The day after his show at La Mécanique Ondulatoire, Jeff Angell, member of Walking Papers, came to present his new solo project, Jeff Angell’s Staticland. A cool and direct interview.
You came last night for a show in Paris. How was it?
Jeff Angell (vocals/guitar): It was good, it was a kind of surprise show for the fans, so we came here before the press. A lot of familiar faces, most of the people that I knew from the Internet, so, it was good. Too many stairs (laughs), a lot of stairs to go up and down into the club. We kind of grew into one person, afterward you feel like a family. I’ve played all the new album, that’s why I was excited.
This is your first solo album. What does Jeff Angell’s Staticland mean?
Jeff: The name is The Staticland but who is The Staticland? I don’t have a lot of patience, I move, I’m always doing something different. So, they said: “Man, we’ve got to put your name so that all the fans,from these different bands can connect things”. That is why there is my name in it. But I’m difficult, I don’t want to call out my name because I feel like it isn’t respectful to the other players. It gets to be even more complicated if in the future the band catch on, it can just lose my name or whatever, it’s just the people we are working with who use that. Now everybody tries to make things about a brand, so they can promote it. I’m a musician, I’m not a brand, I don’t even think about the name, I think about the music.This name is a funny art name to work with.
Who are the musicians you’re working with?
Jeff: I work with Benjamin Anderson, he plays the keyboard and he plays the bass as well, I played with him in two others bands, Walking Papers and The Missionary Position. And then Josh, I played with him when we were kids and he stopped playing music, he is the best drummer I know, but he went into create a business, he did really well, really successful as a business person, and I think as a music player, he didn’t like all the fact of being poor, travelling and not making a lot of money, be away from confortable bed… So he created a lifestyle for himself to work, he doesn’t have to rely on music. And so it was the inconvenient of this. but I’ve always been friend with him so I called him. It’s almost like a crime against humanity he’s not playing drums because he’s very talented ! Now, we are able to play together again. He hasn’t played for ten years. It’s awesome.
How was the recording process?
Jeff: This is the first record that I’ve made with a producer, I usually do it myself. We went to Nashville and we were in a Airbnb house. So we lived in a house and the producer had a studio. A lot of people don’t know that in Nashville, most of the studios are in houses. And they have neighbourhoods where every house is a recording studio. So you can have like Bob, producing Pink Flyod, he has his studio in the house and then you have another guy over here. It looks like a neighbourhood, it doesn’t look like a business. The studio we recorded in was a house, and it was the house of the guy who did Jack White’s The Dead Weather’s record, I really like The Dead Weather. He is also the guy who produced The Kills. I like those records so that’s why I’ve chosen this producer and he liked the songs so he was happy to do it. Sometimes I feel like a lot of the stuff I do, their association is putting the 90’s grunge with the hard rock, but this is not really the kind of music that I listen to. i listen to indie or alternative rock. But maybe I’m too heavy for indie and not heavy enough for heavy metal so I’m kind of in my own category.
The song “High Score” has got this kind of back to the 90’s vibe. You still have this good old sound, but you make it sound modern. How do you do that?
Jeff: I think some people just want to hold on everything from the past, and I think it’s not good, it’s old fashion. If you take The Rolling Stones, when they were a band, they tried to be the most modern band they could be, but they still loved the blues, but even if you take “Satisfaction”, they put the distortion pedal and made that sound, it was totally the most futuristic thing anyone has ever heard at that time. I don’t want to be a retro artist, be a band trying to sound vintage, but I want to keep the quality and what was good about that and bring it with me into the future. I like everything from Godflesh to Pantera. And I try to put all those things together. If you mix things together, you can create something new. If you keep getting all your inspiration from all of the same places, it starts to stagnate. It’s like people breeding, if people don’t mix different elements, it becomes unhealthy, because you get different immune system, it’s in your DNA, if people are in the same family, and from the same village, they are never going to get stronger, you know what I mean: when people diversify and go to another place, they stay fresh.
Do you have a favorite song on this album?
Jeff: Yeah, I like “I’ll Find You” and “Let The Healing Begin”, probably my two favorite.
Jeff: I like “I’ll Find You” because I think it’s a romantic idea of people, if they die and then if there another life where they still find the same person, and continue on this life. It’s dark, because dying is involved, but I like the idea of connection, not religious connection, but the idea that love is the connection. So I think it’s a beautiful idea when usually most of my songs are negative, and I like to hear it because it’s a soul basic. I think it’s a perfect simplicity, anybody can play it, the melody is very simple. Most of the beauty and perfection is in the simple things.
What is the current situation of Walking Papers?
Jeff: We made a second record, it’s recorded and it’s finished; we’ve made it before this record.
Why did you choose to put out this one first?
Jeff: I didn’t choose to. We didn’t want to be in competition with ourselves : John is doing Guns N’ Roses things, the drummer doesn’t want to play the last stuff available, so I made a new thing to keep myself busy because I feel like I have more ideas than I can do in Walking Papers. These guys are like kids, they’re running all over the place. I had to get this idea out because I have my own ideas.
So, are you still in the band?
Jeff: We made a record, and it will come out eventually, but for the moment, I’m just doing what I’m doing. I was happy to make it. It’s a really good record, people should hear it. I don’t know how much music those guys are making on their own, but they seem to go back and play the same songs for twenty fucking years, I’m not guided by a tour and by money, I’m trying to make songs because that’s what I like. If I was trying to make money, I wouldn’t be in the fucking music business. I’m in music business because I love songs and playing music with my friends. It will come out someday.
According to critics, we don’t see much difference compared to Walking Papers. Do you agree?
Jeff: The funny thing is that people think it’s like a solo album, but actually Walking Papers were closer to solo album because I wrote all the Walking Papers’ records. So those guys were playing on my record. This album is actually written with the other people that I’m playing with. It’s funny because people think this is the solo album, but that one was everybody’s. What people hear as a similarity with the other band is the fact that I write a lot of songs. If you have Nick Cave in the seat, the musicians behind can change, it will still sound like Cave and it’s the same. Different musicians bring different flavors, but if you’re the singer and the songwriter, it’s still your vision. The more I make records, the stronger I get, you learn mostly what no to do.
When will be your next show in France?
Jeff: Probably in a few months. The next show would be in Munich so we go from here. The band left yesterday, they went to Germany, and then Poland. And then we go play in America.
To finish with our traditional question: as our media is called “RockUrLife”, what rocks your life?
Jeff: Just being here right now is rocking my life, it’s good to travel around, meet new people and play music everyday. My life is pretty sweet right now.
Jeff: Yeah, but I like it. It’s always been like this for me, I’ve never been in a big huge famous band, but I’ve always had a band with a good enough level. We’ve always played, and unlike these huge bands playing in festivals, I’ve spent all my life playing in clubs and I think it’s better. Clubs are more exciting because you can see the faces. I’m very grateful and I feel blessed. That’s the problem, people don’t appreciate where they are. Actually, with Walking Papers, I’ve gone on tour with Aerosmith, Jane’s Addiction, Biffy Clyro. When you play a big festival like that, you think that’s where you are going to be happy and then you don’t actually realise that there is a sweet spot somewhere in a small place. In the big show, the audience is so far away and the sound is horrible and sometimes the music is even late, he hits the drums and the sound take a while to get to you, it’s hard to play, really difficult. So when you play in clubs is actually the best play to do it. I’m happy I never had my huge hit. (laughs)