FFS Interview: The Angel Brothers

FFS: So, ‘Angel Brothers’ is your first album in four years, what inspired you to record again?
Keith Angel: Our dad , Ivor, died at the end of 2006 and this seemed to fill Dave & I with creative energy and a desire to make the most of being in a great band together. Luckily , this co-incided with tom Rose from Navigator records offering us a deal for the new record – which also inspired us to action!

For those who haven’t heard your music, could you describe your sound?

KA: Sort of a filmic mixture of great rhythms and guitar melodies – mainly acoustic, with vocals here and there.  Unpredictable, I’d say, too.

Where did the passion for world folk music come from?

KA: From Andy Kershaw, Charlie gillett, Doncaster record library, WOMAD, Cambridge, Chris Blackwell, John Martyn, Joe Boyd, Andy Seward, pub sessions and old cassettes. A desire to look beyond the Doncaster horizon.  I’d have to say that Andy Kershaw’s radio show in the 80s and 90s was the biggest single influence. I’ve still got dozens of cassettes of that show. One day i’m gong to spoil myself and shut myself away for a week somewhere nice and listen  to them all again. Andy Kershaw is a truly superb broadcaster and a great loss to the BBC. I sincerely hope he comes back with a vengeance soon!

On this album you have a lot of contributors including Bombay-born vocalist Sandhya Sanjana, how do you think the contributors influence the sound?

KA: The addition of the human voice just gives such an extra dimension – look at some of Ennio Morricone’s and Pat Metheny’s stuff – it seems to reach out further than purely instrumental work.

You have been quoted as saying the album is “a soundtrack to a film of your imagination”, and I have to agree with you- were there many cinematic influences?

KA: Yes – the influence of our fellow Yorkshireman John Barry is ever present, as well as the inflence of Ennio Morricone and more recently Jeff Beal who composed the music for the HBO series ‘Carnivale’ and ‘Rome’. Some of the more interesting and experimental music and use of recording seems to be on TV and at the cinema. Maybe it always has been – the BBC radiophonic workshop and the work of Delia derbyshire had a big effect on us as kids  huddled infront of the TV in 1970’s Donny.

DA: Ry Cooder above all at the moment.  His last few albums are fantastic – exactly where music should be.  We also love the use of music on the documentaries by Geoffrey Jones from the 60s and 70s.  If you haven’t seen these, they’re brilliant.

You recorded at Wavelength Studios in your hometown of Doncaster, did it make a difference recording at home?

It was a really lovely exprience to record in our new studio! We were relaxed, creative and inspired.And , most importantly – it sounded great!

The Angel Brothers say the new album – their first in four years – call their new album is “cinematic folk funk”. FFS’s Kat Nichols spoke to them about their return to the music business.
KN: Your sound is obviously a global one with influences from around the world- do you enjoy travelling? Where has your favourite place to explore been?

KA: I recently went to the Festival in the Desert in Mali , which was an incredible experience. Followed by three days journey down the Niger on a salt boat with only dry bread and sardines to eat. I don’t eat sardines anymore – even at school parties…

DA: my recent trip to India was inspirarational – what a soundscape you get there, walking between lagoons early in the morning in Kerala is a surreal audio journey – they have speakers everywhere, playing anything from Bollywood to religious chant, and the effect is amazing.  Even the boat-makers hammer in rhythm – I thought it was a percussion concert, but it was just a boat yard.  Must go back with a digital recorder!

How does the writing process work? Does the whole band get together to jam, or does one of you take the lead?

DA: I wrote most of the main themes, but then we re-recorded them all, and, to be honest, most of the guest players make up their own parts with us producing.  I wouldn’t have the nerve to tell Sandyha or Becky exactly what to play, as they’re such intuitive musicians.  Often, they back up our themes and then add plenty of their own ideas, which is great.

You have some live dates coming up in September, are you looking forward to your return to the stage? Do you prefer big arena’s or more intimate venues?

KA: We’ll play just about anywhere people will come and see us.And believe me , we’ve played in some bizarre venues and places over the years…

Finally, what was your favourite track to record on the album and why?

KA: I think for me ‘Tongues of Fire’, because I got totally and wonderfully lost in recording this piece. It was like a fantastic , strange dream come to life. I lost all sense of time and simply immersed myself in the music- which is one of my very favourite states of existence. Bliss! Hope you enjoy it too.

DA: same for me.  This track makes me think of driving through the night in the rain, desperate to get somewhere before dawn.

Interview: Kat Nicholls