Huw Lloyd Langton is one of the U.K.’s leading rock guitarists and he’s recently released a new album entitled, “Hard Graft.” Just in case you are not aware, Huw has a rich and varied musical background. Huw joined Hawkwind as they were forming in the late ’60s/early ’70s and has been working with the band ever since. Hawkwind is in fact Huw’s ‘mothership,’ but other bands that he has worked with include Fox (later this name changed to The Whip). To read an album review of Hard Graft and learn more about Huw’s musical past, head here. To read R&RR’s interview with Huw, scroll down!
Q: After gaining so much experience with so many bands do you have any advice for all bands and musicians who are out there?
A: Keep banging your head against that brick wall and keep your mind open. Keep on doing what you do as long as you love what you are doing, but always keep your mind open and learn as much as you can!
Q: Can you tell us a little about your previous seven LLG releases?
A: Goodness, that’s hard! It started when I was approached by Frenchie from Flicknife Records at a Hawkwind gig. He suggested he had an amazing bootleg album from one of LLG’s gigs in London. He wanted to release it. I agreed. It was called ‘Outside the Law,’ but it soon became obvious the quality was appalling even though it went straight into the charts. We did try to get it banned, but it was too late. ‘Night Air’ was the next one. This also went straight into Top 10 of charts. As did the single ‘Wind of Change.’ All LLG albums were music outside Hawkwind material, in other words material that we – me and the missus Marion – had written, but we didn’t think would fit with Hawkwind material. Plus, when I was off the road, I got very frustrated. No big plan really, just to carry on working while Hawkwind were off the road – not so often as it happened! They were just spare ideas and music in my brain that I thought not suitable for Hawkwind.
Q: You are a true musical gypsy and a major part of the crew on board the mothership Hawkwind – Could you tell us a little about some of your other projects?
A: Hm! Well, they seem to just turn up. So many have been really enjoyable, including a stint in former Yugoslavia with Alexander John [Mezek] with Rob Rawlinson on bass and Richard Thomas on drums. So many up-and-coming bands have approached me over the years and that wasn’t a problem if I wasn’t doing anything. It kind of became a problem when all they actually wanted was to use me as the focal point to promote themselves and that was a strain. You have to earn your own merit in this musical world and not climb on the back of others. Nothing wrong with getting a name behind you because it is often how it works, but my back is pretty small! It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t and haven’t tried to promote other young artists.
I am currently working on an instrumental classical album. Mainly short 18th century guitar pieces. I am not a classical virtuoso, just happen to love some of the early guitar music. But gigs/projects I have been really pleased and honored to work on are with Michael Moorcock, Robert Calvert, Steve Swindells, Nic Potter, Batti Mamselle, Leo Sayer, but latterly the ‘PDT’ Killing Cancer project.
Q: Could you give us a little more info on the Swedish LLG?
A: Yes, that came about through a Swedish agent ringing me to say he would like to line up a series of acoustic dates with me and Luther Grosvenor as we both had quite a following in Sweden. Luther agreed and we rehearsed weekends for several months. It sounded great. Always like working with Luther. Then just before tour was to happen, Luther more or less went on the missing list. He did phone the promoter who phoned me to say he wasn’t doing it. I never found out why, but there you go. Anyway, the agent had spoken to Ray Majors (another Mott The Hoople Guitarist) and Ray was up for it. Thus, we got together and did the tour. It was very enjoyable, Ray’s a nice bloke and a very talented artist. We got on well! It was on this tour I met Lars, the drummer. He suggested I came over and re-recorded ‘On The Move.’ It became ‘On The Move Plus’ with blue bonus tracks. He also got together a whole band hence, LLG Sweden came about. I believe we toured twice there. One of these tours was in the dead of winter and all the pipes froze up in the house where we were staying at, including the toilet water. We had to dig our way out with a spade to an external hole in the ground! On the way to the airport, the people carrier ran out of petrol and the driver went on a mission to find a sled in a town nearby to go and get petrol. It was hilarious when we went through the town to see all the old ladies with large shopping bags on back of their sleds. Quite normal apparently.
Q: The song ‘PDT -Photo Dynamic Therapy’ makes its point beautifully – Could you tell us about PDT and what you have been doing for the Killing Cancer charity?
A: After Tim Rice Williams died of cancer shortly after completing his work on Hard Graft, we felt we needed to try and do something for cancer patients. Marion was working with Andrew Briggs at the time. A friend of Andrew’s had cancer and he asked Marion to try and find out about alternative or other cancer treatments as radio therapy and chemo had not worked for his friend. Marion came across David Longman from the Killing Cancer charity. Sad to say it was too late to help Andrew’s friend, but he was inspired to help raise funds for a PDT unit in University College Hospital. The PDT unit opened in 2007.
So when Tim died, Marion approached David with the idea of running an animation competition with various universities round the U.K. Actually this was Richard Gillespie (LLG bass player) who originally suggested it. So Marion picked it up and ran with it. Well, the rest is history and a lot of hard work. Marion toured the U.K. twice, both to present the project to students and then to monitor students work, but amazingly the whole project culminated in 8 top animations for Killing Cancer’s work. We held the awards day in London in March this year and then produced a free DVD of all the winning animations. Initially, these were to go out with the Hard Graft album, but this was delayed. Fortunately, various HMV shops round the U.K. took all the stock to give out with sales. This was fantastic and we felt we had achieved our aims to get the message out there. We have donated all the recording and publishing royalties from PDT to the Killing Cancer Charity … We also now have a dedicated section on our website where the winning animations can be downloaded free, so hopefully they will be able to continue promote awareness and support this important work.
Q: What are your hopes and plans for the future of LLG?
A: Good question. We hope to tour the U.K. next year and possibly Germany. Volker, the drummer, lives there so it would make sense. Geographically, Richard and Volker can’t do odd gigs with LLG, but I am fortunate in that I know some very good young musicians who can do odd gigs. Saun Longuira (bass) and Sam Wilkinson (drums), who I jammed with when I was living in Henley-On-Thames, came with me to do the Isle of Wight Hawkfest end of August. They were great and received well by fans. Micky Stanger also joined us, playing a double mandolin. I had worked with Micky in Doctor Brown. This was a great festival all round! LLG also have a live DVD from our set from the Hawkwind all-dayer, which took place in Leamington Spa on May 2. We hope to release this soon. Again, LLG were well received.
Q: Can you recommend any bands for us to keep an eye out for?
A: Well, two bands who I like come to mind – Muse and Radiohead, but they are both now well known, so probably don’t need the recommendation. But I like them! We both like Anubis, hence the collaboration with Sarah. Hopefully Anubis will become even more recognized, they are a great band.
Q: What advice do you have for all the budding young bands out there?
A: It is increasingly hard for young bands to even get started, get backing or anything else. I think having sheer determination helps, as does having someone good behind you. I have always advocated constant gigging and jamming whenever possible. It keeps the fingers and vocals flexed and hones ones craft, but luck also plays a large part in this business. But if you are truly talented and determined, doors usually open if you stick at it.
For more on Huw Lloyd Langton: http://www.huwlloyd-langton.co.uk/