Langhorne Slim has been making music his whole life. He released his first EP, Electric Love Letter, in 2004 and just recently released his latest studio album, The Spirit Moves. In the time between now and then, he’s gathered a reputation for putting out great albums and putting on even better shows. I’ve seen him twice in concert and my memories of his energy haven’t strayed far from my mind. I’ve seen him waving a lawn chair in the air, singing soulfully of his life. I’ve seen him walk through a crowd, lost in song, then climb up on a bar and let it all out. I’ve seen him two feet from my face starting a dance party in the middle of a crowd on a Monday night.
His shows and his albums speak of love and honesty, the good times and the bad. Whenever I try to describe why I like him, I can only say, “He’s just such a cool guy.” I recently interviewed Langhorne Slim on my radio show, Folk Ain’t a Joke, and he proved me right in every way.
Radio UTD: I really like that album that you just put out. It seems that you have gone through a lot between The Way We Move (2012) and The Spirit Moves (2015). What was that like?
Langhorne Slim: I don’t know. When you’re a human like me there’s always a lot going on whether or not I want there to be. So I’m always dealing with something. We probably all are. But yeah, I went through some things in that time – geographical moves, some spiritual moves – and it all got me to the place of – I live in Nashville, Tennessee right now and I was in Portland, Oregon and Northern California before that – and it brought me to the place to make that record. And I’m glad you liked it.
Radio UTD: I thought it was interesting that the titles are kind of similar in the sense that it’s talking about moving – The Way We Move andThe Spirit Moves. So why did you decide to do that?
Langhorne Slim: Yeah, I noticed that. I almost decided not to do it. There was nothing that brought me to do that other than the songs. I wish that the story was better to tell you but the two songs that we named those records off of: “The Way We Move,” which is the previous record title. And then this record when we got in the studio and were making the album we didn’t have a name for the record – I never have ever had a name for the record before getting into making it. And it just kind of came to, like, that that made sense. That song in particular [“Spirit Moves”] kind of talks about the spirits, whether they be energetic forces or actual ghosts, all things that I believe in, floating around my heart and mind. And it just sort of made sense. I became a sober man while I was making this record. I spent a lot of time with whiskey and wine bottles in my life and when I stepped away from that I started feeling the energy around me shifting and changing and a big, dramatic chapter of my life ending and another, hopefully big and doesn’t seem to be any less dramatic, chapter unfolding. And so things just felt different. And it came home and it was right around the time that we were going to get in the studio to make the record and that song, “Spirit Moves,” flew out of me where a lot of songs take a long time for me to get to the end. That one was kind of just there. So when we cut that song, for the reason that I thought it was a good title, number one and number two, it just seemed indicative of where I was as a changed and changing man. Ever so changing.
Radio UTD: That is a good story. I’ll go for that. Totally.
Langhorne Slim: Go for that one.
Radio UTD: Just looking at your music and the way that you carry yourself, your family and your sense of spiritualism have a big influence in your life. Tell me a little but about that.
Langhorne Slim: Well, I don’t know. It’s important to stay connected to where the hell you’re from. I’ve always felt like I’m more from people than I was from a place. And I don’t’ know if that’s anything that anyone can connect to and make sense of, but I’ve always felt more at home travelling and more at home on stages than in a house or in a town. That’s sort of changed since I got to Nashville. I feel really connected to this place. But my mom always had my back, my brother had pretty much always had my back. WE have each other’s more and more as we get older. And my grandparents were hug figures in both my brother’s and I’s life. I think I kind of carry that around wherever I go. Maybe just being a travelling person you have to hold on to something that you know is the real damn deal. Certainly Mom and my brother John and my grandparents are and were that.
As far as a sense of spirituality, I don’t have any idea. I’m just try to stay calm and make the best of it all. And I struggle to do that sometimes. I think my sense of spirituality right now is perhaps if I stop trying to figure it all out all the time, some things will start making a bit more sense. But I don’t know, Molly. I’ve always been a seeking soul, a restless fella. Even as a little kid. And I think that pushed me to write music and pushed me to get on stages. So it’s sort of a dance and a balance between feeling good with where you’re at and also wanting to be or go in some other direction, or keep moving.
Radio UTD: That makes sense. One of the big things people always say is “Home is where the heart is” and that’s not necessarily a place. There’s a lot of hearts out there.
Langhorne Slim: That’s a fact. Home is where the heart is and that can be a lot of places for sure. And it has been for me.
Radio UTD: You mentioned this earlier. You recently moved to Nashville. A lot of people have been moving to Nashville. I’m watching this huge migration of folk and indie bands heading on over.
Langhorne Slim: I’ve noticed this, yeah. Myself included.
Radio UTD: So how has that been?
Langhorne Slim: It’s been amazing. I’ve moved around a lot in my life and have been on tour most of my adult life and Nashville for me in the last three and a half, four years that I’ve been here – I’ve loved a lot of the towns that I’ve lived in – but I definitely feel a deep sense of community and being home when I’m here. I think there is, perhaps, a mysterious energy that I can’t put my finger on that makes it so darn sweet. And it’s also just that there’s so many – like you just said – so many folks that live here or are moving here. So many of us do go in a different way. We do the same thing so I think you’ve got a lot of sisters and brothers in this small city, in this small community where perhaps in other places there’s a lot more ice to break. Here it’s kind of one already knows what the other is about in some respects. So that can be a nice place to start a friendship or a relationship with somebody. So it’s just a lot of groovy folks. It’s been an awesome move for me.
Radio UTD: I’ve heard only good things from people who have moved there. After this whole migration, that’s definitely on my list of places to visit.
Langhorne Slim: Please come visit, Molly. We’d love to have you over here.
Radio UTD: It sounds like my heaven.
Langhorne Slim: Yeah, I think you’d like it.
Radio UTD: So I saw you back in September – I can’t believe it was so long ago – but, man, that show was crazy and always are. And they’re always so fun and all over the place. How are you able to bring it like that every night?
Langhorne Slim: The question is how can one not bring it every night. This is what I do so I need to do it. I wouldn’t be able to sleep well after the show if I didn’t bring it full force during it. It’s what I live to do.
Radio UTD: They’re just so fun. I look forward to them so much. I like to ask this just because I like to hear some stories. Do you have any good stories from the road? This can be from whenever.
Langhorne Slim: I can’t tell you the stories. You have to be a sophomore before I can. I’m just kidding. That’s stupid. Good Lord, I’ve been travelling and on tour… Oh, I’ve got a good story. I was going to say I get asked that and I never know what to say and I feel like I should have some good stories because I’ve been doing this for a long time. But here’s a good story that sticks out. There was a tour ending in Asbury Park back three or four years ago. I’m terrible telling time. But it was some years ago, we were ending a tour, we were tired, and we get to this little bar off the beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey. We unload our gear and I go and I use the restroom and I come out and Mia, our dear friend and our tour manager at the time, she looks like she’s just seen a ghost. I said, “Mia, what the heck is going on?” And she looked at me and she goes, “The boss is at the bar.” And I’m thinking to myself, who cares? The boss of the bar? Why are you looking terrified? And I go, “I don’t understand.” She goes, “The boss is at the bar.” And again I said, “I don’t – what the hell are you talking about?” She’s like, “Bruce Springsteen is sitting over at the bar!” And I look over there and there’s Bruce Springsteen and he’s sitting with a few people having a drink. The word comes to the band and I that Bruce Springsteen is aware of our band and likes our band, one of his kids is a fan, so he’s come to check the band out.
So I go and I call my mom from not far away from there. And my mother and Mrs. Galliyan – Chris Galliyan is my best friend since I was a baby and Mrs. Galliyan is my mom’s best friend – they drive up because not only is Bruce Springsteen at the bar but the great Liza Minnelli – I don’t know if you know who Liza Minnelli is, but my mom sure as hell knows who Liza Minnelli is – she’s playing at this bigger theater across the street and I’m able to get her a ticket. And so they come up and they watch Liza play and then they come to the bar. And the word has got out that Springsteen is probably going to come watch the show. If there was going to be a good crowd that night, I think just as many people were there to see Bruce Springsteen be there than us. So the place was just flooded. Lo and behold we start playing and Bruce Springsteen is jamming in the crowd with his kids, rocking his head the whole show, which was a surreal moment. It was great to have this physical, surreal experience and to meet somebody that is that legendary and has had such an impact musically on so many people and see what a cool dude he is. He was just so kind and down to earth and so that was a really cool experience. And to have my mom there and the band. It was really special. So that goes down as a cool story from the road. The other ones I’ll tell you some other time.
Radio UTD: That’s something else. One of my favorite things is seeing different musicians hanging out together and chilling.
Langhorne Slim: We’re all in it for the same reason, I think. But where one gets to it in popularity or for those outward forms of success, artists and musicians and writers I think are all drawn to it for the same reasons.
Radio UTD: I actually have a kind of fun story to tell you.
Langhorne Slim: Lay it on me.
Radio UTD: You probably don’t remember this, but back in 2014, you were playing in Indianapolis opening for the Avett Brothers and I was at that show. Don’t ask why I was in Indianapolis for an Avett Brothers show, but that was the first time I had ever seen you and I was so excited. So I went over to the merch table before the concert and I bought one of your shirts. And when I was coming back, I passed by where the tour busses were and you were standing there on the other side of the gate and I was like, “You’re Langhorne Slim!” I freaked out. Then you hugged me and I was very happy.
Langhorne Slim: Did I freak out? I was waiting for what I did. I was like, oh, I hope I did something good. A hug is good. I was equally as excited to see you there, my friend.
Radio UTD: Well thanks. So what’s next for you? Do you have anything cool coming up?
Langhorne Slim: Well, yeah. We put the last record out in August and I’m thinking about recording something in the not too distant future. Something a little bit different than that record so I’m working on some stuff for that. And then we are heading to the West Coast for some shows in January and then we’re going to go out with the band Devil Makes Three on the East Coast and then we’ll see. We’ll take it from there.
Radio UTD: Cool stuff, man. Looking forward to that. Are you going to do a lot of shows next year or are you going to take it easy, do you know?
Langhorne Slim: I haven’t taken it too easy for a long time, so I would be surprised if I took it too easy. I’m not exactly sure what the year is going to look like. But we want to finish touring on this record and I’m already feeling the buzz to get some other stuff out there and to make some new music to keep the fire burning. That’s what I’m planning on doing. Trying to have some damn fun.
Radio UTD: I’m always down to hear some new music from people like you. Well it’s been really great to talk to you, Langhorne.
Langhorne Slim: It’s been my pleasure.