January 12, 2018 Interview – Jeff Angell Talks The Return of Walking Papers
Back in 2012, the Rock-n-Roll world was introduced to a brand new band going by Walking Papers. Formed by Seattle, Washington’s Jeff Angell (vocals, guitar) of The Missionary Position and Barrett Martin (drums, percussion), formerly of the Screaming Trees, together, they would team up with Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan (bass), and The Missionary Position’s Benjamin Anderson (keyboards) with their sights set on creating a sound all their own. Releasing their self-titled debut album in 2013, going on to join Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction as part of that summer’s Uproar Festival, it would lead to worldwide touring thereafter as Walking Paper’s success continued to rapidly mount.
Unfortunately, it has been a few years since Walking Papers has been in the public eye. Now, they finally emerge from the shadows, preparing to release their long overdue sophomore album, WP2, on Friday, January 19, 2018. More polished, yet as gritty as ever, as a true Rock-n-Roll band should be, is 2018 ready for the return of Walking Papers? Recently we caught up with leading songwriter Jeff Angell to talk the begins of the band, the long span of time between albums, the work behind the new music, plans for the future, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke was back in 2013; Walking Papers were rounding up a successful run on Uproar Festival in support of their debut album. How would you describe the initial run with Walking Papers?
Jeff Angell – It was pretty cool! That first tour was around 5 weeks and it was with Alice and Chains as well as Jane’s Addiction headlining. If you would have told that to my 14 year old self I would have been over the moon. Those were probably some my favorite bands in the ’80s when I was a young guy just getting started. It was very cool, at the end of the tour I played “Rooster” with Alice in Chains on stage after they invited me up. That was really exciting and ever since then I have stayed really good friends with those guys. It was good! What was really weird about that tour was the whole 5 weeks, Dave Navarro never seemed to find his shirt. I don’t know where he lost it, he seemed to lose it on the first date and the guy never found that shirt for the whole tour. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) I think he is still looking for it actually!
Jeff Angell – I think he is! Either that or it is like Wonder Woman’s jet and is invisible. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) Now, Walking Papers continued touring through 2014 and then everyone went on to other respective projects. In the time apart, did everyone keep the lines of communication open that Walking Papers would in fact be back?
Jeff Angell – Well, we made another record and we were ready to put it out, and Guns N’ Roses took over. I can’t blame Duff, but it kind of stood in the way of us putting out the record. We thought we would get back to it, but it just kept going. He was contractually obligated to do that. Since I was there knowing that was going on, I did a Staticland record, I toured that twice in the United States and twice in Europe. I was then contractually binded to that, so we had to wait for that contract to be up. Now we can finally release the record. The record was actually hot on the heels of those two tours, but kind of a secret stuck there for two years of us not being able to do anything with it.
CrypticRock.com – That is quite interesting. What was the experience recording and writing that debut album?
Jeff Angell – It was great! We recorded in Josh Homme’s studio in Los Angeles – that would probably sound really cool before he went and kicked that lady in the face. I had never made a record in a big studio before, it was cool to just be in the studio like ‘real bands’ do. I always made records at home, it was my first opportunity to have a real studio with real gear. A thing where it is your job where you go and at night you go home to a hotel and you wake up in the morning and do it again. You can completely focus on the record which makes things happen a lot more. Since you are in the thick of it, you can keep your eye on it a little bit better and it can have a more defined focus.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it was a great experience. The band is now back with WP2. This new record is quite raw, real, and rocks hard at times too. What was the writing and recording process like this time around?
Jeff Angell – I am always not sure if I am writing a song or if they are writing themselves. I always keep a journal going and that is where the ideas of the songs go, if you are sitting on a bus or in a van, you have to do something with your imagination. That is where the characters and stories end up in these songs. The first record was way more songs I worked on my own and Barrett produced them.
There are more collaborations going on with WP2. Touring, we could kind of see what our band could do, we found out who we were as a band collectively. This record kind of shows that. The rhythm tracks of us playing all together, we learned how to gel. When we made the first record, we never even played live before. This record, we had multiple tours under our belt and we kind of figured who and what we were as a band.
CrypticRock.com – It shows. It is quite a strong and cohesive piece of work. When did the recording for WP2 actually begin?
Jeff Angell – It was recorded in the beginning of 2015.
CrypticRock.com – So, now, nearly three years have passed since it was initially begun. That in mind, you have had a lot of time to let it sit. Usually, you make an album and boom it is released. Having had time to let it sink in, are you happy with the final product?
Jeff Angell – Yea, I am totally satisfied, I think it is a great record. It really has been more like two years, because making a record takes some time. We went in and recorded it, stepped away, did a tour, then mixed it and mastered it. I am happy with the lyrics, because that is my thing – I think lyrics validate music and visa versa. I am happy with that, but from years of recording, I feel like a lot of times in the studio things get sterile. People get too worried about being perfect. Then, if it is too loose, the band kind of loses something in that way. There is always this balance – do you go for perfection? Or do you go for rawness?
Rarely, except for maybe in the old Motown records, where they blended, where it sounded live and raw, but at the same time it sounded polished and solid. You can suck the life out of something by being too critical of it. With this record, what was good, after we toured so hard, we were able to record the album, and just a monster band with a couple of hundred shows under our belts. I think this record really captures both of those things. It captures that rawness of a live performance, but at the same time you also get that polish of the studio. We basically polished a really good live recording, that is really hard to achieve. You usually have to sacrifice one for the other, but I think this record captures that in a way that is special and unique.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed! This is also a good time to release this album. There seems to be a resurrection of rawness in Rock-n-Roll in recent years. This may even attract some new fans who perhaps did not know about Walking Papers just yet.
Jeff Angell – I hope so! I am really proud of it and hope it finds an audience. At the same time, it achieves something personal for me, to capture that energy of a live band while at the same time getting that p0lish. I think that is what a lot of people love about bands like AC/DC or the first Guns N’ Roses record – it is a studio recording, but it has the energy of being a live show. I think these days, with technology, it is almost too easy to make things perfect. Perfection is a receding target, it is not something that people want. We can still achieve high standards in music, writing songs, and performances, but it takes some wisdom to not take the easy way by doing it by using machines for editing, etc. I hope that resonates with people and gives something that maybe they are not finding in other music nowadays.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is needed in music, especially Rock-n-Roll. In our previous conversation, you came across as a very humble and appreciative person. You had mentioned how you had really wasted a lot of precious time before getting sober. Do you have a new lease on life and music, sober for some time now?
Jeff Angell – 100%! I also think that my value for time is way higher. I have a way higher value for my time, I don’t squander it. Everybody goes through it. I look at life as giving a kid a 100 dollar bill, you are going to burn through that first 80 dollars pretty recklessly! Then when you have about 20 dollars left, you think wait a minute, I want to hold onto this, I may need it. I definitely burned through some years there. From the sober part, it is pretty easy to measure my productivity.
That was one of the things I was bummed about this recording not coming out. When Walking Papers came out, I made 2 records with The Missionary Position before that. Then I had two records come out within a year of each other, then this other record would have come out. I was thinking, “Man, how many of these things can I make?” Not in a way of let’s just throw them out there, but I was just working so hard at it. That is basically what I did with my time. I would have liked to see the first Walking Papers record in 2013, then another one in 2015, and then another in 2016. Not a lot of people are making a record every year anymore.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and it is great you are so inspired. They say it is never late to make up for lost time.
Jeff Angell – I guess so. I guess it might be, time is one thing they are not making more of. I wonder who the hell made that statement up. Ask that of any 85 year old (Laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) That is true, they also say time waits for no man, right? With new music set for release January 19th, can we expect to see Walking Papers hit the road again soon?
Jeff Angell – Yea, we are doing the record release show here in Seattle on January 27th at The Crocodile. Then we are going to do some other shows. I can see emails and offers coming in. We are going to be doing something. I think we are going to do something where no one’s really going to know what they are going to get, every time we are going to be doing something a little bit different. That is how we are going to be arranging the shows, who’s playing, and how we are going about it.
CrypticRock.com – Sounds exciting. So, it is going to be a little bit of a surprise?
Jeff Angell – Yea! We are looking forward to keep it like that for every show, we think that will be kind of exciting.
CrypticRock.com – That sounds like a lot of fun. Last question, as you may recall, we cover movies as well. Have you seen any new films you have enjoyed within the Horror and Sci-Fi genres?
Jeff Angell – I really liked Nocturnal Animals (2016). You have to see it. I think it is one of the best movies ever made! I would consider it a Horror movie, it has crime, horror, suspense. Man, you will be thinking about that movie for a year afterwards, wondering what the hell was going on there? As far as Sci-Fi, I always have to keep up with Black Mirror. I find it interesting. I always like to look at some of the ideas and concepts they put in there. I think they are worth paying attention to. Also, my friend, Matt Hayward, from Ireland writes Horror novels. He and Csaba Mester from Hungary made a Comic Book to one of our songs, “This Is How It Ends.” I just gave them the song lyrics and they just took it from there, it is pretty cool. Matt also has a couple of books out. He also took one of my songs, “Where The Wild Winds Blow,” and he turned it into a Horror short story for a publication.