Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Interview -- Royston Langdon (Spacehog, LEEDS)

"I'm tired
of being someone 
that I never knew." 
~ Royston Langdon ~

Lost in the shuffle of beaucoup bands that seemed to drop out of the sky in the ‘90s, Spacehog was one of my go-to's.  Spacehog, as I can best describe them, were the best parts of hard glam-pop rock. A refreshing offering of cut loose, infectious tunes. Frontman Royston Langdon's vocals had the qualities of Ziggy-era Bowie and "Preservation" Ray Davies.  He was both hard and fragile.  And the music filled a rock-and-roll sweet-spot while trying to walk the tightropes of high school.

So it's exciting news learning that Royston Langdon is set to release a solo album of new songs.  It's been  20+ years since “Resident Alien” hit our speakers.  He thankfully has survived all the parties and the shim-sham.  He's a grown-up now.  Not a given for anybody these days. And better still, while he was working it out, Royston Langdon gave us the opportunity to grow up a little bit ourselves.
Go get you some.

Royston Langdon Interview -- April 2018
Royston Langdon

Casey Chambers:  I'm really excited to learn you have a new album dropping very soon. A solo album called "Everything's Dandy."  And you're releasing it under the moniker...LEEDS...which is a fistbump to where you grew up in the U.K. This is great news.

Royston Langdon:  Oh, cool. Thanks.  Yeah,  I'm really excited, too.

Casey Chambers:  So, how did this project take flight?

Royston Langdon:  I started working consciously on bringing a record to life about two years ago...Christmastime...when I found myself alone in New York over the holidays.  And I was a little lonely and a little, y'know...there was not much going on for me at that time.  So I thought I'd put my energies into writing some music.  While everybody's on holiday, I'll kinda keep working.

And that's what I did.  Every day.  I just kept trying to add new music and little ideas started forming.  And slowly, I thought,  'Ah, there's something here.'  And it kind of took a course.  I wanted to try to represent my experience in New York.  Through changes.  Through loss.  Through growth.  And put it to music.  So yeah, it started about two years ago.

Casey Chambers:  The album, "Everything's Dandy" sounds very personal.  Very open shirt.  It aches, but not without redemption.  The song..."Someone" especially to that point.  You wrote the line..."I'm tired of being someone that I never knew." That really resonates.  Good stuff.

Royston Langdon:  Oh wow, thanks. Yeah, I think it's one of those universal things.  But for me it was just...'let's get honest and stop bullshitting.'  I think when you get a little bit start to realize there's no real point in keeping up a facade for anybody else.  'Cause you'll be a long time dead in the ground.  And it's not to be morbid or anything...but a call to action.  It's really quite hopeful.  I mean, we all aspire to be the highest form of ourselves, I think.  That's all I'm trying to say.

"Someone" - LEEDS / "Everything's Dandy" (2018)

Casey Chambers:  You also had an opportunity to work with Black Crowes guitarist, Rich Robinson on the song..."Your Day Will Come."  How did your paths cross?

Royston Langdon:  I think we actually met in New York around the time that they brought out their "Lions" record. (2001)  It was at one of those New York City release party kind of things.  Movers and shakers.  Mick Jagger.  Others were there.  Spacehog and The Black Crowes ended up going on tour together, along with those guys from Oasis.  It was called The Brotherly Love Tour.

Rich and I became quite friendly, actually.  Strangely. (laughs)  We shared some common traits.  And after the tour, we kept our friendship going.  At the time, he was living in Greenwich, Connecticut and I would go out there and spend time at his house and we'd just work on music.  We worked on quite a lot of music then.

He showed me a lot about Southern Rock.  Southern American Rock.  And not just rock, but country.  How some of those open tunings happen.  I mean, he helped me invaluably.  I'd never experienced that before, being from England.  I just found it fascinating.  So he definitely shaped the sound of that song into something that was totally different for me.  There's another song on the record called, "You Can't Go Home Again"...and the open tuning thing he was teaching me definitely had an effect on that song, too.  It's basically like the Keith Richards tuning.  An open G is what it is for any guitar people out there. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, it gives that song an oddly cool vibe, doesn't it?  I dug it.  Did your parents have a record collection when you were growing up?  Were you exposed to a variety of music?

Royston Langdon:  Yeah, man.  My parent's collection was very different.  My dad's collection was a bit older, I suppose.  He was born in the war...the second World War.  It was more American rock and roll.  Bill Haley and the Comets and all that.  I remember finding 78s of his.  He
had quite a good record collection actually.  A lot of that stuff.  Buddy Holly.  Not so much Elvis, but prior to that.  American '50s rock and roll predominately.  My mom was a bit more like your archetypal Beatles.  And I remember my mum had Abba.  That was something that came up.  I remember listening and seeing Abba's album... "Arrival"...and that cover having quite an effect on me.  You know what I mean?  That one where they show up in the helicopter?

Casey Chambers:  Sure, that was the one that had their monster hit, "Dancing Queen" on it, right?

Royston Langdon:  Yeah, and I thought it was a cool album cover.  Abba was pretty big at that time, I guess.  And then..."Dark Side Of The Moon" and that kind of stuff.  But I wouldn't say my parents were avid music listeners.  I think music was a big part of their lives, but they were working class people.  They certainly weren't hippies or anything.

Casey Chambers:  When did music start to become important to you?

Royston Langdon:  I don't know really.  I started off at a choir school when I was super young.  About seven, I started to learn music.  Some of that choral music was inspirational.  It was incredibly powerful.  But by the time I was 12, I'd seen Queen.  Queen was the first concert I ever saw and that had a big effect on me, for sure.

They played in Birmingham in the U.K. at the NEC Arena.  I was 12.  It was 1984.  It was one of those life-changing moments.  Freddie, and then Brian doing his guitar solos...and all the lights.  I remember I was standing on a chair and somebody behind me telling me to get off, 'cause I was blocking the view. (laughs)  It was all very exciting and a little bit dangerous somehow.  I can't quite explain.  I had never experienced anything like that.

Casey Chambers:  Not too shab for a "first" concert.

Royston Langdon:  Yeah.  So that kind of got me moving away from the choral shit into...'man, I wanna be like Freddie and those guys.' (laughs)  Pretty soon afterward, I went from studying piano to teaching myself how to play the electric guitar.  So, at the age of 12, 13...I was, 'Okay, this is my identity.'

Casey Chambers:  I'm a big fan of your work with Spacehog.  I was onboard from the debut..."Resident Alien" (1995) and the two albums that followed.  And I remember your breakout song, "In The Meantime" just exploding.  Hitting that sweet spot.

"In The Meantime" - Spacehog / "Resident Alien" (Late Show w/David Letterman 1996)

Royston Langdon:  Oh man, yeah, it was a gift.  I can't remember quite specifically.  It was twenty odd years ago now. (laughs)  But it was obviously a life-changing experience.  Hearing your song on the radio for the first time, it's a pivotal moment, I think, for any songwriter.  And it was for me. It's crazy when you recognize a piece of your work having such a profound effect on other people.  I'm very grateful for that time.

Casey Chambers:  It had to have been a buzzsaw promoting "Resident Alien" when it took off like it did.  I remember how excited I was watching Spacehog perform on Letterman for the first time.  Did that period wear your ass out?  What were those times like for you?


Royston Langdon:  Oh man, I really can't remember honestly.  You could show me the footage of it, and I wouldn't recognize myself.  I was a very young, frightened, egomaniac...feeling insecure.  I was a mass of contradictions.

I can't imagine now.  Well, I can imagine.  I have to imagine.  That's all I can do.  I can't put myself in those shoes now.  I have a lot of compassion for that person then.  I don't think he was very easy...given where I was from.  I was from a very parochial, provincial place North of England, y'know?  And within a year and a half of being in New York...I was starting to get a lot of notoriety.  And it's really hard to know what to do with that...when you really have very few life skills generally.  I mean, I didn't have to take care of myself then and I was struggling, I think, to keep up.

I think my talent and my success at writing what turned out to be a pivotal song...or some kind of song that connected...was beyond my abilities to manage the responsibility that came with it at that time.  I can only speak at it from a lateral position as to where I am now.  I can't possibly...other than to feel compassion and empathy for that person...I just can't put myself in those shoes again.  Do you know what I mean?  It was too long ago.

Casey Chambers:  The different faces that we've been.  Who was that guy?  I think I get it. There's a song you wrote with your brother, Antony Langdon..."What Became Of The People"...on your new album that reflects back on some of the past.  Could you talk a bit about that song?

Spotify - "What Became Of The People" - LEEDS / "Everything's Dandy" (2018)

Royston Langdon:  Being brothers, Antony and I have shared these common experiences throughout our lives. That's the beauty of having siblings.  Different people, and yet we have this common thread which is our lives.  There was a television show when we were growing up in England called, "The Likely Lads." (laughs)  And we basically lifted the idea.  It was referential.  It wasn't like we copied the song, it was just our way of looking at our nostalgia.  It's a beautiful thing to be able to say, 'Hey, we went through that.  We went through this.  I can't believe this happened.'  I do feel very fortunate to have him and my other brother Chris to refer to through these trials that we've been through.  And I think the song came out of that idea really.

Casey Chambers:  It's a great song. Very Kinkish. Pulls ya right in.  And your solo Leeds album, "Everything's Dandy"...when is it expected to drop?

Royston Langdon:  Yeah, May 4th.  May the 4th be with you. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Ludicrous speed! (laughs)  Are you planning to tour the album for a few shows?

Royston Langdon:  I've got a show coming up in Long Island this weekend, but I'd love to do some touring. My throat's a bit fucked from this fucking cough right now, the bastard...but hopefully, that will come about. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Better get some tea in ya...and fast.

Royston Langdon:  I am, man.  Right now.  I'm having the Chaga Tea.

Casey Chambers:  I'm having a spot of Reverie Coffee myself.  I'll drink to your health if you'll drink to mine. (laughs)  Thank you for all the good music.  And thanks again for hangin' out with me this morning.

Royston Langdon:  It's my pleasure, Casey.  Thank you.  Take it easy.  Peace and love.

Royston Langdon Official Website
Royston Langdon Facebook

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

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