Gang of Thieves: The Angelica Interview
photography by Hilary Swift
“I’ll play you one with horns,” Mike Reit says, enthusiastically pulling out his phone and thumbing through his playlist. It’s a warm evening on a busy street and four of the six Gang of Thieves have sat down to eat burritos.
“This song is called ‘Coco Mocha’, and it’s about a type of coffee called cocococoamochahoneymapleganja coffee, which we made in the town of Covolo, where we have close friends and family, where we go to relax and have California time. This guy there, the same guy from Dinosaur Sandwich Party: ‘In the little town of Covolo, man with a smile and a simple flow…’ That guy makes the best cup of coffee you’ll ever have. It’s his thing. Every morning he makes one brew. If you’re here for it, good. If not, he doesn't make it any other time. He heats the water up, but doesn’t let it boil, ‘cuz otherwise it’ll burn the coffee. It’s perfect coffee. I had all this stuff: Coconut oil, honey, maple, cocoa powder…and I put it all in the coffee. I was stoked. This is cocococoamochahoneymapleganja coffee. His girlfriend was like, ‘Oh, that sounds like a song.’ I said, 'Oh! It is a song!' Half a year later and here it is.”
Bring on horns and a reggae backbone, to a song wholly Gang of Thieves, but not like anything else they’ve ever made before. It’s four years and three albums into a solid career for the rockers.
Having toured and raged, the band has added Deven Massarone on drums and Leonard Sokol on guitar. The original brethren, Mike Reit on vocals, Nick Wood on guitar, and Tobin Salas on bass, make up a pack of hungry rockers. Each song has splintering guitar, heavy drums, funky bass, and a wide range of vocal fury. Their songs are fun and positive. They talk about taking it easy, about cutting loose.
It only makes sense that they ended up in Berkeley, California to record their new album with one of the west coast’s hottest engineers. “Cocamocha” is just a taste of the amazing music G.O.T. continues to make. Tonight they’re hanging out with their PR manager, Aron, to talk about the album, and of course, for the Gang, it's no straight forward yarn:
Tell me about the guy you recorded the album with.
Mike Reit: Michael Rosen is an engineer in the Berkley area. He’s also a teacher. That’s how we hooked up with him. My cousin, Ali- well, Alex Riddle. Nobody calls him Ali. Everyone calls him Alex or Riddle. He helped us do our Riddle EP and he hooked us up with Michael Rosen. When we went to the next class, he told us he wanted to do some work with us!
Tobin Salas: He kept using “Sexy Star Circus”. After we went in and recorded with him, he kept using it for his classes. He kept hearing it and hearing it and thought, “These guys are good!” [Laughs]
Mike: That’s literally what he did. He called us on the phone and was like, “I’m thinking about you guys!”
Tobin: He used to work in a bunch of big studios around here, which is partially why he was working with so many big acts, because he used to work on some major label. That’s why he worked with Less Than Jake in Florida. And he was working at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. That’s where he did Santana and Rancid.
What a life! His job is to work with some great people.
Mike: Mike: He was saying that: “Wow, I can’t believe how lucky I got. I’ve been doing this since I was 16. I thought, I’m not very good at playing music but I want to be involved in music, so what can I do?”
Nick: He made it seem so easy, when he was explaining it. He was like, “When I was 14 years old, the two things that mattered to me in life were smoking weed and music, and I didn’t see much of a future in smoking weed.” [Laughs]
And you recorded a full album with him.
Tobin: 10 songs.
Mike: We went to his personal studio in Berkley. You walk around some weird looking building. It’s kind of dirty.
Nick: There’s this huge metal gate. No address for it.
Mike: Then you walk in and there’s the nicest studio you’ve ever seen.