Seattle, WA-based group, Staticland, released their self-titled debut album on May 6th via UDR/Warner and with it unleashed some killer blues rock tunes! Produced by Grammy award winner Vance Powell (Jack White, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, Seasick Steve), we managed to get group writer, vocalist and guitarist, Jeff Angell, to share a slew of details about the new recording.
What was your mindset when you wrote the songs for the new album? Angell: My mindset was turning obstacles into opportunities. Life at the time was a lot like finding oneself finishing a marathon only to find the finish line had been moved a few miles down the track. For me, adversity has always been a major motivator. So I dug my feet in and rolled up my sleeves and these are the songs I came up with. I think the underlying theme of the record is to leave the past where it belongs and to throw yourself into the present. I think it might hold a person’s hand if they are struggling with a similar dilemma. I like the idea that it requires a dilemma to develop a person’s character. So why not embrace it? Also I was trying to tap into my subconscious and I always kept a dream journal because I found that imagery fascinating, so a started to bring some of those images into the songs. A few of the songs are basically my describing those dreams or interpreting them.
What inspired the album cover depicting a fallen boxer? Angell: I have a collection of old 8 and 16mm films. Ben [Anderson] and I were going through some of them looking for inspiration when we came across the image of the boxer who was down for the count. Most people think the guy is knocked out, but I like to think that he is about to get back up and start swinging! I've always rooted for the underdog and I think at one time or another we have all felt like that guy. I think that's what makes it a compelling image. It coincides with the theme of the record.
Your song titles—such as "Everything Is Wrong", "The World Is Gonna Win" and "Tomorrow’s Chore"—underlines your distinctive world view. Where does it come from? Angell: Music has always been a place for me to sort myself out. I guess I use the writing process as a way to work out whatever it is that's troubling me at the moment. It also helps me form my opinion about events and scenarios outside myself. I think it's a pretty healthy outlet compared to some of the ways I might deal with those issues if I didn't have the songs. So to me maybe the songs are therapy, anger management.
Can you describe the musical chemistry of the band? Angell: Ben thinks, I feel. He likes cats, I'm a dog person. I'm a big picture guy and Ben is more likely to be looking into a microscope. Somehow our differences make for a productive relationship because we end up having both ends of the spectrum covered. We get along really well that way. It's our trick, I think, to have me, primarily a blues singer songwriter, challenged by an ambient instrumentalist. When we find something we both can stand behind we know it's working on multiple levels. Josh [Fant] is a perfect drummer because his primary focus is to serve the song and he has the versatility to do that in a variety of different ways. I've played with him in the past and he has always been one of my favorite drummers to create with. He tries to find a way to make the song work rather than use it to put himself on a pedestal. Less fill, more kill I suppose.
Check out the song "Everything Is Wrong"
Both your guitar work and vocals have not only power and skill, but expressive deep feelings. Can you talk about how your life experiences play into this? Angell: When I was a kid, things in my life were pretty chaotic. I sheltered myself by leaning on my guitar and by scribbling into a journal. I guess I'm still carrying on that way. Music has been a good friend to me and I've always felt like it was a safe place for me to direct my energy.
If you overheard one fan talking to another after leaving a show of yours, what would you like to hear them say about the gig and how they describe the music? Angell: I'd want to hear them say that it was one of the best shows they'd ever seen and that we expanded their idea of what a rock 'n roll band could be by turning the art form into a religious experience. Yeah, that sounds nice! I'd hope they described it as genuine.
Describe your best night on tour, ever. And…describe your worst night on tour, ever. Angell: The best night would be playing our own sold-out show in an intimate venue to an enthusiastic crowd with a really short drive home. Of course, all gear loading would be provided by the venue! The worse night would be having our van and gear stolen somewhere far away from home and then being held up for the merch money. I don't even like to think about that. Runs a sick feeling through my entire body.