This is the second of a two-part interview with Langhorne Slim, who was in Charlotte June 8th, playing at The Fillmore Charlotte. In the first part of this interview we talked about the title track from his 2012 album with Ramseur Records, “The Way We Move.” In part two we’ll talk about the song “Fire” from the same album.
In the first part of the interview Langhorne talked about how his writing process for this album was different from previous ones. Instead of writing on guitar, he wrote on piano, an instrument that was pretty new to him. The piano part is central to “Fire” but it’s also more prevalent throughout the entire album than it was on previous albums. I asked Langhorne if this was a result of him writing the songs on piano.
LS: That’s not the reason. The influence of me writing on piano is just what we talked about before, me trying to be inspired by doing something different. I think that the band sounds a lot different on this record because for the first time it’s this band on a record. So there’s David Moore who plays banjo and piano. This is the first record that he’s ever done with us. And then Jeff Ratner, our bass player. When we had done the “Be Set Free” record, he came as almost a studio musician. Not really, we wanted him to be in the band, but I don’t know if he had done any shows at that point. He really came in to fill our dear friend Paul (Defiglia), who had left the band, to fill his shoes, not to fill his shoes, but to play bass in our band.
So we weren’t a road-tested band of brothers at that point. Malachi (DeLorenzo), the drummer, and I have been together about 10 years so he and I were. But a lot of those songs (from “Be Set Free”) were written or at least finished in the studio. Jeff was learning in the studio, which is fine, but in this particular case (“The Way We Move”) we were a band for, I don’t know, two years, on the road, eight, nine months out of the year, as these four individuals, playing these songs every night, learning each other’s musical language so to speak.
So by the time we got into Old Soul Studio we were way more ready to make a record than I’d ever been before. And having that bond with them, and this guy Kenny Siegal who we recorded it with, I’d personally never felt as inspired and comfortable in a recording environment and I just never had a band of dudes that were that badass and ready. I wasn’t showing anybody parts. They knew their parts. And then just the adding of David has changed our sound and brought a lot more. The piano’s a lot more prevalent, banjo obviously more prevalent, just cause that’s what the man plays and he plays it real well.
I talked about David Moore’s style on piano, which is pretty intense. He hits the keys hard. I asked if he walks away from shows with bruised fingers.
LS: Well, he does bleed a lot when he plays the banjo. Now he’s got some preventative measure. Apparently there was a picture at what’s probably our favorite festival in the world that we play, it’s called Pickathon, in Portland, it’s amazing. And there’s a picture of him from a few years ago where his fingers just kind of exploded and it’s gross but it’s also punk rock as hell and awesome. And the head of the banjo is covered with blood. And someone had posted it on some big picture website (Reddit) recently and it kind of exploded so he had a famous bloody hand and banjo picture for like a day.
I asked if when he wrote “Fire” if he had in mind how it would end up being arranged. It’s piano-driven, with very little guitar. It has a honky-tonk feel with a sort of call-and-response between the other instruments and the drums at the end of the chorus.
LS: No. Some of that I had in mind. I thought it would be a harder, more guitar-driven tune. It almost came out as bluesy, swampy kind of. It came out like a soulful, bluesy kind of tune. And I had thought…I was in my head referencing more of a Pixies song, believe it or not. The way it came out it’s hard to imagine but, I was hearing more like “Where Is My Mind?” the Pixies tune. Kind of maybe ripping that off a little bit.
But yeah, that’s the cool thing about playing with other people too, and just what happens in the studio is that often times it doesn’t come out the way you had envisioned it. It’s a fortunate and lucky thing when you have people where it doesn’t come out the way you envisioned it, but you really dig the way it does. You’re happy that it went to where it went.
At this point, I might have talked a whole lot about how much I love this song and how it’s my favorite song from my favorite album of 2012. I mentioned that I had first seen him play “Fire” at the U.S. Whitewater Center, and then recognized it when he started playing it at The Visulite and videoed it.
LS: I wonder if you saw some sort of evolution of it because it used to be more guitar-oriented. I’d start out on guitar. Now I put the guitar down.
I was curious so I searched for a video of “Fire” from the Whitewater Center July 3rd, 2011. Check it out, and then watch the one I shot at The Visulite March 7th, 2012, and see how the song changed in eight months of touring.