We chat with The Black Angels
It was a cold Friday morning when Tone Deaf’s Ella Jackson was to interview The Black Angels’ Christian Bland. Still in bed and still hungover from the night before, it wasn’t the optimum time to be performing an interview, but hey, for The Black Angels, who could complain? Arguably one of the best modern psychedelic rock bands in the world, they’re anything but one of your average fad-chasing “psychedelic meets shoegaze meets noise pop” teenage bands, that let’s face it, there seems to be a lot of these days. Alex Maas’ haunting and supernatural vocals teamed with soaring guitars and more drone than a hive full of killer bees make for a beautiful and mystical sound that borrows from both the past and present, as well as some time between now and the future that’s hard to quite put your finger on…
After 40 minutes of waiting on hold, the excitement to interview Christian began to wear thin, the hangover continued tightening its greasy clutches, and Tone Deaf gave up and begrudgingly hung up. All was not lost though; just a couple of minutes later an extremely animated and apologetic Christian Bland appeared on the line, and—excuse the bad pun— he wasn’t very bland at all.
“You were waiting for 40 minutes!?” he laughed, “Oh my god! I stayed on for like 15 minutes just saying “Hello… hello… hello? But I couldn’t hear you, so I gave up!”
We proceeded to go well over our time limit, talking everything from the connection between the popularity of psychedelic music and the world’s deteriorating state, to the band’s annual music festival Austin Psych Fest, to spirituality, to ghost encounters, and so on in that fashion, racking up a very expensive phone bill and more pages of interview transcription than this interviewer has personally ever seen before (unfortunately about 70% of it was chit chat and completely unusable in this story… sorry guys).
As you all probably know, The Black Angels are about to embark on their first Australian tour ever. This has been a VERY long time in the works, Christian tells us, as Australia was actually the first country they released their first album Passover in, and consequently they had always thought this would be one of the first countries that they would tour internationally. Despite all being somewhat disappointed that they couldn’t have made it here earlier, they’re all very excited at the prospect of the coming here at the beginning of July, although unfortunately they won’t be staying longer than six or so days.
Coming along with them will be Joel Gion of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, which still seems slightly surreal to Christian, he reveals. Brian Jonestown Massacre is obviously a big influence of the band, and having a member supporting them (friend though he may be), is still sinking in. It’s not surprising though, as the support they’ve been getting from them, along with other big names in the industry such as Roky Erickson, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Dandy Warhols (just to name a few) has been absolutely overwhelming since the bands inception in 2004. They even toured as Roky’s backing band in 2008.
It has now been announced that The Laurels and Beaches will be supporting them along with Joel. But at the time of the interview, Christian was saying he was dead keen to get The Dolly Rocker Movement and The Astral Kaleidoscope backing them. Christian watches the Australian music scene closely, and The Dolly Rockers and Astral Kaleidoscope are big favourites and friends of his, along with Tame Impala and The Morning After Girls.