Lamont Landers – Alabama born, redheaded, soul singing man. Started playing music at the age of 17 – started singing when he was 19. In college he met keys extraordinaire Kevin Canada and drummer Bowen Robertson and the Lamont Landers Band was formed. They play throughout the Southeastern U.S. and bring the joyous sounds of funk and soul music to audiences of all sizes. The band has a variety of influences including: Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Vulfpeck, D’Angelo, Sly & The Family Stone and many others.
Lamont Landers - Lead Vocalist/Guitar
Kevin Canada - Keys
Bowen Robertson - Drums
Jaraven Moe Hill - Bass
There’s a reason Lamont Landers’ music plays well on a mass-medium like network TV.
He has the kind of talent that, in the right showbiz hands, can make people rich.
Malleable warm vocals and pop-funk tunefulness give Landers perhaps the most breakthrough potential of any young Huntsville musician in recent memory.
And an appearance last spring on “Showtime at the Apollo”continues to change things for him.
Since performing on the Fox TV show, the Decatur native’s Facebook music page “likes” octupled, from about 3,000 to more than 25,000. “Apollo” also helped Landers score a slot this March at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater’s Bicentennial Bash, a daylong concert headlined by Grammy winner Jason Isbell and also featuring the likes of St. Paul and the Broken Bones. And yeah, every now again when he’s back in Huntsville, where he now resides, Landers, a bespectacled redhead singer/guitarist, will get recognized in public.
"I think back and we were in New York for like two weeks," Landers says of shooting "Showtime at the Apollo" with his band.
"But it just seemed like low stakes. Because you're hanging out with your friends, you don't think about the issue at hand."
On "Apollo," Landers and his band - keyboardist Kevin Canada, drummer Bowen Robertson and drummer Jaraven Moe Hill - wowed with their cover of Bill Withers' 1972 funk nugget "Use Me."
Landers followed that up late last year by released a standout self-titled EP of original tunes.
In addition to his natural wheelhouse of sinewy guitar R&B, as heard on single “Into the Fold,” the disc features forays into indie rock (“Devil in Disguise”) and even Americana (“The World Is Burning”). The EPs six tracks were pared down from a dozen or so cut over about three years, with producer/engineering Jeremy Stephens sculpting the sound at Decatur’s Clearwave Studios.
"I feel like Jeremy deserves everybody to know him like they know FAME or Muscle Shoals Sound," Landers says of recording with Stephens. "He does just as good of work, and I feel like he has an ear that's just unrivaled in North Alabama and I think he's got one of the biggest hearts in North Alabama as well."
On a recent afternoon, Landers was in Los Angeles to audition for another certain network TV talent competition, when reached for this phone interview.
Edited excerpts are below.
Lamont, who are some guitarists you draw inspiration for funk guitar playing?
Prince is definitely an influence. Spanky Alford, who's from the (Huntsville) area and is passed now but he was D'Angelo's guitar player - I'm not the best at it, but I try to see what I can do that parallels what he did. And my keyboard player, Kevin Canada, he's like a chord dictionary so if I ever have any questions about how things sound or they should sound I just ask him. He's a great reference.
When you're playing a bar gig, how do you feel out when's the right time to play a ballad during the set?
My rule of thumb is, you want to hit them with some upbeat stuff about five times, and then once they're wore out you can bust out a ballad. And then you've got to get right back at it, just slapping them in the face with energy.
What makes music funky? And what makes it unfunky?
It's a fine line. It's all about repetition, it's all about hitting it on the one, the downbeat is so crucial. And everything's almost like puzzle pieces, everybody's kind of playing off each other, that's what makes it funky. Being unfunky would be just to play just a straight-ahead chord progression and it's the exact same way every time.
You wear glasses onstage. Any good stories about mishaps from wearing them at a gig or anything like that?
Oh man, I've had many issues with wearing glasses. Going from when I was younger, in the places where you could smoke I would try to do like the Stevie Ray Vaughan and have my cigarette going and play while wearing glasses, and quickly realized that while it looks so cool it's not exactly functional, because the smoke kind of wafts underneath your glass and so your eyes are just burning. Another pair of glasses I had, they weren't fitted that well to my head so if I looked down they'd just fall off my face.
Which of the other bands at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater’s Bicentennial Bash impressed you the most that day?
Honestly, the best show was The Commodores. I don't want to put anybody out but I was blown away. It was like an old-school show. The main guys came out with their sequin jackets on, shiny, shimmering in the light, had the moves and the band was tight. I'd never seen something like that and those types of shows used to be everywhere - it was the dominant thing, putting on a show, like Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores, and you just do see much of it these days. It was interesting.
What rock bands have you been listening to or drawing inspiration from lately?
Um, I am not hip to really any current great rock bands but when I was in middle school I was an angsty teenager and of course I loved Nirvana. Loved Pearl Jam, the Foo Fighters, Soundgarden. So those influences have always been there. They’re just buried deeper than some of the soul influences are.
What's your relationship like with country music?
My relationship to country music is the same relationship I have with any style of music: if it's authentic then I can get down with it. One of the best shows I ever saw it was in Tuscaloosa, at that same amphitheater, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. I went in not expecting much and I came out blown away just by the awesome history and realness of it and how great each of them was on their instrument. And their craft. So, people like them. And nowadays you have Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton, who I think are the last troubadours of real country music. If it's telling a tale and you can feel it in your voice and heart and your song then I'm all for it.
So, you’re really not named for the character Lamont from (classic Redd Foxx sitcom) “Samford and Son”?
No man, apparently it comes from like a radio show in the '30s that my grandma used to listen to, because my dad's middle name is Lamont as well. I got it from my dad and he got it from her. After some character in a radio show or something in the 30s.
Do your friends call you Lamont, your middle name, or by Jordan, your first name?
Friends call me Jordan, all my bandmates, family. Nobody calls me Lamont. It’s all Jordan. It kind of gives me a veil of like secrecy if somebody says, ‘Jordan,’ then I know they know me and if they say, ‘Lamont,’ I’m like, ‘I don’t really know this person that well.’
So, it's kind of like caller ID is on a phone, a little bit.
CULLMAN, Ala. – “America’s Got Talent” contestant Lamont Landers brought his talent to a busy 412 Public House this week. It wasn’t the first time the talented Decatur native has performed at the restaurant, but it was first time since appearing on the popular television show.
The Tribune caught up with the soul and R&B singer to talk about his life, career and his experience on the program.
Landers was born in Decatur and graduated from Decatur High School before heading to college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Now 28, he and his wife, Amber, call Huntsville home.
Landers has a full band but said, “Sometimes when you have to make some money it’s easier to pick up solo gigs around town.”
The Lamont Landers Band appeared on “Showtime at the Apollo” several years ago, which Landers described as “really cool.”
He explained, “They (America’s Got Talent) wouldn’t let me bring the band, so it was just me. It was rough.”
Landers was scouted by AGT after the success of a few of his YouTube videos and caught the eye of the casting director. Landers received an email inviting him to appear on the show.
He said, “About 80% show up in hopes of making the show and 20% are contacted directly, at least that’s what I’ve been told.”
He said the experience was fun for the most part, but it had a downside, explaining, “It’s a little disgusting. Like someone tricking you out. It’s a little gross, but you trade that for the exposure.”
It wasn’t his first time performing in front of Simon Cowell, either.
He said, “I met him when I was 19. I did ‘The X Factor.’ but it never aired. He said that he loved my voice but ‘I wish it was in a different body’ when I was 19. This time I knew what to expect with him. He didn’t remember me at all. I didn’t want to give in and let him, because he does it to people all the time, he bullies them. He turns it up for the TV for sure.”
Landers performed “Dancing on My Own” on AGT and received a standing ovation from the audience.
He was praised by the judges with Gabrielle Union telling him, “I’m the president of the Lamont Landers fan club.”
He performed the song somewhat unexpectedly.
He explained, “I was about ready to leave and this producer lady said that Simon wanted to meet with me in private. I said I guess I’ll go upstairs and speak to him in private, and he recommended the song. I was super unfamiliar with it so I had to go learn it in 30 minutes. I had a guitar string break while I was learning it. Somehow, I got through it.”
Landers has been working in the music industry for close to a decade now and has no plans to stop anytime soon.
He said, “I only play the stuff I like. Like Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, a bunch of old soul, Al Green and old blues. There’s some contemporary R&B that I really like. D’Angelo is one of my favorite artists of all time. My dad listened to blues and my day was R&B so I got the guitar stuff from my dad and the soul stuff from my mom.”
Landers plays gigs wherever and whenever he has a chance.
He laughed, “I’ve done every gig you can imagine. I’ve done grocery store grand openings. If there’s a check involved, I’m there.”
The Lamont Landers Band is working on getting more opportunities in Nashville.
“We put out an original EP back in December. It’s on Spotify. It’s on anywhere you can listen to music. I am working on our first full-length album right now.”
Landers said he isn’t sure when the new album will be completed. He takes the song writing process seriously.
He said, “I’m trying to expedite the process and up my output, but writing is kind of hard. It only feels right if it comes to you organically. For me, I feel like if it comes too easy then it’s not good. If I have to pull teeth to get it to work, then it’s gotta be a good idea.”
He is hoping to have the album out before the end of 2020.
Landers said he doesn’t want to rush the process, but at the same time, he feels some pressure at the age of 28.
“I feel the grains of sand moving a little bit faster, especially as a musician,” he said. “There is a finite lifespan as a musician, so I’m trying to up my output and get out there on the road and do it the right way.”
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