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The Black Angels

Christian Bland


photo by Marili Gouli


If someone asked me to do a list with my favourite bands over the last 10 years, I would definitely include in there The Black Angels. The band from Austin (Texas) are one of the most interesting and consistent bands of the last decade, having released four astonishing and almost flawless albums so far: Passover (2006), Directions To See A Ghost (2008), Phosphene Dream (2010) and Indigo Meadow (2013). I believe that the band somehow woke up the Austin psychedelic rock from a long sleep and then spread it all over the world. Undoubtedly, The Angels have influenced and inspired lots of other bands of the current decade. Have also in mind that the guys host the Levitation Festival (named like that in honour of Austin’s legendary psychedelic rock godfathers The 13th Floor Elevators) for nine years now, a music feast that truly and deeply supports and introduces psych pop-rock bands from all over the world. Three years ago, I had the chance and the honour to chat with one of the band's founding members, guitarist Christian Bland. Well, Christian is back in The Basement and among others things, he gives us some hints about the band's forthcoming 5th album. That's all from me, here's the interview.

The Basement: Hi Christian! So nice to have you in The Basement again! So, how are you and how’s the band doing?
Nice to be back. We’re doing great. We’re currently working on our 5th album.
 
The Basement: The last time we talked, we ended our chat with me wishing the Black Angels to visit Greece for a live performance for the first time ever, and you giving me some hope that this could become true that year. Finally, you played in Athens some months later... And then, in June 2015 you were here again to open The Black Keys at the Rockwave. And last month, you performed for the new Release Festival. Seems that you’re becoming...Greek. :) What are the impressions and memories of these visits in our country? Which one of the three would you pick as your favourite?
Greece is amazing. We’ve come over once a year for the last 3 years, so it seems like the Greek people seem to dig what we’re doing. It was amazing visiting all of the ancient ruins and getting to eat greek food, which we all loved. I think my favorite visit was probably in 2015. We got into some wild times after the Rockwave fest.
 
The Basement: Last April, you played the brand new song Hunt Me Down for Jam In The Van. Are there any more new songs? Is the time coming for your 5th album? 
There’s an entire album on the way. It should be out by the spring of 2017. Hopefully just in time for the 10th anniversary of the Levitation festival. It’s got a sound from 2525 (Christian is referring to this 1969 masterpiece), but with sprinklings of the 4 previous albums. In other words, it’ll sound like the Black Angels, but from a different vantage point. 

 

 


The Basement: I think that your 2013 album Indigo Meadow has somehow put you in more mainstream paths and much more people got to know your music. Have you sensed such a fact? Do you think it’s a “danger” and a risk of your quality?
I agree. We definitely had our biggest crowds yet when we were touring on ‘Indigo Meadow’. I don’t think our quality went down. But we’ll have to see what people think of the next album. I like all the songs we’ve created. I guess its just about translating them from what’s in our heads heads onto the record. 
 
The Basement: Last April (11), it was the 10th anniversary of your brilliant debut ‘Passover’. Which moments would you consider as the most important and crucial to the band’s progress?
Opening  for one of our biggest inspirations, BRMC in 2007. They took us on tour in Europe, the UK, and all around the US and helped to expose us to bigger audiences. Playing on the David Letterman show in 2010 seemed to validate my career choice with my parents. 


The Black Angels on Letterman, 2010 - Telephone



The Basement: What about difficult moments and hard times to the Angels’ 10 year flight?
Losing band members along the way and finding replacements who fit into the scheme.  
 
The Basement: Your favourite Black Angels album? What about a top-5 of songs?
Probably Passover. It was so raw and free-spirited. 

Τop 5 Βlack Αngels’ songs in no particular order:
Bad Vibrations
Better Off Alone
Sniper At The Gates Of Heaven
Science Killer
Black Grease
 
The Basement: I think that all these years, you somehow re-invented the psych pop-rock sound and you were one of the bands that initially evoked the revival of this kind music over the last 5 years or so. Would you agree with that?
That’s what people have said. I think along with several other bands from the early 2000’s like….Clinic, Psychic Ills, The Warlocks, BJM, BRMC, & Dead Meadow (just to name a few) we helped to bring its popularity back to the forefront.
 
The Basement: And now, there are so so many new psych pop-rock bands leaping out every year worldwide... Are there any of them that you personally stick out?
A few of my current favorites are Crystal Stilts, Apache Dropout, Ty Segall, Night Beats, Burnt Ones, Jacco Gardner, Psychic Ills, & Holy Wave.
   
The Basement: Christian thank you very much! I wish the best for you and the band. Instead of a last question, feel free to add and say whatever you’d like and I didn’t ask you about... 
Hopefully we’ll be back to Greece in 2017 with the new album in hand. 


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