Interview: Jeff Lang

Jeff Lang
Interview by Leo Abbs

Jeff, ‘Prepare Me Well’ is an introduction to a Jeff Lang.
Which Jeff Lang song would you play for a friend who had never heard you before?

That’s tough… One song eh? Depends on the day of the week really…

If it were Friday afternoon it might be ‘The Road is Not Your Only Friend’.
Saturday Arvo; ‘Ravenswood’,
Saturday eve; ‘The Save’,
Sunday morning; ‘Molasses and stone’ perhaps…

How do you describe your music to a stranger?
If I did do that I might call it mongrel music. But I don’t usually. 🙂

You have been to Perth many times before, where was the first gig you played in Perth?
Would’ve been with Matt Taylor – I think it was the City Hotel back in 1990.

What is the best gig you have played in Perth?
I can remember a few absolute rippers at Mojo’s in Fremantle.

What is your favourite venue in Perth?
The Fly By Night in Freo is great, and I still have a sentimental attachment to Mojo’s.

Do you have any favourite bands/musicians from Perth?
There are loads of good ones… Lucky Oceans and all the players in the Zydecats, Dave Brewer, Steve Tallis, Angus Diggs, John Butler, The Waifs, Carus, Ten Cent Shooters, Dave Hole, Bob Patient, Matt Taylor, Lyndsay Wells, Ivan Zar, Kill Devil Hills, Kim Salmon, Don Neander, Richie Pavledis… I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting.

Are there any places you love to visit in Perth?
Usually I’m just catching up with mates.

What is the most common subject you write about and why?
There’s no one topic really – probably more illuminating to see what someone else thinks are the predominant themes. See, I don’t try and steer the songs while they’re coming to me. I try to keep my own mind and agendas out of the way and let the lyrics fall in my lap, so they remain mysterious to me.

Guitar wise, what tunings do you use? Which tuning is your favourite?
Home base would be Open E, but in the coarse of the average gig I probably use a dozen or so, some separated by the pitch of just one string, others quite different to one another.

What do you think of the Internet revolution in terms of:
a) the music industry?
It seems to scare the old-school industry, which is a good thing I think. It’s hard to know what long-term effect, if any it will have you know? I do still enjoy browsing through the racks at independent record stores and I do worry that they may be hurt the hardest by more people shopping online.

b) musician?
I think in many ways it empowers musicians to be able to reach people more directly.

c) a music fan?
I’ve read various stories about how downloading is killing off people’s appreciation of the full-length album and that listening to individual songs on their own is somehow diminishing the enjoyment, but I don’t see how.

I mean for years now people have turned on the radio to discover new music, and they only hear individual songs rather than a full record for the most part. I think it’s cool that people can find more obscure music just as easily as the mainstream stuff. It’s certainly helped me track down certain music that I wouldn’t be able to find in JB Hi-Fi.

What are five albums you have been listening to lately?
1. Solid Air by John Martyn
2. Meanwhile In The Parlour by The Wayward Fancies
3. Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers debut self-titled record
4. Mute Massaker by Caspar Brotzmann
5. Yap by Hamell On Trial.

Jeff Lang will be in Perth for the following dates:

Friday 11th May
Fly By Night Musician’s Club
Parry St, Fremantle WA

Saturday 12th May
The Indi Bar
23 Hastings St, Scarborough WA

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Live Review: Blackjack Festival

Blackjack Festival
Thursday 05 April 2007
Claremont Showgrounds
Review by Susan Cowling

Festival goers weren’t going to let inclement weather stop them going mad at this one, especially given the headliners.

Children Collide were a bit of a surprise package with raw bass lines and harsh jangly guitar but with a seriously catchy tune. These guys have just flown in from a mini UK and US tour for their own mini Oz tour. I can’t wait for the full version.

Birds of Tokyo were in fine voice, but upstaged by Children Collide. The heavens opened up at the beginning of their set, but it didn’t stop the hardcore fans from bopping along.

Fans of the Vines have changed much, fanatical and screaming at every opportunity. The set was disorganised and a little lazy; some of their equipment failed and …the lead singer…seemed more than a little confused (nothing new really). The band seemed really appreciative of the crowds support and rewarded them with a set heavy with “Highly Evolved” songs.

Eskimo Joe attracted their average fan- stale, lifeless and colourless. No- to be fair- the band put on a great set; tight, with most of their hits. No matter how many times those naughty little indie kids yelled out for “Sweater” and “RSPCA Love Song”, it just wasn’t going to happen. Great production values, mellowed sound, played to an appreciative local crowd during a golden sunset.

The sun had finally departed when the 11 piece Gnarls Barkley ran on stage and assumed “the position.” Right off we were in for an event with all members decked out in punkesque red tartan school uniforms, and a four piece strong section, in what main man, Cee-Lo Green called, the “School of Rock.”

They opened with a Pink Floyd cover- ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part II, which got the whole crow singing along. Green tried hard to fir up the crowd for a bit of dancing and zaniness, however, this was not a Gnarls Barkley crowd, and not really the best forum for the band. The crowd gave a semblance of interest, but didn’t truly appreciate the effort, and were just waiting for the main event. There is no questioning their showmanship, energy and musical skill- I thought they were bloody fantastic and it annoyed me that they weren’t as high up on the bill as they should have been.

The Living End seemed comfortable in their slot of being the last act before the Pixies. Where most bands would perhaps quail and falter, the Living End saw it as a challenge to rock as hard as they could. And the crowd loved them for it. They did their characteristic rockabilly, bass slapping/standing, trading on the hits of old. Front man Chris Cheeney seemed a bit conflicted- in awe of and excited to perform before the Pixies, yet not really wanting to be in Perth, (no matter how many times he said they loved Perth, he couldn’t quite get that smirk off him face). The music was tight and tested by time with most of the crowd favourites getting an airing

For such a small mosh pit area, a surprisingly large number of people can squish their way in. Everyone wanted a piece of the Pixies, and went wild as soon as they caught a glimpse of Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering and Charles Tompson IV/Black Francis/Frank Black. There was a noticeable coolness between Black and Deal, though thankfully no spats, guitar throwing and dramatic stage break-ups like the Pixies of old.

Whilst much of their set was fairly mellow and slowed down considerably from their typical frantic thrash, the music was as intense as ever. All the favourites from Debaser, Wave of Mutilation, Silver, La La Love You, to Caribou were played for the salivating, and at times, close to tears, crowd. The crowd sung along to every song, swayed to the beat and danced when they could. After the beautiful and climatic end all of the Pixies walked across the stage to thank their adoring fans. As another punter said, you really understood that it was the (for many) first and (most likely) last time- but at least we got to say goodbye.