Daddy Long Legs are on an epic multi-date tour of Europe, including exhaustive dates across the UK. What should you expect when you see a Daddy Long Legs show? See a full live review from Le Beat Bespoké Festival here. Their sound is often described as Southern revival blues due to the theatrical delivery of lyrics by Brian Hurd. Coupled with Hurd’s harmonica wizardry, the drunken stylings of drummer Josh Styles and dark blues riffs laid down by lead and slide guitarist Murak Akturk. The band agreed to take five with RockShot backstage ahead of their first scheduled London show of the tour.
You’re touring UK venues for a solid month, is it important to get recognition in the UK? “Yes, we grew up hearing bands from England, so yeah, it’s important to get recognition in the UK, but it is important to get recognition everywhere.”
You are thought of as a New York band, where are you all from and what led you all to New York? Josh Styles, leans back a little, “I’m a native New Yorker. We were all in different bands who dissolved around the same time.” Akturk clarifies, “We had all played together at different times, so it was good timing” Akturk has been based in New York for over twenty years, Hurd found his way there from his native Missouri.
All have been members of Daddy Long Legs for ten years. When pressed about what brought him from middle America to the Big Apple, Hurd mused, “I followed a girl to New York and ended up staying.” He certainly isn’t the first and won’t be the last!
What did you listen to growing up? Akturk explains, “Punk rock records, we all wanted to be in a punk band.” The others concur, punk had a big impact on all of them, which you can tell from the raw energy of their live shows. So why blues and roots music? “why not!” proclaims Hurd, “I listened to blues, like Howling Wolf, also punk.” Hurd also blows a mean harp; how did a punk rocker find his way to the harmonica? “I taught myself. I locked myself into my bedroom and played along to old blues records. I had been a bass player until it was time for something new.”
You’ve received some high praise from press and other musicians; most notably Rolling Stone Magazine and Lenny Kaye, as well as comparisons to early Rolling Stones and Lead Belly and a number of comparisons with Kentucky band The Legendary Shack Shakers. The band seem perplexed but unsurprised. “People have said that but, [musically] the Shack Shakers go all over the map.” Whilst this is true, they have explored a number of genres, the similarities are with the blues and both bands undeniably share a certain on-stage charisma as well as a dynamic harmonica blowing frontman.
Fielding this question Hurd points out, “We hadn’t even heard of them until we joined the blues and rockabilly circuit. We didn’t listen to their music.” The bands that have gone before have influenced them, but Akturk points out, “We may listen to Howling Wolf or Dr Feelgood, but we would never set out to write anything that was designed to sound like, say, Dr Feelgood. We would fail.”
Let’s talk about the music. The tracks from their new, third studio album Lo Down Ways, in particular, Pink Lemonade suggests a cleaner, more electronic sound, how did that come about? Hurd explains, “A lot of people have said that they thought Pink Lemonade was electronic, or that there are synthesisers on it, it’s all analogue.” This effect can only be down to extremely tight playing and super clean music mixing, which feels contradictory to the fuzzy mics and garage feel, it’s an intriguing combination.
How do you all write and create music collaboratively, are you able to you write on the road? They all agree when Hurd says, “We wish we could write on the road. We have to hold on to any ideas we’ve had while we’re travelling and try to recall what we can when we’re back home.”
Now that you’re are tour are you in each other’s pockets? Styles smiles, “Short of having a sexual relationship, we are in every part of each other’s lives.” Have you all had enough of each other? “Yeah, tensions have run high as a result of living in close quarters.” Hurd confesses, “We had a full-blown fist fight in the street the other day. We had to have that moment and let it die down.” What was that all about? The odd slightly sheepish word surfaces from each of them, “Nothing really.” “Something stupid.” “Don’t remember.” Given how copacetic they seem now it seems pointless to pick at the scab.
What’s the dream scenario for the band? Is there a special goal to be achieved, amazing venue, play with another band or feature a particular musician? Hurd is conclusive, “We’re doing it.” Everyone agrees enthusiastically, “That’s it right there” confirms Styles. “Although, regarding venues. If I could I would buy Brighton Pavillion and just live in it. Host all of our shows from there.”
What constitutes a great show for you as performers? They all agree, “Energy.” Akturk expands, “it’s when the energy gets everybody up and dancing. You can feed off the energy. We had a crazy show in a couple of countries like Ireland is always energetic.” Styles pips in, “Spain those shows in Spain, people went wild; there were people throwing bottles of beer over their heads.” They all laugh reminiscing about the joys of a rowdy, fun crowd. At this moment, these three men don’t seem worn down by life on the road at all. For those of you on the remainder of the tour route, y’all need to brace for impact.
Interview by Sarah Sievers and Portraits by Pauline de Silvestro with Daddy Long Legs, London, April 2019 as part of the Le Beat Bespoké festival.