Jonny Lang was a 15-year-old blues guitarist and singing prodigy when he burst on the national scene in 1997.
He’s moved through different phases over the last 20 years, including various rock-inspired repertoire and vocal-based soul.
On his last studio album, 2013’s Fight for His Soul, Lang settled into an assured sound that combined elements of everything he’s done. On his next album, still untitled and due out sometime in the spring, Lang continues settling into himself while also harking back to his early days.
“My idea going into recording was for more of the songs to be riff-based—to have the guitar be a bit more of a centerpiece than it was on my last couple of records, and I think we’ve done that,” Lang says. “The guitar is always in there with me, but it’s more central again on these songs.”
Lang’s gear on the upcoming album include a Fender Telecaster, a Gibson 335 and Gibson Les Paul, all clean and direct—mostly into a vintage 5-watt National 1210 amp.
“My buddy Matt who engineered the album brought in this amp, and I couldn’t believe how this little thing with an 8-inch speaker had the most insane, wonderful sound,” Lang says. “I tried it for one track and just kept playing through it and switching guitars for variety. The sound dictates where you go with your playing, and that amp really spoke to me.”
Lang says his love for the guitar has deepened and expanded his horizons after touring as part of the Experience Hendrix show almost every year since 2008; he will return to the road with them this February and March. He has met, observed and played with Buddy Guy, Eric Johnson, Robby Krieger, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai and others on these tours, all of whom have deeply inspired him—as has digging deep into the church of Jimi.
“You think you know Hendrix songs and then you really learn them and discover complexities,” says the guitarist. “He’s uncopiable, so the lesson is, be yourself.”