Updated Tue, Jan 7, 2014 2:19 pm
Since 2009, Angela Perley and her band The Howlin' Moons have toured throughout the U.S., received overseas airplay on the BBC and performed at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
Now, after releasing four EPs, the band--which includes bassist Billy Zehnal, guitarist Chris Connor and drummer Steve Rupp--is preparing to drop its full-length debut, Hey Kid, on Jan. 21. Its single, "Hurricane," is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.com.
To celebrate, the Columbus, Ohio-based group will make their way to Athens, the town that gave Perley her musical start and the subject matter for the album's lead-off track. Fans will get the chance to hear that song and many others on Jan. 10 at Casa Cantina.
WOUB caught up with Perley to talk about her Athens roots, new album and video, and what's ahead for 2014.
WOUB: I have to begin by asking about the song "Athens," particularly the line, "Athens County I hope you know/how you changed my soul/and unchained my heart." What can you tell me about that song and your ongoing relationship with the town?
Angela Perley: I really believe that I found myself, my voice, and developed my songwriting while living in Athens. I had several relationships and breakups that changed and inspired me, and it was just a bittersweet time and place in my life. Athens inspired me to dig more into roots music and it was when music clicked for the first time for me as being my true passion and something that I really needed to embrace and pursue as a career.
WOUB: How did your surroundings influence your writing?
AP: I was drawn and supercharged to write in Athens at all times and spent any chance I got to write and perform. The mixture of the hills and the energy of the town and the college is just something magical. It will always remain special to me because of all the memories I have from those five years in Athens.
(photo: Red Generation Photography)
WOUB: Many of the songs on Hey Kid are upbeat. Even the mid-tempo songs have a certain energy to them. It also sounds like you and the band were having fun in the studio — was that the case?
AP: We had a lot of fun in the studio and basically recorded our favorite live songs. We tried to keep a lot of drum, bass and guitar tracks live and build off that to keep the energy flowing and natural like the live shows. Then we added extra touches of organ, pedal steel and other guitar tracks and vocals to pull things together and make it more artful. Those extra production elements tied things together to make the record pretty old-school in that it is made to be listened to as a whole body of work, complete with the '70s-style reprise at the end.
WOUB: Speaking of fun, it certainly looked like you were having a good time in the new "Hurricane" video. Care to talk a bit about how that was produced?
AP: The video was produced by Vital Film Works and started as a couple crazy ideas I had of including performance artists Button Le Bouton and Snap LaSnap from Columbus (the two dancers with me in the video) and The Amazing Giants (local stilt and fire dancing company). I wanted the video to be fast-paced and fun, so I invited a lot of music friends, fans and family to the fire scene shoot which was a blast. I'm a visual person, so we really tried to create scenes and a storyboard that would capture the mood and energy of the song. Have never had so much fun making a video as this one; I basically danced and laughed the whole time and made everything over the top.
WOUB: Any particular moments from the shoot that stand out?
AP: Button, Snap and I were riding around in the car at night dancing, singing, and headbanging to the song. Keep in mind it was super-cold out, maybe 40 degrees, and on a Monday night. We stopped at a stop sign and I heard someone say, "Angela, is that you?" I looked over and it was my high school English teacher. I had to explain that we were making a music video. I couldn't stop laughing because I realized how crazy we probably looked.
(photo: Red Generation Photography)
WOUB: So what's ahead for you in 2014?
AP: We have a late fall U.K. tour in the works, so really hoping that works out. I'm still doing the band's U.S. booking, so I hope this record catches some ears and helps us do more touring and festivals in the U.S. this spring and summer. We have a great grassroots team working for us and we're really excited to share this record and perform these new songs for everyone.
Friday's show kicks off with local band Keesey, making their live debut at 10 p.m. The group is made up of Athens music veterans, including Chris Keesey, Jeff Redefer, Adam Graham, John Borchard, David McPherson and Bill Rawlins. Keesey will be followed by Angela Perley and The Howlin' Moons shortly after 11 p.m. Cover is $3. For more information, visit Angela Perley's website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.