Wow! 10 years has flown by so fast! We can’t believe that it has been a whole decade since The Black Angels released their bone-rattling debut album Passover. This Saturday (10.15.16), the band will be at the Desert Daze festival in Joshua Tree playing the album in its entirety! It means a lot to see them perform this, and out of the 200 or so releases we’ve put out, this is still one of our all-time favorites. Below is an interview from our latest zine where we invited bandmates Christian Bland and Alex Maas to reflect on Passover‘s decade anniversary and to see what they’re up to these days:
LITA: It’s been ten years since Passover was released. What do you recall most vividly about the process of making of that album?
CB: I remember the excitement of recording our first album and finally getting our musical ideas down on tape. Alex and I had been creating music together since we were teenagers, so it was amazing to see the culmination of all of our years creating together take the form of Passover.
AM: The thing I remember most was the sense of freedom while making the record; there was no right and wrong, just exploration. You could compare the excitement to an astronaut being in space for the first time, weightless. I compare it to the The Bad News Bears—we had been traveling around playing practice games, and then we were given a chance by LITA, and the whole team got drafted into the MLB. This was our first game.
LITA: Can you talk a little bit about the album artwork for Passover?
AM: I remember our first manager, Brian Jones, and Christian working on this artwork while we where on a west coast tour. Can still see them working on it in the back of our bumpy van. Christian was a high jump pro and was inspired by the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Set a goal and jump over it.
CB: It’s inspired by the 1968 Mexico City Olympics artwork. The ’68 Olympics have always interested me. I used to high jump in college, and this was the year that Dick Fosbury invented the modern style of high jumping called the “Fosbury Flop.” I’ve also always loved optical art, and the ’68 Olympics artwork reflected the times when op art was gaining popularity. ‘60s art has always been a huge inspiration for me, so I thought it would be cool to try and create a Black Angels cover in the style of the ’68 Olympics. I remember coming up with the concept in Tallahassee, Florida while we were on tour, which was full circle for me, since I studied advertising/graphic design at Florida State. Our manager at the time, Brian Jones, actually put all the artwork together. He spent many hours putting it together. I remember we’d all fall asleep on someone’s floor late at night, and he’d be hard at work making sure it was just right.
LITA: What are y’all working on these days, both as a group and individually?
CB: We’re working on the 5th Black Angels album and hoping to have it out by the Fall of 2016. We’re also getting the 9th annual Levitation Festival up and rolling. We’re excited to have Brian Wilson play the entire Pet Sounds album for its 50th anniversary. We’re putting together a Pet Sounds compilation with our record label, the Reverberation Appreciation Society, with artists on the label covering the songs. It’ll be out by the time of the festival.
AM: We are currently working on our 5th full length as a band. We have been doing some score stuff here and there and got asked to do some original music on a show called High Profits, which came out earlier this year. We also are gearing up for the 9th year of Austin Psych Fest/Levitation Festival which has an insane lineup. As for myself, Brett Orrison, our old front-of-house engineer and I started a production team a two years ago called Water Moccasin. We have been very busy in that time co-producing Ride Into The Sun, Think No Think, Digital Wild, and several other really great bands, all totally different sounding bands. We scored a few documentaries and did our first full-length film, Booger Red, about the Mineola sex scandal. I’ve just been collaborating with as many people as possible lately which has really opened up my mind. I’m ready to make a new record after having explored so much since our last LP.
LITA: What inspires you as artists?
AM: People, conversations, fear, the unknown, traveling, the endless search for the perfect sound/tone/song/taste.
CB: Bo Diddley & Buddy Holly. Good music. Creative People. Great design. Weird instruments. Books. Antiques. Garbage Pail Kids.
LITA: You’re traversing light years in the DeLorean, and the clock is set to April 11, 2006, Passover’s initial release date: what advice would you impart to yourselves as a young band looking back on the past decade?
CB: I’d tell myself to carry my Rickenbacker onto the airplane on May 23, 2015 instead of checking it in, and like my Dad always tells me, “Don’t do anything stupid.”
AM: I would probably try to warn myself about certain relationships with friends and family that will eventually come to an end, advise myself on a few winning Powerball numbers, and tell myself that I’m on the right path and to remember making music should be fun.
LITA: Does the content of Passover still seem relevant to you today?
CB: We try to write songs that have more than one meaning, so I think Passover is definitely still relevant today, and hopefully it will be until the last Passover.
AM: Absolutely. Lyrically, it set us on a path of choosing to speak about things that are important to us. Sonically, it laid the groundwork for everything we have done since. Being that it was our first record, there were new feelings and emotions I had never felt before. It’s strange to think you can go your whole life and never feel a certain way until one day it happens. One day, all of a sudden, you find out that you can fly, and you never realized it.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIANA PURSER / THE BLACK ANGELS – PASSOVER [LITA 018] CD/2XLP AVAILABLE NOW