast, Writer Types. And now my podcast fascination has led me to a new solo project that I’m calling Books on the Bus—a five-part podcast mini-series about the intersection of rock and reading. Each episode features a musician sharing about their favorite books and authors, how books inspire their lyrics, the best rock biographies, and what they like to read on the road—in addition to some unexpected tangents. A new episode will be posted daily between January 29 and Friday, February 2 over on the Rare Bird Radio podcast platform.
To say that this project brings together all of my favorite things would be a huge understatement. My guests include:
Jan. 29: Jeff Whalen—Tsar
Jan. 30: Joey Cape—Lagwagon, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
Jan. 31: Todd Pasternack—Ominous Seapods, author of LESSONS FROM THE ROAD: MUSICIANS AS BUSINESS LEADER
Feb. 1: Marko DeSantis—Sugarcult, Bad Astronaut
Feb. 2: Jim Lindberg—Pennywise, author of PUNK ROCK DAD