"Whether I'm right, or whether I'm wrong ... time it goes by, life it goes on."
Langhorne was kind enough to give us some time before his recent show at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass.
I read several interviews and the common knowledge seems to be consistent. Langhorne Slim's real name is Sean Scolnick. He was born in Langhorne, Pennsylvania and attended SUNY Purchase University in NY for his conservatory training. He has three full length LP's; When The Sun Goes Down, Langhorne Slim and Be Set Free; two download EP's and a wide collection of live recordings. There are also guest appearances on many compilation albums which range from Pickathon to Paste Magazine. He has been on David Letterman with the song Restless. Rolling Stone named his song, Electric Love Letter as number 5 on the editor's top 10 picks. His song, Worries, which is often the introduction to his music for some fans, was chosen and still runs in a Travelers Insurance commercial. Mac Computers has used his music to promote their iPad, while Sesame Street boasts Lady Bug's Picnic. His interviews with radio stations are always great to watch, because he often adds exclusive song performances.
Since his last album, Be Set Free, I've counted six new songs this year that have come through either radio interviews or live performances. Past Lives - On The Attack - It's Time To Love Your Man - Again Tonight - Song For Syd and The Way We Move. I'm sure I have not listed them all, because another one seems to pop up at every show, and Langhorne Slim and The Law are on the road almost constantly, which is one of the reasons why it is so fun to follow this band.
As a fan based website with members who are passionate about experiencing music, and obsessed with collecting the details of how it is all created, I wanted to talk with Langhorne Slim about some historical threads and styles that have been on our minds since we discovered his magnificent sound. And so, we ramble on.
1. New Material.
Bluebird: We're here with Langhorne Slim at the Iron Horse. I'm really excited that next month you're going to be recording a new album.
Langhorne: Yeah, November, we're gonna take a month and a half off from touring and record in Catskill, NY. We're extremely excited about it.
Bluebird: You're going to be recording under a new label ?
Langhorne: I am, but it hasn't been decided who it is yet.
2. The Story of The Song, "My Future."
Bluebird: Talk to me about "My Future".
Langhorne: (laughs) That's not my song.
Bluebird: I know.
Bluebird: I got into your music around the time that you released "Be Set Free" and I kind of worked my way back.
Langhorne: That's a long way back.
Bluebird: I got all of your stuff in one weekend, I just got it all. And -so I knew "My Future", from listening it for a while on the EP and my friend, Doc Friedenson gave me hundreds of blues CD's to listen to and review and when I heard Willie Brown's version "Future Blues" driving in my car, I almost got into a car accident - because I knew your version first.
Langhorne: Yeah, yeah, That's crazy !
Langhorne: Yeah his version was many many many years before mine. So the story about that was - I went to school at Purchase college in Westchester, New York and I got friendly with - one of the head professors in the music program there, and I had never studied music previously so - he invited me in the program, offering me different sorts of opportunities to help me get by, because I didn't know how, and still unfortunately don't know how, to read or write music, so - I didn't exactly have the credentials to take- the conventional path through these courses. So he worked for a record label at that time and they were doing a lot of blues tributes to a lot of these old great guys, some well known and some hardly known at all, and I was given the opportunity to record that song and I did a blues tribute to the Grateful Dead - I was on that - and a few other sorts of wild things that for me were my first I think, really my first experiences, in an actual professional studio. He would take me there - I think it was in Yonkers - and if I did a good job on it and he approved, - it would help pass me through. And that also gave me more of an education in what I've gone on to do with my life, which is record and play at shows and stuff. So it was sort of a lucky break, because I got to go through school and learn stuff like that
Bluebird: It's brilliant, what you did with it.
Langhorne: Well, thanks!
Bluebird: Really. You did respect to the original, yet, you added some more tempo - you added some more life to it.
Langhorne: I think with songs like that if your gonna mess with them at all, you kind of have to try to make them your own and either fail miserably or succeed. At least, for my taste, I hear someone do a real straight version of an old blues song or even a Neil Young song, sometimes it just doesn't cut, it's got no real depth to it, so I think you have to take some chances - see what happens.
3. Early Influences and The Edges of New Sound.
Bluebird: You did an interview with the vinyl district, in Memphis?
Bluebird: - You said something to them that helped me explain why I like your music.
Langhorne: (laughs) What the heck did I say ?
Bluebird: (laughs) This is what happens when you're famous, other people remember what you say !
Langhorne: I should remember it though, so I can keep telling people !
Bluebird: You said that you love getting into the music of a genre when it's fresh, when it's new, when it's just right on the edge, early American blues, early punk, early classic rock. Can you say more about that, because when you said that, it made so much sense to me now when I hear and listen to your music.
Langhorne: Well, it's not just like my rule, with my music - it's what I do to try to keep that spirit I guess. I'm certainly not creating a new music form, I'm taking the forms that I love and putting my own spin to it. For me, going back and listening to music and the music that really connected and inspired me growing up, yeah, it was definitely early rock n roll music, punk rock music, American folk, blues, hip hop music. So when it's all, I think it's just at it's most, people are taking the most chances that there maybe haven't been a big success yet, there hasn't been a band that really breaks, there's nothing to copy yet, there's nothing to make it vanilla and b.s., so it's just bands that are doing it because it's new and exciting and you know, raw and wild, when else is art going to be more pure and exciting and beautiful than in that form. I think it's just the nature of anything that's a business, too it's -if something hits and then there's a model, let's get these guys to cut their hair like this, or, thankfully I haven't been through that, yet, nobody tried to do that to me yet for some reason, (laughs) but you know what I mean, whether or not somebody is trying to deal with you or you in your own head are like yeah man, I like that sound and then try to almost emulate it or copy it, but you can only go so far with that. So, so yeah.
Bluebird: I think that's why people like your music. because it takes the edges of all different styles, you've got soul, you've got a little funk sometimes ...
Langhorne: I've definitely tried not to smooth out my edges.
Langhorne: I won't, I won't do it.
"There we are, standing in the shooting stars, in our houses, in our cars, you didn't know it, now you do. This is the way, we move!"
4. The Gift of Music.
Bluebird: What do you want the upcoming generations to 'get' about music ?
Langhorne: I think just what anybody who loves music has always gotten from it, I mean, for me it saved my life, it has given me an outlet for everything so for me it is the greatest gift - of all. Not everybody is fortunate enough to play or write. I remember riding in the car when some piece of music came on and my grandmother started crying, my grandmother is a very weepy woman, easy to tears, we've always sort of lovingly given her a hard time about that, a lot of us in our family are easy to tears, but she is just like, " anybody that can't be moved to tears by a piece of beautiful music, I don't want to know that person " So I mean, it's a beautiful thing to have something move you that way, and get you through life at its beautiful and wonderful times and then at its shitty and terrible times, so we're lucky that we've got music to you know, be beside us in life, so that's what I would say to that. (laughs)
Bluebird: Awesome ... Thank You !
Langhorne: Thank You ! I hope you guys are going to stay for the show.
Bluebird: Thank You, We're done, that was perfect.
Langhorne: I hope so.
In this brief interview, I learned some great stories and could have asked a lot more questions about Langhorne's songs, more detail about the history of the band, or clues to what will be on the new album. I wanted to keep it short, though, because I know how hard Langhorne and his band work with every performance. Looking back at the footage, and thinking about it all for a few days, I realized that I learned far more from this interview than I expected. The philosophy of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts hit me like a brick on Sunday morning. We started the interview with details about the songs, history, stories, but Langhorne wrapped it all up with the relevance of music --- what it means to us. Music is more than the lyrics, traces of historical forms and blending certain instruments. In times of joy and grief, music is the friend that carries us and reminds us of who we are at our very souls.
"We're lucky that we've got music to be beside us in life."
~ Langhorne Slim.
Langhorne Slim and The Law are : Malachi DeLorenzo, drums; David Moore, keyboards and banjo; Jeff Ratner, bass; Langhorne Slim, guitar, harp, vocals. Visit their website at www.Langhorneslim.com.
For the video version of this interview, follow this link to our Youtube Channel at Bluebirdreviews. Thanks for stopping by !