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Meet Your 33 Black Angels: Many guitars, much noise & good times

article by John Powell

Your 33 Black Angels show up to the club like rock stars, some in dirty plain white T- shirts, others clad in black leather. Their hair is almost long, bangs in their eyes, each of them wonderfully disheveled. Storming out of New York on yet another major tour, the prolific group has just released their fifth album, Moon and Morning Star, another set of moody, brooding, soulful songs drenched in layered guitar and ambient sounds.

Your 33 Black Angels

“It was 28 shows in 30 days,” guitarist Dan Rosato explains about their tour. They played everywhere from Pueblo, Colorado to Toronto, but having put out nearly one record per year, and touring behind each, this is nothing new.

How do they record so much? “Josh [Westfal] writes a lot of songs,” guitarist Adam Gerard shrugs and Dan adds, “For the last few years I was working in a studio in Brooklyn, so I was able to get free or cheap studio time. That really helped as far as financially.” Between the resources, “There’s always new material.”

Tonight, it’s early spring, still chilly, but we sit at a table outside, enjoying drinks. “We were just saying how nice it would be if more venues had outdoor speakers like this,” Keyboardist Jon Reeve mentions, pointing to the speakers in the alley. “Then we thought, if that would happen in Brooklyn, you would walk down the street and you’d be inundated with all kinds of sounds, unable to distinguish one from the other.”

Dan adds, “That’s a big no-no in New York, speakers on the outside. They call it the Mr. Softee law, actually, because those ice cream trucks had their jingles playing so long that they passed a law that said you couldn’t have external sound on any establishment.”

For Your 33 Black Angels, New York is a great place to be a musician. Jon calls it a magical musical wonderland, but more than that, the band- which at its full roster includes four guitars, two drummers, bass, keyboards, and four vocalists- feeds on New York’s weirdness.

For instance, they practice in an old church in Williamsburg. “They throw parties there once in a while so we play there once or twice a year.” Bassist Steve Stapleton laughs. “Yup. It feels like home.”

“That’s one thing that’s difficult in New York,” Adam says about practicing. “You go to different cities around the country, and you meet these people that are playing every day in their basement. ‘You can do that!?’”


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