The Black Angels

KRCL 90.9FM Presents

The Black Angels

Ron Gallo

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

8:00 pm

The Depot - Salt Lake City

$25 ADV / $27 DOS

This event is 21 and over

The Black Angels
The Black Angels

Alex Maas – vocals, bass, organ/drone machine
Christian Bland – guitar, drone machine/organ
Kyle Hunt – keyboards, percussion, bass, guitar
Stephanie Bailey – drums, percussion

The Black Angels’ most revelatory collection thus far, Indigo Meadow marks the Austin, Texas-based band’s fourth full-length release, following 2010’s acclaimed Phosphene Dream. Once again The Black Angels prove themselves the undisputed avatars of contemporary psychedelic rock, simultaneously exalting the genre’s kaleidoscopic past as they thrust it ever further into the future.

Now a quartet, the band – with the able support of producer John Congleton (David Byrne & St. Vincent, Clinic, Explosions In The Sky) – have brought new focus to their wide-ranging songcraft, their righteous riffs and dogmatic drones gaining increased power as they fuel a more expansive emotional trajectory. The ominous organ grooves and carpet-bombing beats still resonate with feral rush and napalm fire, but songs like “Love Me Forever” and the bottomless blue title track see more than a little light piercing the Black Angels’ notorious heart of darkness.

“There’s a different feel to it than any of our other records, “ says singer/multi-instrumentalist Alex Maas. “It still has those ‘What the hell’s going on?’ moments, but when you’re having a psych experience, you don’t want it to be dark all the time. That’s not where you want to be.”

Phosphene Dream was followed by two years of nearly non-stop touring, a thrilling, often grueling run that by its end saw the band’s roster diminished but their spirit restored. The Black Angels closed the circle and in January 2012 they convened to begin writing and woodshedding new material. The next few months turned out to be the most artistically fecund of the band’s career, their fresh energy unlocking an abundance of songs and intriguing musical options.

“A weight was lifted off of us,” guitarist Christian Bland says. “It’s like ESP when you’re playing together, like you’re channeling something. If someone isn’t in the same headspace, then the ESP feels disrupted.”

In August, The Black Angels headed to El Paso’s renowned Sonic Ranch. Located on 2,300 acres of pecan orchards bordering the Rio Grande and Mexico, the studio – the largest residential recording complex in the world – proved the ideal locale for the band’s aural adventurism.

“It’s awesome to be out there, away from everything, and just be saturated in the music,” Maas says. “You have nowhere else to go but the studio. It was really healthy for us, a really healthy experience.”

Furthermore, the band’s choice of producer/mixer John Congleton allowed for an extra set of ears, not to mention a tie-breaking vote in the ever-democratic Black Angels hierarchy.

“When we work with a producer,” Bland says, “the hope is that they’ll give us that extra push that we need and that’s what John did. He became the fifth member. It can be nerve-wracking working with someone you don’t really know but we felt like he was coming from where we were coming from.”

Positive vibrations shine through Indigo Meadow, with radiant new hues spilling out like a blindingly bright field of Texas bluebonnets over the Black Angels’ traditionally shadowy palette. “I Hear Colors (Chromaesthesia),” in many ways the album’s centerpiece and overall sonic manifesto, is a 21st century trip as transcendent as any anthem in the psychedelic canon, while the wyrd folk-flavored closer, “Black Isn’t Black,” points towards heretofore unventured musical and emotional terrain.

“We make this music because it makes us feel good,” Maas says, “we hope – that it makes other people feel good. People ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a music therapist. It sounds completely ridiculous but that’s how I see myself, that’s how I see our band, that’s how I see music in general – as therapy for people. Without it, life would be so much harder.”

“There are still some pretty evil songs on there,” reminds Bland. “I like the juxtaposition of something sounding sweet but maybe there’s an underbelly to it, so if you dive in further you get the full story.”

To be sure, all is not moon pies and rainbows ‘round Indigo Meadow – this is The Black Angels after all. Tracks like the high-powered “Don’t Play With Guns” and the post-traumatic acid-punk of “Broken Soldier” continue the band’s longstanding role as psychedelic provocateurs, exploring archetypal themes of wasteful wars, creeping paranoia, and the corruption of power to score a disorienting soundtrack to our own increasingly Strangelovian culture.

“There are a lot of fucked up things going on in this world,” Maas says. “We’re lucky to have an outlet and a platform to acknowledge these issues.”

Founded in 2004, The Black Angels have been the spearhead of the post-millennial psychedelic movement, picking up the mantle of their hometown’s long lysergic history and reinvigorating it with progressive political commentary and unrestrained creativity and ambition. Like any great psychedelic family band worth its salt, they have also birthed their own cottage industry, from The Reverberation Appreciation Society label (home to numerous new psychedelicists as well as their own many extracurricular outings) to hosting the annual gathering of the tribes at the amazing Austin Psych Fest. Now entering its sixth year, APF has proven the locus for today’s incredibly wide-ranging psych scene, as expansive and revolutionary and exhilarating now as at any moment since its 1960s zenith.

“We took it upon ourselves to help expand the genre,” Maas says, “not just sonically but let other people around the world experience it. And then vice verse, bring psychedelic music from all over the world to Austin.”

Indigo Meadow affirms The Black Angels’ spot at the forefront of what is looking like a third psychedelic golden age, as hypnogogic production, mysterious world music jams, and propulsive, primitive pulsebeats come to define the sound of modern rock music, from the always audacious underground all the way to the cultural mainline.

“I can see it bubbling right now,” says Bland. “It needs to steam over. It’d be pretty cool if we could do a little psych takeover. Back in the early 2000s, when I heard the Strokes and the White Stripes on the radio, that really stood out to me. It was different and it really inspired me. I’d love for that to happen again, maybe with one of our songs, and for there to be a complete overhaul of how people listen to music again.”

“You get jealous in a good way,” Maas says of the modern psych boom, “so it pushes you. It’s inspiring. It’s great to see it, it’s great to be a part of it. It reconfirms to us that we’re doing the right thing.”

With each new record, The Black Angels have consistently elevated their art, their creative voice becoming clearer and more distinct. Indigo Meadow continues their extraordinary evolution, its monumental melodies and vast vision marking it as testament to the band’s full-throttle commitment to the psychedelic ethos of ritual, community and boundless experimentation.

“Music is a spiritual thing for us,” Maas says. “It’s what’s kept our band united. Music is our religion. That word can be so dirty sometimes, but this music is our spirituality. Without sounding too hippy-dippy about it.”
Ron Gallo
Ron Gallo
I have probably spent too much time being pissed off and upset with humanity; how far we’ve let ourselves go. Just another millennial guy with large hair trying in earnest to take on the weight of the world; taking passionate and hypercritical walks down city blocks, somehow totally aware and above the illusion, overflowing with informed negativity to destroy the illusion and only feeding it.

Besides a couple of years of emotional and mental turmoil, loss, confusion, breakdown and internal growth what did all of that ever get me? Well, it gave me this record called “HEAVY META” and it is the first few findings from my guerilla treasure hunt for bullshit, both outside and within. Ethos meets pathos.

There is nothing about reading this bio that will achieve its only goal - to further acquaint you with the music. I suggest you put the phone down, come to a show and make up your own mind. You work hard, or don’t work at all; but the search for purpose and meaning is real and the need to relate, release and rage is just as visceral. And though I can’t control what you think, maybe, JUST MAYBE, I can spark some emotion that might unite us in tacit understanding through the language of music – where the words “fuck yeah” say everything.

Just the existence of a biography in someway makes it seem like my life is more interesting than your life - far from the truth. I am more interested in YOU, and how we connect that to the WE; that is the reason why I put this stuff out there. These songs - whether they’re about the time I saw a mother’s cigarette ash falling onto her child’s head in a stroller, or the wars we start within ourselves or, the domestication of punks - they immortalize images and moments in this singular existence that seem to hold a more universal truth than what is taken at face value. And for all this I have nothing but gratitude for the process that lead me to create this album - the 4,929,647 album of all time.



…is 11 tracks of lyrical confrontation and laughter for cynics laid down roughly on a bed of fuzz, chaotic structures and primal sounds evoked from a red Fender jaguar electric guitar - there is bass, there are drums and not much else besides the occasional icing (no artificial colors or dyes). It’s not comfortable and easily pinpointed and I’m sure that will create an issue for the desire for neat little boxes we have grown to love. On my shelf currently there is a Mahalia Jackson record sandwiched between “Funhouse” by The Stooges and Minor Threat. Lately on long drives, we’ve been deep into the Eckhart Tolle audiobook for “A New Earth”, a variety of comedy podcasts (specify), our friends and bands in our new adopted home of Nashville, stand-up specials and revisiting 90’s hits - oh, and listening to our own record a lot to make sure the mixes are right on car speakers. My bedroom window curtains are orange. We tour in a maroon SUV. The band, RG3, consists of Joe Bisirri on bass and Dylan Sevey on drums.

If you’ve made it this far, now might be a good time to go over some pretty boring backstory to create further context for the “assets” of my “brand”:

I was in a band called Toy Soldiers for about 8 years that started as a drum/guitar duo between my longtime friend from middle school and I, fluctuated into a 12-piece freak show and then eventually a solid 5-piece rock and roll group. I consider that brand my musical training wheels. It was the reason one night in 2007 I realized in a low ceiling south Philadelphia basement that maybe one day I could be a singer. We barreled around the country many times, made many mistakes, had good times and eventually played our last show in August of 2014. Shortly thereafter I started a label called American Diamond Recordings and put out a record called “RONNY”, the cover is my face with a slice of pizza on it and it sounds like an island vacation. I didn’t know what I was doing when I made it. I still don’t know what I’m doing and I plan on keeping it that way.

The only thing I do know is that I want to use music to reflect the times and as a primary outlet for me to become a total psychopath on stage, challenge myself and talk about potentially heavy real world things, call you out, then maybe we can even hug after the show. I am forever grateful for this life and anyone that ever comes to a show, buys a record and wants to have a real conversation. I have no idea where things are going, but I know it’s best to grow with them and be okay with whatever happens. As for right now, it seems like a great time to WAKE UP, put all of ourselves into it, acknowledge our own personal limitless value and beauty and if I can be any part in that, well then, awesome. Thank you.
Venue Information:
The Depot - Salt Lake City
400 W South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT, 84103