Hailing from Seattle, supergroup Walking Papers is back with a new album. The band was formed by Jefferson Angell (The Missionary Position, Post Stardom Depression) and features Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, Jane’s Addiction), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season) and Benjamin Anderson (The Missionary Position). The band formed in 2012 when they released their self-titled debut album in 2013 which featured guitarist Mike McCready from Pearl Jam. Their second studio album WP2 (Loud & Proud Records) was released in January. The album was produced by Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Mudhoney) and Martin Feveyear (Mark Lanegan, Kings of Leon, Queens of the Stone Age), and mastered by Chris Hanzsek.
Songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist Angell is best known for his time in Seattle bands Post Stardom Depression and The Missionary Position before forming Walking Papers. Martin is a Grammy award winning producer and multi-instrumentalist who has been a member of both Mad Season and Screaming Trees. He’s a go-to session player in Los Angeles who has recorded with artists such as R.E.M., Stone Temple Pilots, Queens of the Stone Age, and more. Guitarist and vocalist Anderson has been members of bands The Missionary Position and Rorschach Test out of Seattle, and was introduced to music at a very early age which has led him to where he is today. McKagan is the bassist for Guns N’ Roses and has received worldwide success as a member of the iconic band.
Walking Papers’ sophomore album, WP2, is straight ahead rock music that is infused with sounds of the blues. The album perfectly showcases the musicianship of these talented musicians. In fact, the band’s latest effort is gaining excellent reviews from both critics and fans alike. For instance, Rolling Stone described the album as “dark, alternately sensual and sinister.”
Screamer Magazine recently sat down with Angell to discuss his start in music, Walking Papers, and what the band is up to next. “There’s no excuse not to be great anymore,” said Angell. “Everyone now has access to everything related to music, right at their fingertips – every recorded, endless lessons for kids to learn every guitar lick, and the very foundation of music and where it all comes from. In a weird way, I think that raises the bar for what artists need to do with their own work.”
Angell knew from a very early age that music was the foundation in his life, and he was initially exposed to it by his family. His mom was always listening to music so he learned a lot about music genres from her. His first real experience with an instrument was as a child when his mom’s boyfriend brought over a guitar. “Everyone had these KISS trading cards, and I’d never heard KISS, but of course any band that was breathing fire and spitting blood was definitely interesting to a four year old,” he reminisced. The two main songs that stuck with him as a child was Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell and Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis. Between his exposure to those two songs, KISS, and his first experience with a guitar, paved way for him to create a rewarding career out of music. “I definitely was born with it. I just always knew that music was the thing for me to do. I just love the stories and songs. I’m a songwriter first, then I’m probably a musician, and then a singer out of necessity,” he explained.
The members of Walking Papers had all crossed paths before. They got together because most of the band members have known each other a long time. For instance, Angell and Anderson have been friends since they were teenagers. When grunge hit Seattle in the ‘90s they were into bands such as Ministry. “We were kind of doing an industrial thing, so we were in a whole different circle than the grunge bands. We were a lot younger. Ben and I were the youngest guys around,” Angell said. The first time Angell met McKagan he (McKagan) asked if he could come and watch them practice. They quickly became good friends. They called McKagan to see if he wanted to come and play on a track, which he did. They’ve all known each other a long time and at one time or another they all had performed with each other. The rest is history, which created Walking Papers as it is today.
The band has evolved greatly since the debut album. There are several ways that the two are different. “I think the key difference from the first album is that we (Barrett and Angell) made the album before we ever played a show. Then Ben (Anderson) joined to help us pursue the album live,” he said. “The first album was closer to a solo album produced by Barrett (Martin) and then this next record is more of a collective record of what we are with the four of us together. That’s the key difference. Between the first album and the second album we toured Europe nine times and we went to Australia and toured the U.S. a couple of times,” he said. During this time, the band found their strengths as well as their weaknesses. The strengths let the band shine and the weaknesses were swept under the carpet. The band has definitely grown and evolved in many ways since they first formed in 2012.
The beginning of the creation of the album started when Walking Papers got together and recorded three songs in a small session, and the rest they completed in a large session. “We did some demos here and there over the years between the first album and the second album, and that’s when we came up with the new material. We have had the record done for a while, but then Duff (McKagan) went out to do the Guns ‘N Roses tour and I did another record with the band Staticland. We were both bound up in those contracts so we couldn’t knock it out, so it took us awhile to get free from those other obligations,” he said.
Angell is a well-established songwriter who is known throughout the music world. For WP2, he wrote all of the lyrics on his own for the album. Then for about half of the songs, he brought in a strong version of the songs to the other members of the band and then the band would collaborate and work together to create the music that can be heard on the new album. “This one is a little different. Ben (Anderson) brought in a chorus for a song and we built it together, and then for another song Barrett (Martin) brought in a guitar and we built the song off that,” Angell explained. One of the songs is one where Angell and McKagan wrote in Angell’s basement one day while they were goofing around. WP2 was a collaborative effort that the band worked hard on together in order to find their original hard rock blues sound.
“Being a songwriter, you have a filter lyrically. What is a song? A song to me is lyric with a melody and certain chord movements, and it can be interpreted with a rock band…that’s what a song is,” Angell said. “And then there are arrangements of how that song can be performed so I think at a certain point I just live this life with a filter on and everything goes through ‘is this an idea for a song lyric filter?’ and then I process that information. I think it’s a good way to look at the world, so I’m kind of looking for the poetry in everything.”
Next to songwriting, Angell loves performing the music creations live. His favorite song off WP2 to perform live is Death on the Lips, and the band will be performing this and many other hits while touring the U.S., which will be soon. They are currently working on a tour schedule that works around all of their different obligations. For the band’s recent album release show in Seattle, “we booked too small of a venue. It basically sold out overnight,” Angell stated.
So, what does Angell want fans to know about the new album? “They can try before they buy, I suppose, if they want to listen to it. I think it’s an exceptional album. It has the energy of a live show, but it also has the glossy perfection of a studio recording at the same time. I think that’s really rare…the album deals with temptation and redemption. Those songs to me made me almost act like a confidante with issues that maybe are difficult to talk to other people about. I think there are some healing elements to the songs. It’s almost like they are involuntarily empathetic. I think if someone is sitting on the fence about something that this record might actually help them. It’s like a pros and cons list. It’s a really cool record in that way. You can hear the characters in the songs deal with dilemmas and look at that outcome and make your own decision,” he said.
Angell’s entire life has revolved around his passion for music. His motto is to write, record, tour and repeat. He certainly has had his share of experiences in the music business. For those looking to get their foot in the door, he offers this advice: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. You made it if you’re making it. I’m actually grateful that I’ve never experienced some huge windfall of success. I’ve had a really gradual ascension playing small shows and making records at home. Now that I’ve seen both sides, I think that that is the sweet spot,” he said. “A lot of times, everybody thinks that they are going to play at some arena and be happy and that everything in their life is going to make sense, but you don’t even realize that the best shows are playing for a handful of your friends in your hometown when you’re doing your first local road trips. Once you get into an arena you realize that you can’t even see the crowds, and it’s the same every night. Or, you’re at a festival tour where it’s a parking lot every night. Our band has had the really cool opportunity to playing small shows on our own to a couple of hundred people and festivals to over ten thousand people.” Walking Papers have played huge crowds with bands such as Aerosmith, and then shows on their own at smaller venues. Angell loves the atmosphere and energy of the smaller shows.
“I think a lot of musicians really think that they have to get to the top to feel validated or gratified but actually the small places are where all the energy is, and where everything is fresh and new,” Angell said. “I don’t want to hear about a band in private jets. I want to hear about a band that is in the practice room getting sweaty and they got dreams. I don’t want to hear about some jaded assholes who are angry because their record didn’t debut at number one. I want to hear about bands that are excited about making their first record.”
Be sure to check out the new album. Music fans will be glad they did. Walking Papers has definitely pushed the envelope with the sound of their latest album. Since they are currently working on scheduling tour dates, be sure to look for them coming in a city near you.
Band members include:
Jefferson Angell – Vocals, Guitar
Barrett Martin – Drums, Vibes, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass
Benjamin Anderson – Keyboards, Backing vocals
WP2 track listing:
01. My Luck Pushed Back
02. Death On The Lips
03. Red & White
04. Somebody Else
05. Yours Completely
06. Hard To Look Away
07. Before You Arrived
08. Don’t Owe Me Nothin’
09. This Is How It Ends
10. I Know You’re Lying
11. Into The Truth
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Article Updated: 03-02-18