24/7 VALENCIA: Could you please tell us about your current Art Exhibition at Ubik Café?
JON LANGFORD OF THE MEKONS: I had a show at ‘La Batisfera’ in the summer while ‘The Mekons’ were over making an album and that went really well – there was even an acoustic Mekons show – our first gig in 3 years. Fortunately, there was enough material to warrant a second show at ‘Ubik Café’ and I wish I was there!!
Is Valencia like a second home to you now? What is your impression of it as a city to live?
I’ve always been fascinated by the history of the town – particularly recent developments regarding the discovery of mass graves from after the civil war and old people finally finding out what happened to their families. Spain seems like such a pleasant place but there is so much beneath the surface. Mostly, I spent time in Cabanyal which seems weirdly familiar to me as I grew up in a port town in South Wales – I like places where boats come in and leave again…
Please share something about the vision of ‘The Mekons’
The Mekons is a very long term project. It’s more like a family or an art collective than a band. It’s not something we depend on financially. So, we can do whatever we like… burrowing in the fringes of the music industry.
How does living in the United States compare to Europe?
That’s the shocking thing about being in Spain – a society not afraid to embrace worker’s rights, women’s rights, good healthcare, public services. USA is on death ride with people working two jobs to break even. The gap between the rich and poor is massive. Social services and healthcare are constantly cut in the name of rugged American individualism. Corporate capitalism runs everything there. I prefer socialism. I like the trams in Cabanyal!
What does country music mean to you?
It’s something that I loved before I moved to the States. It’s a branch of Folk Music that deals with working-class people’s lives. Drinking, cheating and death is the correct subject matter – but now it’s all God and trucks … it moved to the suburbs!
Tell us about your graphic design…
I think of myself as an illustrator and like the way my work falls outside of Fine Art or the commercial gallery world. As a musician and songwriter, I like the way I can bring art and music together in my work. I blur the lines a little and comment on the two worlds I inhabit.
Is Wales an influence in your work in general?
Very much so. I think it’s important to know where you came from and understand how that influences and informs everything you do. Newport is a rough little dock town ravaged by the economic ill winds of capitalism. I feel the disdain and neglect of the ruling classes/corporate overlords sets the playing field for my work… in both music and art.
Will you be returning to play music in Valencia again in 2023?
I seriously hope so. Should be there in spring. I have wonderful friends in town and love to spend time in your city – much more to explore.
Interview by Will McCarthy
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