Since the end of the ’90s, Langhorne Slim has been turning out homegrown hit after hit, gradually gaining a wider recognition. Langhorne and his loyal band, The War Eagles, have been touring non-stop, state to state and country to country, greeting fans and giving folks a night to remember. Their popularity has grown by word of mouth from fan spreading the love. It’s fair to say, that right now, Langhorne Slim is bringing around one of the greatest shows on Earth.
Langhorne Slim has created a genre of his own, it’s something he has always had inside him (with a touch of subconscious influence). Listen to a finger picking intro and it’s easy to recognize that it’s Langhorne. His unique voice was made to sing his style of music. This is feel good music, in the most lovable way. You’ve probably even gotten one of his songs in your head without realizing it.
Langhorne Slim will be making his way to Ozark, Arkansas for Wakarusa, playing Friday June 3rd in the Revival Tent at 4:30pm, right before Lucero. So get there nice and early to catch a good spot. His high-energy stage presence makes for some great entertainment. His songs are catchy enough to grab onto at first listen, you’ll be singing and dancing along before they end. His shows are tons of fun: isn’t that what it’s all about?
We got to chat with Slim as he was driving up the West Coast on his way to Portland, Oregon. We talked about the new songs he plans to play at Wakarusa, what he has in the works for his new album, and Bermuda.
The Ozark Echo: I really want to spread the word around here that you put on a fantastic live show. I saw you at Folk Fest on my birthday and your set was fun to dance to and full of energy. What can people coming to see you at Wakarusa expect?
Langhorne Slim: They can expect their faces to melt with sweet love and carmel popcorn…vegan carmel popcorn.
OE: At Folk Fest, everyone was waiting in the heat for the gates to open and you shook hands and greeted fans, and you always have pictures with fans popping up online. You seem like a real friendly guy. Do you encourage people to come up and say hi?
LS: Yeah, of course. I don’t know that I’m that friendly or not friendly but it’s just that we’ve been a band for about seven years and we tour constantly and the biggest part of it is to engage with the audience and have great energy with the people who are coming to see you. Maybe if you’re playing for thousands of people it just becomes too much when you get to a certain level. For me and where I come from, to not meet the people that are supporting you and enjoying what you’re doing seems anti-productive. I get a lot of pleasure out of meeting people all over the place and hearing about their lives, so it’s nice for me and it seems to be nice for those people that are coming to the shows.
OE: How do you like playing music festivals?
LS: I love it! I love it when they’re good and I don’t like it when they’re not that good (Laughs). I love all shows when we do a good job, so we try to do a good job a lot.
OE: You have been singing for a while now and I’ll put on the Slim Picken’s album from 1999. Your voice is so unique and in my opinion unchanged, you have that “Langhorne Slim” sound that I can’t really describe in any other way. I get this weird picture of you singing in the way you do, right out of the womb, with your guitar and your hat full of energy miniaturized and singing. Did have this powerful voice as a kid?
LS: I guess so. I came out of the womb with a guitar and a hat, and also with a cigarette. I’ve since quit smoking so that’s good. My mom was pissed off when I popped out with a Camel. But yeah, I think I’ve always had a similar sound at least since I’ve been writing songs, I think my voice has changed a bit since I first started with the homemade CDs like Slim Pickens and stuff, from getting older. I was so young then but I’ve always expressed my voice in a similar way in the songs that I’ve written and since I’ve started writing.
OE: Ok, two part question. There are two memorable YouTube videos you shot in Bermuda in 2008 “We Love the Animals” and in 2010 “For a Little While.” Tell me about Bermuda and then tell me about what the inspiration was behind these those videos?
LS: Bermuda has been a really awesome fortunate thing for us. One of my best friends, and now he’s become one of the band’s best friends, is Bermudian and he’s just kind of like a pirate. It’s a small island and they do things a lot differently than we might be used to it out here. But anyway, he would figure out ways to get money from this arts council from the government and put on art exhibitions and concerts and stuff like that. He got ahold of me and we came out and played the Bermuda Film Festival and it went over pretty well so every year we get an opportunity to go back and play for Bermudians and we’ve made some really good friends out there and make it a week vacation and play one or two shows so that’s really great. We’re actually going for Memorial Day weekend for a friend’s wedding that we’re gonna play.
And then the inspiration behind those video’s was to do Cracker Farm sort of stuff. If you’re not familiar with him, it was a husband and wife but now it’s the husband and sometimes the now ex-wife. They would do great videos and different things with us and The Avett Brothers and many different other people. They would also come out to Bermuda and shoot some stuff and we would do it in that style. But, when do you get to walk on a beach in Bermuda? When you’re out walking on a beach in Bermuda. I don’t walk on a lot of beaches in Bermuda too often so it seemed like a waste not to do something while we were out there.
OE: You did a duet with Seth Avett at Radio City Music Hall, in October in 2010. If you could do a duet with any female singer who would it be?
LS: I kinda got the dream-come-true on the last record, there’s a song on that [“Leaving My Love “] where I sang with Erika [Wennerstrom] from The Heartless Bastards, who’s one of my favorite contemporary female singers. I’d love to sing with Lucinda [Williams].
OE: She’s actually playing here in Fayetteville on Sunday, and she used to live here. She’s got a really big fan base around here so that would be awesome.
LS: Oh I bet, I’m a big fan of hers and she came to see us play when we had a show in Nashville and her and her man came out and saw us. We got to hang with her and meet her, which was a big thrill. Oh there’s so many female singers I’d love to sing with. I’d try to sing with Janis, I don’t know if I could hang with her but I’d try. I don’t know if that would still be possible, but maybe if we meet one day in the sky.
OE: On April 7th you tweeted you were working on some new songs in Texas, will you be playing any new songs at Wakarusa?
LS: Yes, definitely. We’ve incorporated at least four or five new songs into the set we’re trying to polish up and write. I guess we’ve got about fifteen new songs. They’re not all ready to go yet. I’d like to have at least five or ten more before we start to record the new record which should be at the end of the summer or early fall. Hopefully we will have a new record out for people soon.
OE: Cool, do you have a name for it yet?
LS: If I did and I told you I would have to kill you and you’re so nice I would hate to do that. I’ve got a couple ideas, nothing to announce yet.
OE: Are you still playing the piano?
LS: I am. I’m not an expert but I write on the piano when I can and it’s a great outlet. I’m more of a guitar player so sitting at the piano gives you an opportunity to write in a different way. I still enjoy it very much.
OE: What kind of sound is the new album going to have?
LS: I think it’s going to have a bit of a raw kind of sound, of course this could all be lies or wrong when we get in the studio. Maybe it’ll be an electronic, heavy metal record. The idea right now is for it to be live and raw sounding, maybe a little bit more beats in the background. Still some ballads and mellow songs but with some more dance tracks I hope.
OE: Is it influenced by any music you’ve been listening to lately?
LS: Probably subconsciously. I think all my songs are very influenced and inspired by all the music I’ve listened to and always enjoyed listening to. Which is all around, many, many musical genres, a melting pot of genres.
OE: Seen the waka lineup?
LS: I haven’t looked at it yet, it’s embarrassing to tell you the truth. I think because we’ve toured so much over the years that I’ve gotten to where I just concentrate on the tour that I’m on and the festivals we’re doing on that specific tour. During my time off I think nothing about the upcoming tour until about a week before and then I get mentally prepared. So I haven’t even looked at the line up yet, but it’s a great festival and we’ve done it once before and I’ve heard great bands are playing. Do you want to fill me in on some bands? Or just leave me to be embarrassed?
OE: We’ve got My Morning Jacket, which is really awesome to have them headlining. I’m really excited to see Hoots and Hellmouth and Frontier Ruckus and Lucero (who get a lot of love around here).
LS: Lucero took us on our first van tour. Hoots and Hellmouth we know from Philly, they’re from where I’m originally from. So who else are you excited for?
OE: Let’s see, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I’ve never seen them before. Ben Harper I’ve liked him since I was really young. I think I saw him open for Pearl Jam in the 90’s.
LS: I don’ think I’ve ever seen him before but sounds like we’ll be in some mighty fine company.