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the Waco Brothers

A Conversation with Jon Langford

Puremusic: Hello, Jon. Thanks for talking to me. I know it's a gig day.

Jon Langford: It is a gig day, yeah.

PM: I love this new record, the Live And Kickin' in Schuba's Tavern. It's really a slammin' good time.

JL: Thank you. It worked out pretty good.

PM: It's a train that, once it gets rolling, it just doesn't quit the whole disc through.

JL: [laughs] It's what we do. It's a propulsion thing.

PM: It's a little heavier on the earlier songs, right? Was that planned or just how it happened?

JL: We actually recorded two nights, and we recorded a whole afternoon of stuff. In the sound check, we just played everything to make sure that we didn't kind of have a horrible disaster and not get anything we could use.

PM: Right.

JL: I think we used one song from the first night and everything else from the second night.

PM: Ah, I see.

JL: The whole thing just took off and that was just the set from the second night.

PM: 'Cause it's got continuity for sure in that sense. No wonder that it was mostly the whole second night.

Since it just took place, maybe you'd tell us how South by Southwest went for you and for you guys this time.

JL: It was nice. We actually felt like we had a product to promote, so--you go down there, you don't get paid anything, but you get warm and drunk in Texas. It's great.

PM: Yeah--good Mexican food--

JL: Our bass player couldn't make it, which was weird.

PM: Oh, that sucks.

JL: Yeah, I know. So we had to find someone else, but we got this amazing guy called David Beebe from Arthur, Texas--just completely nailed it. He was fantastic.

PM: Wow. Did he know the Waco Brothers' music, or he just was a great bass player?

JL: He had no idea about the Wacos' music.

PM: Really?

JL: He plays drums with Andre Williams.

PM: Really?

JL: Yeah. [laughs]

PM: Some of these guys are just incredible.

JL: It was--you know, it was something that we all have in common. Yeah, he was a total character. He's gonna play some duo stuff with me when I go out to West Texas in May. So it worked out really good.

PM: Being a drummer, I guess he's strictly an electric guy--or does he play stand-up, too?

JL: Straight electric bass. It was pretty wild.

PM: So did you do a load of shows down in South by Southwest?

JL: I did two solo shows, three Waco shows, and one with the Sadies.

PM: Oh, wow. One of my very favorite bands.

JL: Yeah, so you could say it was a load of shows.

PM: Yeah. We've interviewed the Sadies several times and reviewed them whenever we didn't interview them for a record. They're just one of our favorite acts. Was that a good time down there?

JL: It was great hanging out with them.

PM: They're just a great bunch of guys.

JL: Did a showcase at the Continental--I think on a Thursday night when I got in.

PM: I love that club.

JL: Yeah, Andre got up and did one song. They had to play quite a short set, 'cause they usually play forever, but it was kind of amazing. The place was packed and they just totally won the crowd over. It was one of the best shows I've seen them do. They're my heroes.

PM: Yeah, they're somebody to look up to. They've really got an amazing musical presence.

JL: You have to look up to them 'cause they're so tall.

PM: [laughs] Yeah, positively funereal. Their countenance is something to behold. So tonight as we were saying almost, the Mekons are playing at Schuba's in Chicago where this recent Waco Brothers CD was made. Is there a grand mindset difference for you between the two gigs?

JL: Yeah. [laughs] You know what? We're doing an electric show and an acoustic show the night with the Mekons, 'cause the last album was very acoustic. We've been doing these acoustic shows, but it's too small for the Mekons, really, just to play one show. But we bet a lot of people will--okay, if we do two shows, a lot of people will come twice. So it's kind of mean to do the same show, so we decided we'd do an acoustic show and our electric show tonight. It's different with the Mekons, but--I don't know. When you do a late show and it's electric, you kind of cut loose in a small club--yeah, there are probably some similarities.

PM: Yeah, and you're just one man. But for that matter--

JL: The Mekons are a very different thing in my head to the Waco Brothers.

PM: Yeah, and that's what I'm trying to get at. That's gotta be some kind of shifting of gears to go over to your Mekon self.

JL: Yeah. I haven't really found it a problem, but it's a very different feel. The Mekons is like a project. We're all kind of scattered across the globe, and the Wacos are kind of all in town. They're the people I hang out with. It's a very different variety. Kind of like a college reunion or something, when I hang out with the Mekons. We all get back together and we haven't seen each other for months--in some cases a year or something.

The Wacos, we're kind of always in our immediate circles out here. We don't really go out of town that much, but then with this album doing pretty well and getting some good offers... South by Southwest is great, 'cause you go down there, you don't get paid, but then people come up to you and say, "Will you come and play in St. Louis for a vast amount of money for this bachelor party?" [laughs]

PM: Right.

JL: It's like a way of reminding people that it's actually a really great band.    continue

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