Culture Dose: Q&A with Langhorne Slim

Happy to be in perpetual motion, the talented rocker pauses in the Pacific NW this Friday at Tractor Tavern.

We all have memories of a concert that forever raises the bar. For me: My first time seeing Langhorne Slim perform, back east in Arlington, Virginia. Raw emotion and palpable energy reverberated within the narrow, brick walls of Iota Club & Cafe. An intimately small crowd grooved along to the beats, captivated—all of us awed to be in the presence of such unspeakable brilliance. I had never experienced anything like it.

Photo by Todd Roeth

That night reminded me precisely why I seek out live music, and why I’ll go to great lengths to see Sean Scolnick strut his stuff any time he’s taking the stage in my town. Langhorne Slim & the Law recently released a new album, “The Way We Move.” On their website, Edd Hurt writes about the band’s most recent work: “It’s a spirited, inspired slice of real rock ‘n’ roll—exuberance meets hard-won experience in an explosive combination. David’s banjo and Malachi’s walloping drums add up to a new kind of folk music. The music drives, but there’s no loss of subtlety. And when the group lays into the garage-rocking “Fire,” with its funky electric piano and supremely callow lyrics about first kisses and the hot-burning passions of adolescence, it’s clear Langhorne is one of the great rock ‘n’ rollers of our or any time.”

We were lucky enough to recently catch up with Sean from the road, as he and his bandmates wended their way west for a show at Tractor Tavern this Friday, August 3. Here’s what the Pennsylvania-born rocker had to say:

Seattleite: Welcome back to the Pacific NW! Any cravings you’ll sate while back in this part of the country?

Langhorne Slim: I’m just excited to breathe in the air and take in the sites. If home is where you lay your hat… I’ve left several in the Pacific NW. It’s still one of my very favorite places to play and be.

S: Since moving from Portland a couple years back, you’ve been on the move, ultimately calling the road your home. How do you stay grounded while always on the go?

LS: It’s movement that grounds me. Stillness drives me insane.

S: Is this perpetual movement what inspired the title for your latest album?

LS: It’s about being beautiful freaks. Having crooked tails and shakin’ them.

S: You’ve gone through many significant life changes since your last album. How has this impacted your most recent music?

LS: I write from how I feel, so, in this case, I had a lot to write from. I made a deal with myself to be as honest and raw as I can be. So that’s what I did, and that’s what I’ll keep doing.

S: How did you approach the making of this album differently than those you’ve produced in the past?

LS: We recorded the record at Old Soul Studios in Catskills, NY. It’s a historic house owned by soul brother Kenny Siegle. We lived, ate, slept and recorded there for three weeks. We recorded all basic tracks live for the first time, which is one of the smartest things we’ve ever done. And we poured our damn souls into it.

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S: You often incorporate very personal experiences and raw emotions into your lyrics (of love, of loss, etc). How do you determine what you want to share and what sacred topics you want to hold close? Is anything off-limits?

LS: Nothing is off-limits. Be raw, and be real. That’s what the way we move means. The beauty is in the muck, my friend.

S: How do you try to connect with Pacific NW audiences versus those on the east coast, where you’re from? Do you find you need to bring different energy to the stage at different venues in different cities?

LS: No no. We do our best to throw it down wherever we are and hope that it gets picked up, if you catch my drift. Pandering to audiences is a dangerous prospect in my estimation. We have, however, always had a very special connection with our audiences in this part of the country. It’s a big reason why I lived out this way for a while. It’s always felt like a home.

S: What’s your favorite live performance you’ve ever watched?

LS: I gather it’s not exactly what you mean, but I’ve recently been watching old Muhammad Ali fights. He’s the best!

S: What’s your favorite show you’ve ever performed?

LS: We play a lot of shows. Whenever magic is in the air, it’s my favorite show.

S: What can Seattle fans expect of your upcoming Tractor show?

LS: A great show.

Friday, August 3 | Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. NW, Seattle  | (206) 789-3599