I vividly remember the release of Spacehog’s debut album, Resident Alien. I was just in fifth grade, but had already spent the better part of my life familiarizing myself with the more abrasive side of popular music. I enjoyed the “alt rock” scene/epidemic… but it was all kind of the same… and then came these sassy, flamboyant blokes from Leeds… Royston and Ant Langdon, Jonny Cragg, and Richard Steel… who were as well known for their explicit androgyny and popular personal affairs as their music… a quality that seems to be lost among recent generations of musicians. Well, these lads relocated to NYC and came up with a sound that was able to imbue alternative rock and the sounds appreciated by the Lollapalooza crowd with a heavy dose of 1970s British glam rock… something brilliant, sexy, and new to a young boi who was destined for the life of a, well, “resident alien” (Mind you, Placebo was yet to exist and not a lot of 10-year-old Yanks had access to the likes of Suede.) Their debut produced single “In The Meantime,” which went on to become, surprisingly, one of the 90s’ biggest anthems (To this day, I’m not sure how Spacehog are not currently playing arenas.) They released another two albums, The Chinese Album in ’98 and The Hogyssey in 2001 (Which I contend is likely one of the ten best albums of the century, thus far.) But then they went on a hiatus. While they all stayed in the world of music, pursuing various projects (many of which were quite good and had numerous of the members collaborating), Spacehog was no more. They had a few brief reunions in 2008 and 2009, but in 2011 they announced that they were actually going to re-enter the studio as a band (Sadly, sans Ant… who has gone on to other pursuits, but is still loved and adored by fans and band alike.) Since then they’ve been sporadically playing brief jaunts (They hit up one of my favorite Philly spots, Milkboy, last year.) But, finally, after twelve years, they have a new album, As it is on Earth, which was released April 16th, which they seem to consider to be the most “Spacehog” Spacehog release yet and they hope to spend 2013 promoting this new, unique aesthetic of theirs’. They have a number of dates planned and are hoping to have quite a few more in the near future. The last time they played the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection they opened the Phillies’ “90s Retro Night” at “The Bank” last summer (which you can see below). However, next Friday, May 10th, they’re playing the much more intimate and much hipper Kung Fu Necktie for what I’m guessing will be one of the 215’s best shows of the year. I recently got a chance to chat with drummer Jonny Cragg about what you can expect of one of the greatest bands of the 90s in 2013.[youtube http://youtu.be/WiDyll4oSXs]
Izzy Cihak: Since this is a Philadelphia-based publication, I’m inclined to ask: What are your thoughts on the city? You’ve played here numerous times throughout the years, both as “Spacehog,” and in various other projects. Any particular favorite venues or favorite experiences?
Jonny Cragg: I remember a pretty rambunctious 30th birthday party at the Electric Factory on the Summer Land Tour in ’96, we got into it a bit with local faves God Lives Underwater at the TLA, and playing on the field at the Phillies’ stadium on game day with a giant green bird playing air guitar was downright surreal.
IC: How would you describe As it is on Earth, your first proper release in over a decade?
JC: I guess it reflects more where we are at as people, thematically, and musically (hopefully) conveys some assured-ness that comes from a band that have played together for a long time.
IC: What’s the biggest difference between Spacehog in 2001 and Spacehog in 2013?
JC: No Ant.
IC: What were the album’s biggest influences and inspirations, whether musical or otherwise?
JC: They change and evolve. I think we were united around a love of Queen and Bowie, etc. in the beginning, but now I think it’s more a matter of finding one’s own voice.
IC: Are there any contemporary musical artists that you find to be especially interesting or inspiring?
JC: Plenty. Liking the Wild Beasts, Tame Impala, and Steven Wilson at the moment.
IC: What are your plans and goals for the rest of 2013, whether in relation to music or leisure?
JC: We’d like as many opportunities as possible to promote the new record that we’ve worked so long and hard on. If that takes us to some cool places, all the better!
IC: You’re going to be back in Philadelphia on May 10th at Kung Fu Necktie, one of the city’s coolest indie venues. What can we expect of the live experience?
JC: We just learned a few more of the new ones, so it feels like being a new band again, well, almost…