Interview with Lenny Lashley | By John B. Moore | Photo by Jason Tankerley
One need only look at the cover of the latest album from Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One to get an idea of the theme that runs throughout. In stark black and green, a close-up of the Statue of Liberty gazes out, with the title All Are Welcome across the bottom.
“It’s critical to me that this great nation, this ‘land of opportunity’ remains devoted to its values and continues to be a place where all people can have an opportunity to live a better life,” says Lashley, who is also a guitarist for Street Dogs and formerly fronted Darkbuster.
All Are Welcome, which champions diversity and the strength of immigrants, came out via Pirates Press Records on Feb. 15. It’s the Massachusetts band’s first full-length in nearly six years.
“I had always hoped another Gang recording would happen but never thought about the ‘how, why, when’ part of it,” Lashley says.
“Fortunately, Pete Steinkopf [of The Bouncing Souls] is a great friend, producer, and motivator who apparently, for reasons beyond my belief, likes to work with me and would not let me procrastinate any longer,” he laughs. “I’m also very fortunate that [Eric] ‘Skippy’ [Mueller] and Pirates Press Records was willing to put it out.”
Despite the band’s moniker, Lashley never really goes it alone—save for the solo shows he occasional plays.
“Regarding recorded works, I’m always just a part of a collective of talented folks who believe in the music enough to help me try to get songs to sound the way they should. Working with other gifted people is most certainly my preference,” he says.
Returning to the many songs that make up All Are Welcome, there is certainly a thread woven throughout the record, a reflection of our current political and cultural moment in time.
“It most certainly is fatiguing that, as a species, we haven’t figured out how to live together and not still have the same bullshit ‘we are better than you ’cause we got more’ or ‘because our skin’s a different color than yours’ or ‘the god of our belief is more righteous than whatever you believe in’ type stuff for sure—in fact, it’s even a little pathetic,” Lashley says. “However, it’s a reality unfortunately, so I guess it’s better than writing only about how bad I feel about my own largely not-so-bad life. And like they say, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it!”
As for what’s next, Lashley says he’s just trying to take one day at a time and hopefully “keep playing music and doing it justice.”
Street Dogs are playing a set at Punk Rock Bowling in late May, and later, they’ll jump on Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise in November. As for Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One, “to quote some guy who used to be a pretty good leader in a pretty good punk band, ‘the future is unwritten,’” Lashley says. Lashley is also playing a solo brunch set at Punk Rock Bowling, so don’t sleep!