Remember our song, "In The Meantime." Well, there’s only one thing worse than being a "one-hit wonder," and that's being a "no-hit wonder."
Over the years people keep coming back to the one thing that has so far defined us as Spacehog; that universal love song to the alien.
"In The Meantime" was the first song I ever heard my singer Royston Langdon sing. It is the song that convinced me I was in the presence of a rock ’n‘ roll superstar. It is the first song we ever recorded, at a jingles studio on West 57th Street in New York City in 1994.
In attendance was a teenaged Sean Lennon whose mom’s house we visited afterwards. We arrived at the Dakota, nervously filing past the spot where our idol was slain. I think I had only been in New York a matter of weeks – and there I was with Yoko's slippers on, playing one of John Lennon’s Rickenbackers.
"In The Meantime" was re-recorded in the Barn at Bearsville Studios near Woodstock, N.Y., the following year, upon us signing to Sire/EEG. The barn had been used by The Band and the Stones to rehearse in the '70s and was now kitted out with recording equipment appropriate for the baby bands of the ’90s alternative boom.
As a rookie rocker I kept all the Polaroids of the amp settings and took endless photos of my own of all the different drums I was using, not realizing how useful they would become in the years that followed.
Once the album was done, "In the Meantime" was voted to be the first single by band, management and label, alike. Setting off on tour supporting Tripping Daisy, the single quickly gathered momentum on rock radio. By the time we got to Seattle, there were more folks in the audience to see us than our hosts (which was a bit awkward).
By the end of 1995 we found ourselves making a video; Jake Scott had been drafted on the strength of his work with REM and Radiohead. He had this idea to recreate a scene from the film "Blow Up" with The Yardbirds.
I recall not being overly impressed with the idea or the execution at the time. But in retrospect I have to say that Jake nailed the zeitgeist of mid ’90s East Village bohemia. The clip went into active rotation on MTV and pretty soon the song was following us everywhere.
It was always going to be difficult to trump that initial flush of popularity, it being the culmination of so many factors. I was grateful of course, but also frustrated that other songs didn't get noticed in the same way. But it really was the gift that kept on giving. We were fortunate that it was used in a Mitsubishi car commercial later that decade. And just when i thought all the attention had gone away we got our re-record clause back!
I had heard about other bands doing this but never in a million years envisaged i would be doing the same: We were approached simultaneously by Guitar Hero and Rock Band, two video games popularized almost exactly a decade after we signed our deal. They were asking for separate tracks (drums, bass, guitar, vocals, etc.) as well as a finished mix of the song. Of course the record company normally owns the master recordings as what they call "works for hire."
But in our case we negotiated the right to re-record them after ten years. So back we went into producer Bryce Goggins' studio, now in Brooklyn, armed with my Polaroids and souvenirs from the "Resident Alien" sessions. We pieced together a re-cut of the hit, with near forensic attention to detail. We then delivered it as a brand new master.
The proceeds went on to fund "As It Is On Earth," a record we made at the same Brooklyn studio in a manner consistent with the olden days of major label recording budgets.
I'm not so sure we'll get as lucky funding record No. 5, but you never know, with a song like "In The Meantime," you can't rule anything out!
Jonny Cragg was born in Hythe England on July 18th 1966. Raised and educated in Yorkshire he chose Leeds as his spiritual home. Whilst at school he learned to play the drums, playing in local bands until opting to study Psychology at the University of East London in 1985.
Almost by accident his first job after graduation was back behind the drums for Leeds band The Hollowmen. They recorded four studio albums, signed to Arista Records, and toured extensively throughout Europe. A press trip to New York served to strengthen his resolve to move to the States, and that finally happened in the Spring of 1993. By the following year, Cragg had formed Spacehog with a group of Leeds expatriates in The Lower East Side: The group went onto sell millions of records, and tour the world to great success. He remains active in the group having made four studio albums to date.
Jonny is also a session musician, producer, writer, DJ and educator. His credits include: The Pierces, Supergrass, Edie Brickell, The Utah Saints, David Johansen and Richard Butler and Marty Wilson Piper, HBO, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
He has two daughters, Laila and Domino, and lives with his partner in Seattle.