Q&A: Andrew Langer of the Redwalls

The Redwalls (Patti Farfan)
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The Chicago-based band The Redwalls is currently touring the country in support of its self-titled album, which was release last October. With a sound that evokes British bands past and present and a look that does the same, The Redwalls are another in a long line of American acts that have tried to bring the sounds of the old country to our hemisphere. Are they having any luck? We caught up with Redwalls vocalist/guitarist Andrew Langer over the phone last week to get an answer for that and a few other questions.

How’s the tour going so far? It’s going pretty good, you know? In some parts we do good and in certain parts, we’re working our way, trying to do good there. But it’s been fun.

If someone's never seen you live before, what can they expect from your live show? We’re pretty much straight up rock and roll. A lot of people say we’re better live than on the records. [Laughs.]

Yeah? How do you feel about that? It’s a different interpretation. It’s fine with me.

Well, what’s that an influence of, the better live sound? Did you guys start of performing right away when you got together? Yeah, pretty much. When we started, we were playing in the clubs and bars of Chicago for like the first three or four years of being in existence. So, we kinda had to learn to deal with hecklers. We’d usually play at 1 or 2 in the morning after the headliner was already done. It kind of paved our way to this point.

Had any better luck with the hecklers of late?

[Laughs.] Well, you get them every night, but it’s interesting.

What’s the best heckle you’ve ever gotten? Or is there even such a thing as a good heckle? They just call out names of people and yell out "Keith Moon" and things like that. I don’t know. It’s just stupid. Stuff that makes absolutely no sense. Names of musicians and stuff that I’m like, “I have no idea what that means.”

Can you explain the history of your band’s name? Is it true you were originally called The Pages? We were The Pages when we first started for like two or three years. [The change] wasn’t inspired by us. We were on Capitol [Records] for a couple of years and, when we signed with them, there was actually a group called Pages that was reissuing their record like that year. They were like, basically, the Mister Mister of the ’80s. Pretty lame story. But to avoid any financial or legal advances, we had to change the name.

How’d you come up with the Redwalls? We just kind of stuck two words together, something that would draw some images to our minds. It’s nothing special, it’s just a name.

It has nothing to do with the children’s books about warrior mice? No, but like 99 percent of people think that! [Laughs.] You put our name into Google and it comes up as the Brian Jacques book or whatever.

Have you ever read those? No I haven’t actually. Maybe I will now. Maybe if I can afford it. [Laughs.]

So right now you’re out promoting the self-titled CD, right? Yeah. It came out in October. We’ve been on the road on and off, we started touring like three months before it even came out, so we’ve been out since like June, pretty much, on and off.

Would you agree that there’s a definite British tinge to your sound? Yeah. We like a majority of those groups. They’re a huge influence for us. And you opened for Oasis a while back, right? That must’ve been a huge get for you. Yeah, it was a really cool tour. They’re really cool people. We’re influenced by a lot of shit., A lot of it happens to be from overseas. But we’re still influenced by the early American R&B scene like with the Ronettes, the Supremes.

What about the Chicago scene? Seems like every band out and about in the music world now has a tie to Chicago. It’s kind of hard to say. We started the band like 8 or 9 years ago and the Chicago scene keeps changing. We’ve always had friends in bands, but a lot of them have broken up. We’re kind of like the last ones standing. There’s so many bands from Chicago, it’s tough to keep up with. But it’s definitely a diverse place for music, so it’s good to be around there. But we’ve ind of always been in a scene of our own in Chicago.

How long has this specific tour been going on? We’ve been on the road for about two weeks. And we’ve got another maybe two weeks left. It’s been good. It’s a lot easier being on a headlining tour, because people are coming to see you instead of the other headliners.

That kind of tones down the heckling then, huh? [Laughs.] For sure. It’s a lot easier to see how you’re doing, because usually every time we tour, we have more people coming. That’s our strategy: putting our music out there in front of people. -- Pete Freedman

The Redwalls perform Wednesday, February 27, at 9 p.m. at Lola's in Fort Worth.

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