USA Today Premieres Jon Langford's New Single and Video for "Drone Operator"
New Album Here Be Monsters Out
April 1st via In De Goot Recordings
March/April Tour Extended Into May
Here Be Monsters, the new album by Jon Langford and his band Skull Orchard, finds the acclaimed musician and visual artist scanning the outskirts of popular culture, its title born of medieval cartographers term for the dragons, sea serpents, and other mythical beasties that reside beyond the boundaries of the known universe. Set to be released on April 1st via In De Goot Recordings, the album sees the Welsh-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter/bandleader/producer/painter/poet plotting a clear-eyed, sharp-elbowed course through such far-flung subjects as alternative hierarchies and astronomy, perpetual war for perpetual profit, the culture of detachment, middle age, fatherhood, fame, and the fleetingness of love.
Earlier this morning, USA Today premiered the track and video for the new single "Drone Operator," which you can check out HERE.
The audio and video versions are unique from one another. The video is a collaboration with Moroccan filmmaker Hassan Amejal (who also sings on the track as well) and this version of the song is different from what will appear on the full length Here Be Monsters. The idea here was for Langford and Amejal to create a short film of sorts with their collaboration on the song as a part of the narrative. The version on the album is Langford and Skull Orchard's audio vision of the song.
A seething broadside, “Drone Operator” suggests that raining death from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles named “Reaper” and “Predator” might create a few “boundary issues” in their joystick-wielding, computer-jockey pilots. "The song asks 'What sort of warrior kills from the comfort of the office and then what do they do afterwards?'" says Langford. "It implies that anyone in that line of work (state sanctioned stalking and murder) might have some boundary issues in their personal life." Langford continued, stating that “The drone operator is going to be one of the iconic symbols of our age. The toothpaste is out of the tube, and like the atom bomb, it’s all very well when we’vegot it. It’s a very negative development, which is an extremely nice way of putting it.”
Jon Langford and Skull Orchard's path for recording Here Be Monsters was deliberate and drawn out over a three year period, with most tracks recorded at Chicago’s Kingsize Sound Labs with engineer/mixer Mike Hagler. “When we did Old Devils,” he says, “I just forced everyone into the studio. I didn’t play anyone much of anything beforehand. With this album, we really took our time. I thought, the last thing the world needs is a half-formed Jon Langford album, so we won’t put something out until it’s actually finished.”
Langford devoted equal energy to the distinctive paintings that color and complement Here Be Monsters, marking the album as perhaps the most complete unification of his dual creative careers as musician and visual artist. Copies of the CD will feature a unique piece of artwork specific to each track printed on individual inserts. To be sure, the artwork that accompanies the collection reveals such remarkable cohesion of sound, vision, theme and purpose.
Having been raised up in the crucible of punk’s "Year Zero," Langford has always shown a remarkable capacity for self-starting reinvention, the hallmark of any true outlaw hero. More than anything else, Here Be Monsters is his celebration of life on the margins, of living slightly south of the border on the edge of the world.
“For me, it’s always been, ‘Do something, do it yourself, anyone can do it,’” Langford says. “That really permeates with everything I’ve done. It’s a bit like the very roots of punk – you can decide what you are, you can decide what your life is. You can think about things in totally different terms if the things you’ve been told are the points of the compass are things that you create yourself.”
US Tour Dates
March 13 - Austin, TX @ Gingerman (SXSW)
March 15 - Austin, TX @ Yard Dog Gallery (SXSW)
March 21 - Madison, WI @ Kiki's House of Righteous Music
March 22 - Carbondale, IL @ The Old Feedstore
March 23 - Chicago, IL @ The Hideout (Hometown Record Release Party)
April 3 - Cambridge, MA @ Atwoods Tavern
April 4 - Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House
April 5 - Rehoboth Beach, DE @ Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats
April 6 - Arlington, VA @ IOTA Club & Cafe
April 7 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
April 8 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird
April 9 - Newport, KY @ The Southgate House Revival
April 14 - Berwyn, IL @ FitzGerald's w/ Dave Alvin
April 15-17 - Chicago, IL to Portland, OR @ Roots on the Rails Train Trip w/ Dave Alvin
April 18 - Portland, OR @ White Eagle co-headline w/ David Olney
April 19 - Seattle, WA @ The Stables
April 20 - Vashon Island, WA @ The Cone Gallery (Free Acoustic show with art)
April 21 - Port Townshend, WA @ The Cellar Door
May 1 - New Orleans, LA @ Le Mieux Gallery (Free show)
May 17 - Portland, ME @ Last Church on the Left
May 18 - Peace Dale, R.I. @ Roots Hoot House Concerts