rarely is the outspoken jon Langford at a loss for words. But even for the prolific Mekons mouthpiece, the release of The Mayors Of The Moon (Bloodshot) disc just months after delivering critically lauded new albums from the Mekons and his boisterous Waco Brothers is an impressive feat of productivity. Of course, Langford can't take full credit for the righteously ripping Mayors Of The Moon disc, a collaborative project with popular local twang terrors the Sadies. He came up with the lyrics he growls with that unique "r"-rolling Welsh-Chicagoan drawl of his, but it's the quick-picking Sadies boys who provide the galloping soundtrack.
According to Langford, only the tune Strange Birds was written with the frantic fingers of the Sadies' Dallas and Travis Good in mind. The compositional challenge was less in the process of creation than in that of excavation.
"When I write songs, there's a well-defined area in my mind for what the Wacos do and what the Mekons do," Langford explains from his Chicago hideout. "Sometimes I end up with songs I have no idea what to do with, and those I would typically save for a solo album."
It was those song lyrics that didn't fit anywhere that he used for the recording with the Sadies.
"I literally found them lying around -- I was rummaging around the floor of my basement, picking up flood-damaged scraps of paper filled with blurry words. I gathered all those lyrics, shoved 'em in a Jiffy bag and handed it to the Sadies, like, OK, let's see what they do with these. That was it."
It sounds like an uncharacteristically hands-off approach for someone with Langford's reputation as a control freak. But that was a large part of the project's appeal. Once the Sadies had the songs worked out, Langford would just have to sing them. Piece of cake, right? Not quite.
"It was interesting for me to give up the reins. I wouldn't say I'm a control freak, but when I work with people, I'm hands-on and it's very much a collaboration from beginning to end.
"With this project, I just let the Sadies do what they do. I didn't even hear any of their song ideas until we met up at Travis's farm outside Toronto."
Langford was in for a surprise when he arrived. Because the Sadies like to keep everything spontaneous, they hadn't recorded any demos. Dallas Good had to sing Langford the songs so he could hear their arrangements.
"The idea of going into the studio not being that familiar with the material was a bit scary. Fortunately, Greg Keelor from Blue Rodeo showed up with an expensive bottle of port. That was helpful."
Considering the comfortable coherence of the results -- which benefit from the tasteful support play of Blue Rodeo's Bob Egan and James Gray -- you'd never guess that The Mayors Of The Moon was essentially completed during one heavily clouded booze-up of a weekend blitz.
"The session was a very Frank Sinatra kind of thing. I showed up at the studio, sang my songs, shook hands with the musicians and was off."
Since then, Langford has been back at work composing songs for the next Sally Timms album, which Timms has asked him to write from a woman's perspective. "I was thinking of plagiarizing heavily from a book of women's poetry," chortles Langford.
But lately most of his song ideas have been inspired by the looming threat of another Gulf War.
"Alarming things are going on in America. When you have right-wing militarists and CEOs of oil companies running the government, where better to attack than an oil-rich country like Iraq?
"Mussolini said fascism should really be called "corporatism,' because it's the merger of corporate and state power. That sounds exactly like what we've got now."email@example.com
THE WACO BROTHERS with the SADIES featuring JON LANGFORD at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Monday (January 27). $10.50. 416-598-4753.