"In lesser hands the songs here; about drinking, cheating and breaking up would be cliché country; but Grant Langston has such a clever way with words, melody and it has to be said a cheeky wit it all makes perfect sense." - Rocking Magpie Magazine
For Grant Langston the story is the thing. The honky tonking, the California country music helps make it fun, but when they're mopping up the dance floor at the end of the night he wants the songs to matter. "I spent a lot of time making music where I was screaming and yelling," referring to his 20-something grunge rock past. " At some point you want to tell a story and make something that can touch people. - make them laugh or make them cry."
His music a blend of California honky tonk, Texas boogie, with some dirty southern rock thrown in for flavor. Langston is mash-up. Born and stamped with a Alabama southerness that won't wash away. Living in California now, and taking that tradition to heart. Equal parts Lyle Lovett, Billy Gibbons, Jamie Johnson, Glen Campbell, and Dwight Yoakam.
The first Grant Langston record appears in 2000 and two decades of recording and touring have stacked up an impressive list of:
Film and TV placements - Multiple True Blood (HBO), Army Wives (ABC), Walker (CBS), Haven (SyFy), and award-winning feature film A Fistful of Karma.
Playing with/Opening for -Dale Watson, Asleep At The Wheel, Ben Harper, Band of Heathens, Drivin' N Cryin', Wayne Hancock, and Mike Stinson.
Fun projects too - Co-Founder of the production company California Roots Union, Co-Founder of wacky, all-star side-project The Jolenes.
The press has had their say:
The Guardian (UK) - "Willie Nelson and Gram Parsons? Sure. Grant Langston & The Supermodels are the missing link between trad C&W and the modern, "alt" variant." - Paul Lester
Maverick Magazine (UK) - “Country Music with the Sweat Stains Showing”, “Unyielding and Uncompromising”.
The Americana Music Show - “Grant Langston is a master of that California twang ...full of gritty stories, hi lonesome lap steel, and good shuffling rhythms.” - Calvin Powers
RNR Magazine (UK) - “Packed to the gunwales with booze, broken dreams and busted marriages” - Richard Hall
Rocking Magpie - "He’s channeling George Jones via Dean Martin and Robbie Fulks, providing the type of Country and Western Honky Tonk music people tell you isn’t made anymore…. it’s here.”
Turnstyled and Junkpiled - “equal parts grit, angst, and subtle musicianship " - Gerry Gomez
The new record is called Alabama (spelled "aLAbama" ) and it's all about the crossroads of Langston's music al life. He has one foot in the tradition and inspiration of his home state and the other in the hippest of hipster LA, where country music means something completely different.
"My last two albums have been concept projects. Los Angeles Duets was a collection of duets with my favorite songwriters , and Hope You're Happy Now was a record of ballads. They were pretty subtle and serious. The goal with Alabama was to make a big, friendly record that gives you a break from the world for 40 minutes. It's less intense than some of my past work, and easier to just grab a beer and sing along."
Of course it's still the same slightly off-center music brain churning out songs like, "As Is Sale", "Layaway", "Pure Grain Guarantee", Corporate Hack" and "How Much Do You Want?" - material that isn't going to end up on anybody else's country album.
It all started in the tiny town of Hartselle, AL -- north Alabama bedroom town focused on family, God and football. Langston grew up with a firm set of lessons in "real" country music. "My dad loved classic country, and I'm not talking about 1960's and 1970's, I'm talking the Carter Family, Sons of Pioneers, and guys like Merle Travis. I think when country music got to be about cheating and drinking, my dad was like, "Enough of that!" But it was all around, and learning to play music was also in the water at the Langston house.
“My mom played the piano and sang in the church choir and I really didn't have any choice in the matter. Church choir at 6. Trombone in the band at 9. Guitar at 10. Piano at 12. It sounds forced, and it was strongly suggested, but I loved it too. REALLY loved it.”
Fast forward 10 years after, a degree from Auburn University and Langston set his sights on making music full-time. He moved to Los Angeles just to time for hair metal. After a stint playing in a variety of sunset strip rock bands and as a sideman for artist showcases, he had moment of crisis. “I was primarily a guitarist for most of the 1990's - playing in bands and writing rock music for various singers. Once on a drive across country I picked up Nebraska in Pittsburgh and as I drove to New York City I just listened over and over. This is what I want to do. That experience made it clear to me that what I was running from was my past, the country music and the songs that I grew up with.”
He jumped in with both feet. The Los Angeles roots scene was largely hidden from mainstream view, but it was there. Lucinda Williams was breaking out. Randy Weeks, I See Hawks in LA, The Sweethearts of the Rodeo weekly show, and a collection of encouraging fellow players made it a great place to grow and learn. “I just started hanging out and making friends, and playing where ever I could. There were so many shows that a pretty good musician could use to get the reps to get better.”
From there things got very interesting. Four tours of Europe, six records, solo and band tours around the US, videos and music in TV and Film. Today Langston finds himself a veteran of the scene he's helped nurture for twenty years. "I still believe that for an artist the community is the most important piece of the puzzle. It can be tempting to skulk off to a farm in the country, but it's the ways you are nurtured and pushed by other artists, that's where the magic is for me."