The Black Angels are currently on the road promoting their latest album, Indigo Meadow, which was released earlier this month. The band will be back in Austin at the end of April for the sixth annual Austin Psych Fest, which runs from April 26 to 28. They take off again in May to tour the States and then head out of the country in June and July to hit up Australia, the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, Germany and France.
I caught up with one of the founding members of both The Black Angels and Austin Psych Fest, Christian Bland, via email to get a few questions answered about the band, the new album and the future of Psych Fest.
~ ~ ~
I saw The Black Angels perform at the Thrasher Magazine party during South by Southwest a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure I saw Jake Garcia (The Ripe, The Ugly Beats) on guitar that day. Is he a new member of the band or was that just for the day?
Christian Bland: Jake is our newest member.
There is one less person in the band on Indigo Meadow than on your previous album. What happened to Nate?
Bland: We kicked Nate out of the band in January 2012. It had been a struggle since finishing Phosphene Dream in 2009 when he decided to stay in L.A.
When I first saw The Black Angels there were six people. There were four members in the band for the Indigo Meadow. How has the dynamic in the creative process changed since the beginning? Is it easier to create when there are fewer voices with input?
Bland: The dynamic hasn’t changed much. It’s definitely easier writing and recording with less cooks in the kitchen.
Since Indigo Meadow came out, and it’s spring, it kind of makes me think of a field of bluebonnets. What does “indigo meadow” mean to The Black Angels?
Bland: It’s about a huge sunny field of bluebonnets swaying gently in the breeze when suddenly the sky grows dark and gray and a cold wind whips across the meadow. The bluebonnets seem to shine even brighter against the blackened skies.
I read that you guys wrote “Don’t Play with Guns” a few days before the mass shooting in Colorado. Is that true? What are your thoughts on guns and the fact that we live in Texas, a place that loves guns?
Bland: The song was written in late 2011. It’s a song in the same vein as “Femme Fatale” or “Play with Fire.” It really doesn’t have anything to do with firearms. The timing of its release, and events that transpired made it into something more than it was meant to be. My parents never had guns in the house growing up, so personally I don’t play with them. I think they’ve caused far more harm than good.
I feel like Indigo Meadow has a darker, spookier kind of tone to it than your other albums. Is it just me? Is that what you were going for on this one?
Bland: We love the band Love and used them as inspiration.
I read in an interview that you did with It’s Psychedelic Baby, that you see Indigo Meadow as “chapter 2 in the fairy tale we’re writing.” In the song “Holland,” Alex sings about “a slew of gypsy acid cats… with their witchy veiny claws.” Gypsy’s on acid and witchy things seem like they would fit right into a Black Angels fairy tale. Tell me about the song “Holland,” what inspired it, and how it fits into the fairy tale.
Bland: Alex wrote the song, but for me it reminds me of our several adventures in Amsterdam.
I read in another interview, that you did in February, that your favorite tracks on this album were “I Hear Colors” and “Always Maybe.” Why are these two your favorites?
Bland: They’re both fun to play. “Always Maybe” reminds me of part two to “Bad Vibrations,” which is my favorite song on Phosphene Dream.
The last song on Indigo Meadow is “Black isn’t Black.” What is this song about?
Bland: The song is about the drawing of the phantom in the booklet for the album, which is actually about someone else. He’s a soul sucker manipulator.
How do you feel about how Psych Fest has grown from its inception and what do you think it could be in the future?
Bland: I’m amazed by how much it’s grown since 2008. I hope it continues to grow and that more people start psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll bands so we can continue the festival until 2033 and beyond.
Which bands are you looking forward to seeing at Psych Fest?
Bland: As many as I can see… off the top of my head, Clinic, The Growlers, White Fence, BRMC, The Raveonettes, Vietnam and Tinariwen.
Listen to “Don’t Play with Guns” from the album Indigo Meadow below.