Copyright © 2000. All Rights Reserved
Music - Cover
by FFWD Staff
The week-and-half of phone tag that takes place in order to get Jon Langford and not his answering machine or wife or record company or... on the other end of the line, is not as annoying as youd expect. Actually, its fairly easy to cut the guy some slack considering he has more on his plate than Randy Bachman in line at Treasures of China.
Other than just being Jon Langford, husband, father and transplanted Welshman, hes also been a music producer, a rock journalist and a member of musical projects which include: now-defunct politico art rock group The Three Johns; legendary pop act The Mekons (formed in England in the late 70s); country-tinged outings with The Pine Valley Cosmonauts and his "noisy bar band" The Waco Brothers; a duo consisting of himself and fellow Mekon, Sally Timms; as well as a healthy solo career and guest appearances on the albums of friends in the biz.
And when hes not making music?
"I paint, as well," a tireless Langford says from his Chicago studio. "Its almost like my day job now.... Its kind of strange, not something I ever envisioned doing, but it seems to have happened, so...."
It is strange especially when you consider the fact that Langford, after spending time at art college in the 70s and 80s, immersed himself instead in a life of music. The painting only came about in the last six or seven years, when he chose to do it for himself and then found that others were interested in his vision.
But, as Langford is quick to point out, the visual and aural arts are inextricably linked to one another. Well, at least the way he does it.
"My painting is really very much based around music," he says. "Theyre like little songs thats the idea."
That connection is furthered by the release of Langford and Timmss latest CD Songs of False Hope and High Values which features one of Langfords little songs adorning the cover. The limited edition (only 2000 pressed) eight-song effort features the pair joined by a handful of Bloodshot Records friends (Jon Rauhouse, Tom Ray, John Rice and Steve Rosen) for an emotive roadtrip through the contemporary American wilderness.
It furthers Langfords attempts to get back to the roots, so to speak, of songwriting and away from the rock band tendencies hes built a reputation on.
"Im kind of interested in playing acoustically a lot lately. I like the idea of being able to write songs that you can strum on a guitar. I like the clarity and directness about that," he says.
"Theres a nakedness that appeals to me with just you, the words and the song, you cant really hide behind anything."
That doesnt mean the band hes most familiar for has come to an end. In fact, at a recent outdoor show that featured headliners Patti Smith and Richard Thompson, he was able to marry his new sound with the old as The Mekons performed an acoustic set for the crowd of 5,000.
"Theres no reason to stop," he says of the 20-year-old band, "our expectations are so low."
So other than more material from The Mekons, Langfords future remains a busy one. The upcoming months will find him working with Freakwaters Janet Bean on an anti-death penalty fund-raiser album as well as a new release from The Waco Brothers and more solo material.
The endless opportunities, Langford says, are all part and parcel of living in his adopted home, Chicago, to which he emigrated after following his fiancée across the sea. The Windy City, it seems, is the perfect environment for more than just relationships of the love and marriage kind.
"Theres a lot of co-operation," he says. "People enjoy working together in this city. Theres not that sort of jealousy that you find when theres a lot more at stake.
"I think its pretty healthy, maybe because theres not a lot of major label acts worrying about whos top dog."
| Back To This Issue Table of Contents | Back To Main Index |