Walking Papers, the Seattle-based band that features Jefferson Angell (The Missionary Position), Benjamin Anderson (The Missionary Position), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) will release their moody and carnal sophomore album, WP2 on Friday, January 19.
The new album is a culmination of groove-infused, songwriting maturity and the result of nearly three years of touring throughout Europe and North America. Although rooted in blues, soul, and classic rock, WP2 delivers deeper musical exploration to the band’s ever-increasing fan base.
AXS recently spoke with Angell about the new Walking Papers album and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How does WP2 compare to some of your previous work?
Jeff Angell: The one thing that’s exceptional about this album is the fact that we've toured and played so many shows together. It really captures the live and visceral energy of a band at the top of their game but at the same time, still has some gloss and ambiance of a studio recording. It’s a self-indulgent studio experience with the best of both worlds.
AXS: What’s your typical songwriting process like?
JA: I'm a lyric guy. Music to me is more spontaneous. Music is the body and lyrics are the head, but you need both to validate each other. I usually go with my gut on music, and the inspiration (the 1%), happens almost instantly. Then it becomes a matter of hammering down the lyrics, which is the other 99%.
AXS: Do you draw inspiration for your lyrics from life experience?
JA: I've known a lot of characters in my life, and some of them have certainly inspired me. At the same time, I have a filter on everything that’s happening. There’s a lot of characters in these songs, and maybe some of them are a reflection of myself. It’s all about sitting on the fence and looking at each side and being at the apex of making a decision. Sometimes, it’s what you want to do and other times it’s what the world allows you to do.
AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “Death On The Lips”. What can you tell me about it?
JA: When this record was coming together (and that song in particular), I started to see a common thread: temptation and redemption. When you’re on the road, that lifestyle invites you to make bad decisions. I wasn't struggling with it, but I was aware of it, and it got my head thinking about things I’ve done in my past and about being grateful for not being in that world anymore.
AXS: “My Luck Pushed Back.”
JA: There’s this one line in that song that reminded me a lot of when I was a teenager and having to take the bus everywhere with my friends. We'd all be up to no good, and then be burned out and exhausted coming home on the bus. It was terrifying. I knew it would eventually end up in a song. I also liked the idea of pushing your luck until your luck pushed back.
AXS: “I Know You’re Lying.”
JA: Hasn't everyone felt that way before? [laughs]. When you’re having a disagreement with someone it’s like, “So, when are you telling me the truth? I know you're lying, but I'm just not sure at what point that is.” There’s probably a lot of people who can relate to that one.
AXS: “Red And White.”
JA: That song has a real romantic vibe. Benjamin always had this piano progression he was playing at warm ups, and one day I said, “Man, you have got to let me have my way with that one.” So, the two of us got together in my basement with no distractions and hammered it out. On the freeway, when you see the cars coming and going at night, you see the red and white lights. I started thinking about how a lot of times we're all wondering if we’re coming or going.
AXS: Did you always know that you wanted to have a career in music?
JA: Oh, yeah. I was born with it. But it was always about the stories. As a young kid even before I was in school, I was already trying to write. Songs really capture it best, though. Because you can say in three verses what it takes a novel three hundred pages to say. That always intrigued me.
AXS: What excites you the most about the new album and this next phase of your career?
JA: The thing I’m most looking forward to is letting people take the songs and enjoy them. Sometimes, a lyric will resonate with someone, and it’s nice to see how something you did impacted someone else’s life in a powerful way. Maybe I psycho-analyze myself when I write songs, but I think when people listen it sometimes helps them. It's almost like involuntary empathy. I don’t write songs that make people feel chipper. The songs I write sometimes deal with the stuff people have a hard time discussing, but I’m happy they do that. Music has magical qualities.