Photo by Sanna Charles. Thanks to the Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow, East London
We hate to say we told you so, but if you haven’t seen Man Like Me perform somewhere by the end of the summer then you can’t really call it a summer. So far this year, Man Like Me—mild-mannered 21-year-old Camden pin-up Johnny Langer—has played about 12 gigs in London at places such as YoYo, Cargo, The Cock, Sketch and a squat party in Deptford and torn them apart with his nutty carnival electro routine where he weaves through the crowd and flirts with the girls (or boys, at The Cock). The next few months sees Johnny performing stacks of “guerrilla” gigs at the festivals and then support Madness in Europe. That kind of makes sense because he’s got this whole infectious Streets / Ian Dury / Damon Albarn / East 17 thing going on without even knowing it.
February’s low-key debut single, “Oh My Gosh”, was a gloopy bedroom blend of 90s one-finger rave riffs and psychedelic grime that’s so catchy it’s hard to believe no-one wrote it before. “It’s about being pissed off at the state of music that I saw on TV, all the bling bling videos and Cristal. Not just rap, everything,” says Johnny. It’s out again in September, on Spektrum’s NonStop label, when it’ll go Top Ten. His rappier new single, “Wine and Dine”, is one of the first songs he wrote in his teens. The guy he works with today, Marcas Lancaster, used to be his babysitter. “The new single’s about the paranoia of meeting up with a girl, going round to hers and having a bottle of wine and some food and trying to get down at the end of the night,” he says. “Insecurities, basically.”
Vice: You seem vaguely geezerish. You must have had a brush with the law, right?
Johnny: Only once and that was when a group of us got jumped by a whole crew of police officers when we were walking down the road in Kentish Town. We were walking along quite peacefully, then a whole riot van full of police swerved alongside us and swarmed on us, loads of them, and then searched us. I thought it was quite amusing ’cos I knew we didn’t have anything on us. Could have been a lot worse.
What does your dad think of your stuff?
He likes it, gives me a few pointers here and there. I went to watch him play last night in a small pub. He’s in a band called Deaf School. They’re a glam rock band, pre-punk sort-of-thing, quite theatrical and over the top, like Roxy Music. He formed them in the 70s when he was at university in Liverpool. They got signed but never really amounted to anything. They’ve got a big cult following though.
“Wine and Dine” is out in July on Nonstop records. Check myspace.com/manlikeme for upcoming dates and info.