In what can only be seen as an effort to bring punk rock back to the dingy clubs and sweaty halls, Fat Wreck Chords has been releasing a string of live albums amusingly entitled Live In A Dive. The latest band to receive this honour, pop-punk heroes Lagwagon, who beam proudly as theirs – quite possibly the strongest so far aside from Sick Of It All ‘s – garners rave reviews.
“I like the Swingin’ Utters ‘ Live In A Dive,” counters guitarist Chris Rest. “I think theirs – well, live albums in general – are cool because you can hear the songs without all the studio magic. I also like hearing stage banter. But live albums aren’t the quick one-off people think they are. There are a lot of problems trying to get them right. Tuning problems, mistakes, drum mikes get hit or fall down. It’s tedious work.”
But it’s all in the name of punk rock, or as Rest admits, it’s because “[label owner Fat] Mike said he’d break our limbs if we didn’t do one.”
Rest also understands that a few fans may suspect that a live album series is a cash grab.
“I’m a music fan too, so I can see where people might think that live albums are filler,” he says. “It’s hard to argue with that since lately our full-lengths tend to come out about once every five years. But I think we’ve tried to make this worthwhile on a lot of levels.”
Clocking in at a stunning 22 songs – just about enough for even the most diehard of Lagwagon fans and coupled with videos and a full-colour cartoon booklet featuring the band in a compromising state, it’s hard to argue. This is a pretty full deal.
“Well, we tried to cram as much on there as we could,” Rest says with a shrug. “We were just trying to make the whole package worth buying since so many people just end up downloading CDs nowadays. Hopefully the music will keep people listening. If not that, maybe our stupid jokes or perhaps the ‘Coconut Song’ will.”