Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two minutes in the box... with The Briggs

If you've been to Staples Center this season or watched the Kings on Fox Sports West you can't escape the song This is LA.  It's been all over the place, almost like the unofficial anthem of the team.

The catchy tune was written by a local LA band - The Briggs.

Fans attending the game at Staples Center last night were treated to a live performance of This is LA before the game started.  Then, because the Kings were able to defeat the Canucks...The Briggs gave an encore performance as people left the arena.

They're scheduled to play again tomorrow night for game four.  But, first - lead singer, Joey LaRocca, joined the Mayor for a quick visit...where they talk hockey (of course!), playing in Europe, tattoos, Bad Religion, the Warped Tour and Drew Doughty. 

MM:  So let's start with the chicken or the egg question - were you guys hockey fans before you wrote the song...or are you becoming hockey fans now that the Kings have embraced the song?

JL:  I'd say it's a little bit of both.  With the amount of touring we do it's hard to keep up with sports.  But, with the Kings using our song definitely has stoked some fires within us and we follow more closely now.

Now, you've probably answered this a thousand times in interviews...but, for Kings fans just now finding out about the band, give them a little background...how was the band put together.  By you and your brother, right?

Right, we started the band about 8 years ago.  We're from LA.  We started playing small clubs here in town, then started touring around the U.S.  We ended up getting signed, doing a couple records and then eventually ended up going over to Europe and playing there...so...then, with our last record I decided to write a song that was an ode to our hometown.  So, it all kinda worked out (he laughs).

Writing a song about your home town is pretty punk rock, right ---- X wrote "Los Angeles" back in the hey day...more recently the Distillers had "City of Angeles"....were either of those songs part of the inspiration behind your song?

I have a special place for songs that celebrate a city and a place.  I like how they give off a vibe and a warmth - if that's a place that's true to you.  While it wasn't maybe those two songs for me, I'd say 'Fairytale in New York' by the Pogues is probably a better example of a song that's inspirational to me.  I know it's not a 'Los Angeles' song, but the idea of having a song that is nostalgic about a place that you have been or are from even.  That song strikes a cord with me.

With your solo stuff you go by the name Joey Briggs, even though that isn't your real last name...and in the video for This is LA there is a Briggs Plaza.  Is that where the name actually comes from or is that just a coincidence?
Actually, it's a street near where I live.  So, that's kinda where it came from.  It's not in conjunction with street pride or anything (he laughs, realizing it probably sounds very gangster to name your band after your hood).  We were in a pinch looking for a name, so we were just driving down the street one day turning things we saw into bands names...we were like 'The Street Lamps'...and 'The Street Signs'...then 'The Briggs'.
I thought that sounded kinda cool and it just ended up working.  It seemed to fit the band actually.  It had sort of a nautical theme, being the jail on a naval boat or things like that.  So it had a cool, rugged connotation I guess. It just ended up working for us.
Well 'The Briggs' is a much better name than 'The Street Lamps' so you guys made the right call...
Yeah, we definitely scored there - not going with 'The Rolled Up Hose' was a good move.
This is LA was actually first released back in the summer of 2008.  As an artist, is it weird for a song to be getting so much attention this long after its release?  You guys are already working on material for the next album, so is it awkward at all?

It is strange, but it's also kinda relieving in a way though. You hope to make stuff that can find a way to stand up over time and be interesting to people.  Music has such a short shelf life these days.  Bands have to turn out albums so quickly these days because people are losing interest so quickly.  So, it's nice that late in the game with this particular song and record - it's cool that it continues to grow and is probably more popular now than it was when it was first released.

You guys have played the Warped Tour quite a few times.  That's one of the biggest tours of the summer every year.  As a fan going to Warped it can be daunting sometimes with all the bands there and the 5 or 6 stages.  How do you cut through all the clutter when you're there and try to grab people's attention?

It's really tough.  It takes a lot of work.  That's one thing that we try to pride ourselves in..as a band, we've never half-assed things.  We always want to be in people's faces and doing things.  We'd spend time in the merch tent talking to and signing things for our fans.  We'd do little acoustic sets in various tents there, just doing whatever we could do to engage people.  It's really easy to get lost in that whole mix and if you don't put much effort into it or you don't really care, it's not going to pan out so well for you. 

It is very daunting, you're right.  I still go to Warped, as a fan, when we're not playing. It's exhausting and overwhelming.  There's noise everywhere and you don't know where to go...and I'm a veteran of the tour.  So, I can't even imagine what it's like for some 15 year old kid who shows up and starts thinking 'What do I do? I don't know where to go. What's going on here?'

I've seen you guys live a few times - including at one of my favorite venues, the Divebar in Vegas.  Bands always have such good stories from being out on the road....do you have a few tales you could share with us?

I'll say this, there have been a few of those times where you really need a pick-me-up.  We had one of those moments on our last tour of Europe. Our drummer had a family emergency and he had to fly home.  We had to train up a replacement drummer within two days, just to continue on with the tour.  It was a really rough situation because we were in such a bind.  We had a band that was touring with us and their drummer agreed to do the shows for us.  He wasn't very familiar with our material at all, so basically he had to learn 26 songs in 48 hours...and we had to pull favors from people to find a rehearsal space.

This was last summer when we had all kinds of fires back in California, specifically in La Crescenta - where I live.  So, all I'm seeing in the headlines of Yahoo! news online was 'La Crescenta Fires, People Being Evacuated'.  My wife was back home pregnant at the time, so it was a very stressful week. 

We were in Italy at the time and had a day off before our next show in France.  We just wanted to go the beach and have a mental rest.  One of the life guards at the beach looked over at us and said 'Aren't you guys the Briggs?'  We told him we were and he said 'I saw you guys a couple of days ago in Milan.'  It was strange because we weren't anywhere near Milan and there just happened to be this life guard who knew who we were.  He said 'If you guys want, I can call some friends over and we can have a BBQ.'  You get those offers from time to time being in a band.  However, sometimes it doesn't live up to the ideas people have of what it's going to be.  Sometimes you just end up sitting around staring at other people and it can be awkward.

It ended up being an incredible time.  They did a big BBQ right on the beach after the beach had closed.  They cooked up a fish.  We had great bread, beer, wine...all sorts of stuff.  We grabbed a couple of paddle boats that they usually rent out...we were rolling around out in the water at night.  It was one of those amazing experiences, one of those things that not a lot of people get to have.  We've been very fortunate to have certain experiences in our lives - just as people, not even as a band. 

It was a pick-me-up like you wouldn't believe.  We were so bummed out and this gave us new reason to keep going.

You guys have played with Bad Religion a few times.  We interviewed Greg Hetson at the start of the season - he's a huge Kings fan and has been for a long, long time.  Have you guys ever had a chance to sit down and talk hockey with him?

I haven't really had a chance to do that yet.  But, I know he is a big fan and I see him at the games occasionally.  When you're touring with other bands that is one of the great things, getting to hear the stories and experiences of people like Greg.

On that Bad Religion tour we did have another pretty awesome experience though, sort of tying things back to that last question.  We were with Bad Religion in New Jersey and Bruce Springsteen's son is a punk fan.  He came to the show with his son and came back stage afterwards.  We all met him and then he stuck around and told some stories about touring back in the day on a Greyhound bus...using public transportation to get from gig to gig.  That was pretty crazy to hear those stories.

You made reference earlier to still going and watching other bands perform.  What's the best live show you've ever seen and what made it so great?

That's a tough question.  I guess I'd say one of the shows that really stands out...and it's weird because I've seen them so many times and we've toured with them...it would be a Dropkick Murphys show in London at an Academy.  Just the venue itself and the atmosphere that was created at that particular show was so over the top and amazing.  It embraced everything that a show like that should be.

Yeah, the venue can make such a difference when you see a band sometimes...

Exactly.  And that reminds me of another show actually.  In 2008 we played the Reading Festival in England.  The headliner was Rage Against the Machine and that was insane.  Again, it had to do with the atmosphere.  The energy, the excitement because they hadn't played together in so long.  It was so cool, quite a sight to see.

I see that you guys have a few local shows coming up around SoCal and then in July you're playing with The Dickies and The Adicts - two legendary punk bands.  I would imagine you guys are pretty stoked for that show?

Absolutely.  We've actually played with both of those bands in the past.  But, it's going to be a lot of fun.  It might be sensory overload for some people to have all those bands in one place on the same day.

You guys have more than a few tattoos - anybody in the band get a Kings tattoo yet?

No, no Kings tattoos.  I have a giant "LA" tattoo that's about a foot tall, on the side of my ribs.  But, not anything that is Kings specific.  That's a very good idea though.  I think I might have to do that soon.

Yeah, you need to get that crown ink'd on there pretty soon.

That would be pretty rad.

Do you have a favorite player on the team right now?

Drew Doughty is pretty amazing.  I was a little thrown off last night though.  At first I thought people were booing him when they showed him on the big screen a few times.  Then I realized they were saying 'DRRREEEEWWWW'.  It threw me off for a second.

Final question - or maybe it's a suggestion...you guys will be back inside Staples for the Kings game tomorrow night...any chance you can talk them into letting you guys play every time the Kings score too?

I don't know.  Logistically I think they have some protocols they have to operate within, with the television people and stuff.  I like where they have us placed though...it's pretty cool to play right before the game starts, to get everybody pumped up...then when they win, as soon as the horn blows, we're on playing the song.  There is good energy at those moments...

Definitely I think it would be great if we could play when they score too, to really drive it home.  But, I won't complain.  How we're doing it now, I'm more than happy with how it's going.

Joey, thanks for the interview and I hope we get to hear you twice tomorrow night too.


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The Briggs ladies and gentleman.  Please exit the building to your left.

On your way out, click here to see video footage of last night's performance from section 308.

The Mayor


Interview w/ Greg Hetson - legendary punk rocker from Bad Religion and the Circle Jerks

10 Tidbits on Drew Doughty

Tuesday Tidbits - highlighting some of the most popular interviews on MayorsManor



  1. Great questions. I think that is a great idea Mayor. They should play the song after every goal. What other hockey team or sports team have a band that plays before and after games. Playoff hockey at Staples is a great experience.

  2. The song sucks. Lyrics that a 5-year-old could write.