Jonny Lang: Balancing fatherhood and music was a challenge
Photo by Piper Ferguson
It's been said that the human body's cells regenerate every seven years, so essentially we are different people than we were those seven years ago. Thus, it's fitting that Jonny Lang is finally releasing his latest album, Fight For My Soul, after seven long years. It introduces a newer, more mature side of the musician that was discovered when he became a father.
The record drops today, the day before Lang's show at the State Theatre on Wednesday. Before his defining week, which has Jonny returning to Minneapolis -- a place he still endearingly calls home despite taking up residence in California -- Gimme Noise spoke with the singer on how he found the time to make an album while raising a family with four children all under the age of five.
Even though he had vowed never to name an album after a track again, at the last minute Jonny picked "Fight for My Soul" because he felt it summed up the general sentiment of the record. He says, "The song itself is a bit autobiographical for me, so I felt it was a fitting title."
Part of the reason that it's taken so long for Lang to put out new music is the shift in priorities with family life. He continues, "It wasn't so much that I felt now was the right time to release the album as much as it was just how my life has been the last 5-10 years. It was difficult to find the time to make the record. With my kids, I was traveling so much, so I didn't want to come home and say, 'Okay, I'm leaving again to go make an album and just never be home.' It was a challenge to figure out and balance."
Some songs were written right after his last album Turn Around, but the lyrics were only penned a few years ago. Jonny shares, "Musically, the arrangements and melodies were all there, but I chased the lyrics for a long time. I finally finished them up when it came time to record them for the album, so even though I sat on these songs for so long, I still relate to many of them and connect to much of what I'm saying."
The talented blues guitarist is only 32 years old, but has shared the stage with many big names such as the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, BB King, and Jeff Beck. Being around such prominent artists and having such a talented backing band has helped the musician step up his game since getting his break at 16 with Lie to Me when he was living in Minneapolis, following a subsequent move from Fargo. He laughs when he says that his life would have taken a different turn had he not been so fortunate. "Playing with better artists has made me a better artist. I feel if I were to have been in my room just practicing, that would have led to a different outcome."
Each artist has a different definition of success, but the same theme runs true that they are always striving for something more. Jonny humbly says, "I've reached some of my goals and some are still the same. It sounds really conceited, but I'm really just making music, and hopefully it's music that people can relate to. That's a blessing to me." Outside of music, Lang has a difficult time defining what success means to him. After a lengthy pause, he pinpoints his source of happiness as being a father. He continues, "I'm proud of having a family and getting to discover that side of life, but besides that, there's nothing I can stand back and say, 'Man, I'm really proud of this.'"
Something that Jonny can be proud of is his collection of new songs from Fight. After seven years, Lang has 12 new songs to add to his setlist each night, even though he admits that the songs from his prior albums still seem new to him. "There were times when I felt I've been playing these songs for so long that I didn't want to play them anymore, but my band and I try to change the songs here and there to keep it interesting. Live music is different for me every time anyways; when I'm in front of an audience is when I am most comfortable. I feel it requires the least thought for me [laughs], and it's great to have people there and be able to share something with them. It's an awesome exchange, and I feel like everyone's included in the experience."
Jonny Lang will be at the State Theatre with Honor By August on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.
AA, $43.50-$53.50, 7:30 pm
Student/Educator Rush available ($25) with valid ID.
Purchase tickets here.
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