Australia-based musician Jeff Lang has earned worldwide acclaim as a virtuosic guitarist, a dynamic songwriter and a startlingly unique live performer. Beat magazine declared, ‘In a world where music is diluted by money and plasticine, give thanks that Jeff Lang is out there’. He spoke with The Echo on the eve of his gig at the Mullumbimby Civic Centre.
We are excited to have you in Mullumbimby to launch the new album I Live A lot In My Head These Days. Can you tell us a little about the title and inspiration for this new work?
The title was suggested by a friend of mine in Canada. He’s a funny guy and the title kinda had a ring to it so I filed it away for future use. Once I’d made the album the title seemed to fit.
You have worked with some of the country’s finest artists. Tell us of some of your most memorable collaborations…
Certainly making the Dislocation Blues album with Chris Whitley is something I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of. He was one of the real ones, no doubt about it. Touring and recording with Don Walker is also a real highlight. He’s such a great songwriter.
Your last album Carried In Mind was a highly celebrated work – winning the 2012 Aria for
Best Blues & Roots Album, and Rhythms’ Album of The Year – as well as recently being listed in the News Ltd Australia’s Best Guitarist poll. What do these awards and accolades mean to you?
It’s a nice gesture to say ‘we think you’re doing good work’, so on that level they’re a lovely thing, and appreciated as such.
How do you approach songwriting? Do you tend your lyrics like a careful gardener, or do you like to let a few weeds run wild?
There are many ways to approach songwriting. I’ve done it both the ways that you describe and really, whatever gets the song over the line is what makes me happy.
You have become known for your rich, unique live performances, without set lists – allowing the energy of the room to shape the songs. What’s been one of your most memorable experiences with this approach?
On a good night with that approach of freewheeling the set it feels like the perfect song choice has been handed to you at the end of the previous song. The whole gig kinda breathes and expands almost like it has its own free will. That’s on a good night. Other times it can result in my standing at the mic scratching my chin for a couple of minutes. Ha-ha!
You will be joined by stunning singer/songwriter Ilona Harker. Who are some of your favourite Australian female artists?
I’m looking forward to hearing Ilona. Liz Stringer, Alison Ferrier, Suzannah Espie, Mia Dyson, Jen Cloher, Laura Jean, Courtney Barnett, Cat Canteri, Brooke Russell and Genevieve Chadwick are all fantastic and there are more. I could go on.
What can we expect from your Mullum show?
I’ll have Danny McKenna on drums and Tim Keegan on bass as well as the local boy – the legendary Greg Sheehan – playing percussion with us as well. We’re road ready from a month and a bit of touring and are really looking forward to playing in Mullum!
Friday at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall at 8pm. Tix and info: mullummusic.com or 6684 6195.