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Low-Down and Dirty with Grant Langston
By Courtney Sudbrink, Editor
Working Until I Die is the latest effort from Alabama native, real-deal, homespun Urban Cowboy, Grant Langston. Delivering genuine tales of heartache, hard-times, hard-work and honky-tonk, Langston proves to be LA’s own Poet of the Common Man, singing “for the Rednecks as Hollywood drunkards cry out for more.” Taking cues from Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, Langston brings back memories of the heydays of Classic Country, with a wholly original, authentic voice and modern-day twist on traditional telecaster-driven twang. Langston recently answered some Low-Down & Dirty Q & A for Turnstlyed Junkpiled, talking about everything from his new album, life as a cowboy, his thoughts on “Sweet Home Alabama” and answering the age old question, “Who is the King of Honky-Tonk?”
Your new record is entitled “Working Until I Die.” What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and did it involve a near-death experience?
My worst job ever was not dangerous, although there were times I thought I might die of boredom. In high school, I worked at a men’s clothing store called Chad’s in our local mall. One day I could barely dress myself and the next I was recommending $1000 suits to people. We sold a lot of Michael Jackson jackets and the store radio was cemented to the local Top-40 station on orders from our manager, Rusty. I became brain-dead from the pounding Shalamar tunes.
Your band is called “The Supermodels.” In order to live up to their name, do you keep them on a strict LA starvation diet or do you encourage consumption of deep-fried Alabama Country-fare?
The name of my band is the kind of thing that gets coined during a drunken night and feels clever and groundbreaking, then just haunts you forever. I’ve had many drunk patrons approach me after we’ve played and say, “Hey buddy, I paid my $9 to see some supermodels tonight and alls I see on that stage is a bunch of dudes.” A starvation diet isn’t going to help my guys get any closer to “supermodel” status. Our best approach is to lather on the gravy and butter and tell people that we’re Hand Models.
As an Alabama native, what are your thoughts on the song “Sweet Home Alabama”?
“Sweet Home Alabama” is a badass song. That lick is one of the top 5 best Rock and Roll guitar licks of all time, in my opinion. The lyrics are pretty interesting, and I have to say right wing. “Watergate doesn’t bother me. Does your conscience bother you?” Uh…okay. But we covered that song once in France at a club in Nice and I thought the patrons we’re going to tear the bar down they were dancing so hard. That is the power of a song.
On your new album, you sing “Everyone Loves Me When I’m Drunk.” How do they feel about you when you’re sober?
That’s why videotaping a show is a risky idea. A few drinks, a rocking crowd and everything seems beautiful. Watch that tape the next day in the cold light of day, and it can be deeply disappointing.
“Working Until I Die” ends with the song, “Ain’t that Kind of Cowboy.” If you ain’t “that kind of cowboy,” what kind of cowboy are you?
I’m the kind of cowboy that likes to drink Tennessee whiskey and listen to Buck Owens records. I’m the kind of cowboy that likes to cut his own grass — maybe put a water pump in his car. I’m the kind of cowboy that gets told “no” a thousand times and keeps insisting that I can make it work. I’m the kind of cowboy that likes to strap a bag on the motorcycle and drive, for days. I think being a cowboy has a lot less to do with what you wear than what you do.
You sing that you “like Merle Haggard because he tells the truth.” Our slogan is “Like Merle Haggard we’re no BS.” Does this mean that The Hag can now be considered the Abe Lincoln of Country Music?
“Honest Hag” doesn’t quite have the ring of Honest Abe, but the sentiment applies. It is, essentially, the difference between modern country music and music made by men who went to jail, worked with their hands, made mistakes, and practiced the honest trade of songwriting. I don’t think the world we have now is capable of producing songwriters of such depth.
Mainstream “Country” is filled with stereotypes. Following the “tractors, trucks, fishing beer and jesus” formula, give a Johnny Cash style message for the establishment in the form of a made-up song title.
Johnny’s song for the Nashville establishment would be called, “Soft Hands, Soft Heads, and Hard Hearts”
In the 1970s, Time Magazine called Gary Stewart the “King of Honky-Tonk.” As a man who knows his Honky-Tonk, we leave it to you to re-assign that title to someone else. Who would you pick for TJ’s proclaimed, King of Honky-Tonk and why?
Here’s the thing…Honky Tonking is a lifestyle. You can’t play the Nokia Theater and be a Honky-Tonker. You can’t play the El Rey Theatre and be a honky-tonker. You can’t have a big huge bus. You can’t stay at the Ritz Carlton. Most people who play honky tonks wish they weren’t. Sometimes, if I’m honest, I feel that way. I’d like a nice dressing room and a plate of fancy cheeses for after the show. But, The King of Honky-Tonk doesn’t give a shit about fancy cheese. He doesn’t need a dressing room. He will change clothes at the bar. (If he even needs to change clothes!) THE KING OF HONKY-TONK doesn’t care if he has any monitors. He doesn’t care if the bar is air conditioned or full of pretty girls. He is there to lay down the business, and the rest of it doesn’t matter one bit. I think the man who best personifies this spirit is Mike Stinson. He could probably do many things. He chooses to honky-tonk and that is a wonderful thing.
If you were involved in a Wild West shootout, what other local LA artists would you want in your posse?
If I’m in a shootout, I want cold hard killers on my team. Men who are often kind and warm, but have that look in their eye that says, “If I have to, I’ll bust your ass.” Here’s my posse. David Serby, Robert Black (The Far West), Josh Fleeger (from my band The Supermodels), Tex Troester (The Groovy Rednecks), Austin Hanks (Alabama boy), and Ben Reddell. I imagine whatever trouble comes our way, me and these boys could sort it out.