Spacehog's Royston Langdon on David Bowie: "He's an Amazing Human Being"
Of all the unique artists spawned from the now nostalgic, post-Nirvana '90s, Spacehog may well be the most criminally underrated. A complete oddity in its unabashed referencing of '70s British glam-rock in an era characterized by the decidedly antiglam climate of grunge, Spacehog enjoyed a massive hit in 1995 with the song "Meantime." The band of British men, led by the brothers Langdon, proceeded to enjoy several more years of success before being unfortunately relegated by a dying industry to the painful exile of one-hit-wonderdom, and inevitably, things slowed and then stopped for Spacehog.
But the compulsion all artists have to create paired with the chemistry that made Spacehog a great rock band resulted in the 2013 release of As It Is on Earth, its first album in more than 12 years. Though the band now occupies an understandably more mature sonic space, the fuzzy guitars, anthemic choruses, and undeniably '70s pomp that made it such a unique breath of fresh air in 1995 remains intact.
In preparation for the reunited Spacehog's return to South Florida, we spoke with frontman and bass player Royston Langdon on the topics of longevity, future plans for the Spacehog, and what "an amazing human being" David Bowie is.
New Times: Is there a key to the longevity Spacehog has enjoyed, especially after all the band has been through?
Royston Langdon: We're lucky because we get to play music. I try and bear that in mind at all times these days; it's very easy to forget that, and that is really the basis for doing this in first place, you know? Obviously it changes as one grows up and gets older and once responsibilities change in life, but the entity is still the same. Being able to share in that experience in sharing one's musical ideas and feelings, you know, which is something I still love about doing it, and I don't think that will ever necessarily change.
Do you still live Stateside? I know the band has a long history in NYC.
Yeah, I do! I've lived there [New York City] for nearly 20 years. I had a couple of years in L.A. and about a year and a half that I lived in Brooklyn, but I've essentially lived in Manhattan since I was 21.
As a band identified as British that came up playing music in the United States, how would you say that helped to shape the band?
It's interesting, because I feel -- and I don't know if the other guys do -- but I certainly feel like an original of the United States, and I think I came to America with the same dream that a lot of people still come to America with today. Obviously, that is part of my story and reflected in all of the albums, but particularly in Resident Alien. But yeah, growing up in England until I was 21, my musical influences are definitely English, but I definitely wanted to get out of England.
Is there a follow-up planned for As It Is on Earth?
Well, yeah... I almost felt like we should have called this one a part one because there was a lot of music on it from the time when we were not really playing. I like it all to kind of relate to each other, and a lot of the music that we did or have done over the last ten years or so didn't fit in with this particular collection.
I almost feel like there is a part two to this record, and I don't want to call this part one -- didn't want it to be so pompous -- but I would think there is another record, and I hope it doesn't take another 12 years or whatever. The idea is that we can try to release a record every 18 months to two years now. We have certain limitations right now because we are funding this a lot ourselves; you know, there's not the money that was floating around in the '90s anymore, so we do have to be able to make it work financially. A lot of people still don't really know that we're out there doing stuff, but yeah, our hopes are certainly to be as productive as we are able to be, given our circumstances.
How has the fan reception been since Spacehog returned to an active status?
By the end of the last tour, we felt really good musically, and I think we've had a really symbiotic experience with our audience, and really, that's all I could ever hope for. Right now, the glass is definitely more than half full!
As a member of a band that has always identified itself as a direct product of the golden-age of British glam, I have to ask if you have any thoughts on the new Bowie record.
I think it's really good on the whole. I've always loved David Bowie musically, and I got to know him a little bit here and there, and he's an amazing human being. He is where he's at right now, and I think it's really great for him to be making such creatively interesting music at 65 or whatever age he is, and I really tip my hat off to him for that.
He's always challenged himself, and I really admire that. I really like what Tony Visconti does, and I think the new one sounds a bit polished at times -- it's a bit too tidy for me overall in terms of production, I like the records of his that are more loose. Overall, I think it's really great. I like the song "The Next Day," and I liked the first single, "Where Are We Now?"