Ahead of their stellar opening set for Alice in Chains in Manchester (see review here), I took some time to speak to Jeff Angell, front man of Walking Papers about the band, his influences, and what could have been a different Velvet Revolver.
Louder Than War: So how does it feel to be back in the UK?
Jeff Angell: It’s a pleasure. I love it, I think I’ve been here more than I’ve been home!
And where’s your favourite part?
Oh man, am I gonna get in trouble answering that? (Laughs) Glasgow was pretty cool. London is fascinating; I’ve been there a number of times. I like Manchester too, and we get to hang here on our day off, so I’m excited about that. I love so many bands from around here.
Yeah, I thought that the early Verve records were amazing, and of course everybody loves Joy Division.
You played this year’s Download Festival, how was it to play at the famous Donington?
It was incredible. That was probably one of the biggest shows I’ve ever played. We didn’t play on the main stage, but it was still busy, probably ten to fourteen thousand people, that’s something! All this is new to me; I’m just from underground bands in the States.
As fans will be aware, you guys were founded from good stock, with Duff McKagan on bass, Barret from the Screaming Trees on drums, and of course your colleague from The Missionary Position (Benjamin Anderson), how did all of that come together?
Well, I’ve known Duff for a long time, he was a fan of a band I was in Seattle called Post Stardom Depression, and he invited me to the initial Velvet Revolver auditions, so I went down there and recorded some demos with them, but then of course they went with the more handsome guy, which I don’t blame them for!! But we stayed friends, and so Duff has continued to support the different bands I’ve been in, and I met Barrett when I was opening for a band he was in, and he asked me if I’d like to get together and jam. So, we built a record out of those jams and invited Duff to come down and play bass, and we were like “Hey, let’s take this thing on the road!”.
And the trying out for Velvet Revolver…?!
Well, (laughs), yeah I would’ve done the gig, it was a lot more rock ’n’ roll than what they became, I guess the thing that we did was a little rowdier, and rattier. It was one of my high points of my musical career, just to play with those guys in a room. I always kept the demos to myself, I heard about some guys leaking the tracks they recorded with the guys, but I thought that would’ve been fucked up. So I still have six songs that I recorded with them that nobody else can hear. It’s like I have this treasure!
Congratulations on the first album! It’s really a great record. For those who haven’t heard it, or even heard of you guys, where did the influences come from?
Well, our influences are so eclectic at this point, y’know, like somewhere between Black Sabbath and Tom Waits, that’s the only way I can describe it!
And how would you reel the fans in?
Man, hopefully they’ll just have a listen! I’m hoping, you’ve got Duff McKagan and Barret Martin in there if that’s not enough to make you at least curious. But I think if they have a listen and it’s for them, they’ll connect to it.
For fans of Guns ’n’ Roses who stumble across you guys and are looking for more of the same from Walking Papers, what would you say to them?
I would say to expect a guy to be the same person he was when he was 24 years old, that ain’t gonna happen, and that hopefully he’s evolved from that. I mean, I grew up on G ’n’ R, they helped shape what I was, so maybe they can get a thrill out of the fact that it’s just someone like them, who grew up on G ’n’ R, that gets to make music with the people that inspired them.
So finally before you head off, what’s next in line for Walking Papers?
We have a big tour coming up in December, I can’t say what it is yet, but it’s gonna be supporting dates here in Europe, and then we’re gonna start recording our next record in January, hopefully it’ll be out in time for the summer rounds next year!
All words by Kat Ball. More writing by Kat on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive.