Former Spacehog Front-man Royston Langdon Talks Analog Recording and Surviving The 90’s
Words by Audra Tracy
Every self-respecting child of the 90’s had a mixtape with Spacehog on it. If you weren’t blasting their hit album, Resident Alien, on your boombox, you were definitely grooving along to the video for ‘In The Meantime’ on MTV. But, you’ve changed a lot since the 90’s, right? Well, so has Spacehog’s former front-man, Royston Langdon.
Now, over two decades since Spacehog lit up the charts, Langdon is back at it again, set to release a new solo album on May 4. This time, under the moniker LEEDS, he is less about flash and more about feeling. The new record, entitled Everything’s Dandy, plays out like an introspective collection of deeply personal songs, inspired by his storied life in New York City.
Leading up to the album release date, Langdon chats about Everything’s Dandy, copying The Ramones, and how he survived the 90’s…
Congrats on the new music! Tell us about your upcoming solo album, Everything’s Dandy. Is there an overall message that you hope to convey to your listeners? Is there a special meaning behind the album title?
RL: Thanks very much! No, not really. I imagine people will take from it what they wish. What do you think it conveys?
You romanticize the analog recording process, referring to it as capturing “the simplicity and innocence of a sound”. Do you think digital production can rob the ‘soul’ from a piece of music?
RL: Yes. I’m a romantic. Like light is impressionistic when it reacts with analogue film, the same thing happens with sound when its applied to think tape, vacuums, tubes and big wires etc. Something altogether transcendent happens. It’s that simulacrum that interests me. I’m not really an analogue nut per se, it just feels better for the kind of sounds I like to feel personally. Works better for the kind of music I record. Digital editing can often make for very ‘flat’ recordings. Copying the same ‘perfect’ loop in order to make something ‘perfect’ is obviously going to make the whole song sound ubiquitous. That’s contrary to the human experience and therefore less likely to strum one’s heart and soul.
You were an intern at Baby Monster Studios in NYC during the mid-90’s. Do you have any tall tales to tell about that experience?
RL: Started off as an intern. Ended up a member of staff on a whopping five bucks and hour I’ll have you know! Was the best time of my life in many ways. I pretty much lived there. Dinosaur Jr., Cypress Hill, Pavement, Mike Watt. So much great music. Characters. It’s how I met Evan Dando. They gave me the keys. Made my own recordings in the wee small after hours of the mornings that would become in large part ‘Resident Alien’. Slept on the couch for a few hours and did it all over again when the morning session arrived. Highlight was probably The Ramones. Hearing how they did it. They really had ‘it’ you know? I would study and ultimately copy Johnny’s guitar sound for the’ In The Meantime’ chorus. Had my feelings hurt though when Daniel Rey asked me to leave the green room so Joey could ‘do some vocal warm ups’. Hilarious.
How would you compare working with Bryce Goggin during your Spacehog years versus working with him now on Everything’s Dandy?
RL: In our lives sometimes we meet our angels. I met Bryce at Baby Monster Studios, he was the main house engineer before even Spacehog. I’d often assist him. He’d buy me breakfast, an egg and cheese on a roll and a cafe con leche when 14th street still had bodegas. He kept me alive. I was broke. He’s still keeping me alive. He’s a producer, a patron of the arts. That hasn’t changed.
Would you say that your relationship has evolved over time?
RL: I think we’ve both devolving at this point. Thankfully. You’d have to ask Bryce for a sensible answer. All I do know is, I trust him, implicitly. That’s a priceless asset when one’s so vulnerably exposed in perpetuity.
Obviously the scene in NYC has changed dramatically since you moved there over 20 years ago. Are any of your favorite old haunts still around?
RL: Yes, tons. I’m not so interested in hanging out in bars these days so I wouldn’t know about those but most of our favourite restaurants have survived. My New York’s personal to me so I’ll keep it a bit mysterious if that’s okay (for personal reasons). The Hudson will never die.
Based on the content your new album, you seem to be pretty humble and grounded these days. How did you escape the typical trappings of a 90’s rock star and go on to become a well-adjusted adult?
RL: I did my time in the jail of rockstardom. Fortunately, I found my spiritual exit. New York has a funny way of handing down it’s sentence in humility one way or another sooner or later. Honestly have no idea why I got so lucky, why I’m alive and others aren’t. It’s literally a miracle to me. I’m a miracle to me.
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