Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Jonny Lang

Jonny Lang (Photo: Courtesy of Piper Fergusson)
Jonny Lang (Photo: Courtesy of Piper Fergusson)

Jonny Lang (metaphorically) blew up his house and didn’t just survive through it – he made new fans to whom he can tell his tale. The 33-year-old Grammy Award-winning blues musician hadn’t put out an album in seven years before releasing Fight For My Soul in September 2013. The lead single from the album, “Blew Up (The House),” set the stage for a departure from the sound of his previous albums, which is something Lang said he needed to do.

“That song in particular is about starting over – whatever that might mean for the listener, hopefully they can relate to that,” Lang said. “Then for me on two different levels, personally and musically (in certain ways with my career), that’s definitely what’s it about – blowing it up and starting over again. And then that’s kind of the sentiment on the album itself.”

Lang said his absence from the studio was mainly due to his desire to be a good parent – Lang and his wife Haylie Johnson have had four children since his Grammy Award-winning album Turn Around came out in 2006.

“[There’s] a few reasons but probably the one that governs [them] the most was the just fact that I had children. I have four children now…we tour a lot and if I would have made an album during that time it would have meant not being at home at all,” Lang said.

“I didn’t want to be that dad that’s just never there and leave my wife at home with our new babies and so I decided to give it a rest.”

It was almost 20 years ago when a then 14-year-old Lang independently released his first album Smokin’ with the band Kid Jonny Lang and The Big Bang. Literally and nominally, he was a kid, but he was also about to be become the next superstar blues musician.

In 1997, Lang put out the multi-platinum album Lie to Me with A&M Records, which was his first major label release and critical success. Lang said the biggest change since that period of his career came after he had children.

“I had an immediate just sort of arresting of my selfishness and having to do away with that, having to be a dad, be a responsible dad was crazy for me for a little while there…[but] I was really excited to have kids and was really positive about it,” Lang said.

“I didn’t see that it would impact me so greatly in that way so but once I settled into it it was everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s a life changing thing for anyone to have children and it definitely was for me.”

Lang has been on tour since the record came out and said the new record has been “well-received.”

Earlier this summer he went on a 17-city European tour and began a U.S. tour last week. He’s scheduled to play this Sunday, Aug. 17, at The State Theatre.

“We’re getting really great reception [in Europe] and it seems like coming back here there’s a lot of folks coming out to the shows and having good things to say about the record. It’s about as good as you could hope for.”

Lang said he has been surprised by the success of the record, which reached number one on the Billboard Blues chart and number 50 on the Billboard Pop chart.

“Yeah, that was crazy to me,” he said. “I didn’t expect that at all and it’s just a little bit shocking but I’m happy obviously that it did do well.”