Given that we live at a time when some schmuck puts up a YouTube video and becomes a star, you gotta admire the way Langhorne Slim went about things. Unlike all those overnight sensations, he’s earned his fame. The guy’s gotten mad props for last year’s The Way We Move, a folk-rock album that Rolling Stone magazine said was “damn near perfect,” and started playing to bigger and bigger audiences. He and his band the Law perform at the Beachland Ballroom on Monday.
Slim, who says he’s been making music since he “popped out” grew up in the tiny town of Langhorne, Penn. (hence his moniker) and never quite felt in sync with the city where there wasn’t really any music scene to speak of.
“The scene was for me to feel slightly out of place,” he says. “It’s not fun at the time but it pushes you to find that outlet. I knew I was a feeling person. In not having a lot to do or relate to, I discovered a deep love for music and guitar and spent a lot of time listening and playing.”
He got the hell out of Pennsylvania when he was 18 and gravitated to a popular open mic night in New York. There, he met the guys in the off-kilter folk act the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow and struck up a friendship. They took him on tour and helped opened a few doors.
“I made great friends with them. Jason Trachtenburg supported us with his band The Pendulum Swings on our first show of this tour at the Bowery Ballroom [in New York],” Slim says. “It was very natural. It was the beginning of a life that I wasn’t trying to seek out living. It was just what I wanted to do, which is be on the road and write music. They were a national touring act. That was a dream. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to live and make a living doing this. They helped my self-confidence and gave me the opportunity to play in front of bigger audiences there to see them.”
That self-confidence really comes through on Slim’s latest album, The Way We Move. The album opens with the glorious title track, a tune with a rollicking piano riff at its center, and then delivers folksy ballads; Slim’s quivering vocals distinguish the tunes.
“It was unique for us and by far the most exciting and successful [recording session],” he says. “It was different for a lot of reasons. We recorded primarily live. I was accustomed to overdubbing. We did all the basics, including my singing, live. That’s what we should do for the kind of band that we are. The other part was that it was important not to do a traditional recording studio approach. We found an amazing historic house in the Catskills. We got to live in this house. We ate there and made music there. That was a really cool thing that I would like to continue doing. It’s as much of a communal recording experience as you can have.”
So how does Slim plan to follow up an album that was “damn near perfect”?
“I don’t know,” he says. “I didn’t say that. You follow it up the same way that you follow up whatever you do that somebody says is a good thing. We’re just doing our thing. To be very honest, I don’t have a lot of things. I love music and I write it and perform it and I travel in a smelly van with my best friends and we try not to get on each other’s nerves too much. We’re going to continue doing that. I hope more people will see us. I hope the van gets a little bigger and cleaner. Other than that, you just strive to keep getting better and more real with this thing.”