The Living '60s

Austin's Black Angels fly high with a gust of drone 'n' roll

"The goal for all of us is to get to that place where things are going and you're there, observing what's going on, and you're in that space and the spirit of it," Hunt says. "Getting to that plane."

"Where you don't think," interjects Bland.

"And the subconscious takes over," adds Maas.

"At every practice, there would be something that would freak us out," Black Angels singer Alex Maas (right) says. Insert obvious drug-related joke here.
"At every practice, there would be something that would freak us out," Black Angels singer Alex Maas (right) says. Insert obvious drug-related joke here.

Their aim with audiences is to transport them to the same realm. "At our shows, it's more like a ceremony rather than we're just coming to play and party," Maas says. "It's more of a gathering, a collective kind of thing."

And even though the sound and subject matter sketch a bleak landscape in gray charcoal, there's also a redemptive aspiration as implied by the title Passover. Yes, the Black Angels want to mesmerize listeners. But their music is also a call to "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" as Maas exhorts in "The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven."

But the group members seem dazed by how many people are already waking to the Angels' call. The folks from Seattle's Light in the Attic Records heard the band while on a vacation trip to Austin and immediately offered them a deal. And even before they released their initial EP, buzz had already bubbled as far as Dallas' Good Records, who jumped onto the Black Angels' bandwagon and sold their music on CD-Rs with copy shop covers.

The first pressing of 10,000 copies of Passover has already sold, and the next batch is moving quickly. Their last gig in Seattle, where famed college station KEXP has embraced the band, sold out six weeks in advance. "I still have a hard time fully understanding what's going on and how big the buzz is," says Maas. "It's something that's happening really fast."

"Late night, every once in a while after a show, we'll just look at each other and go, what? It's insane. It's nuts," says Hunt. He points to their recent appearance at the Wall of Sound Festival 2006: "Everybody was just so gung ho. We were like, 'Holy crap.'"

With Passover slated for U.K. release in September, the Black Angels' buzz now stands poised to possibly break in the trend-setting English market. And after capturing ears across North America, the group has also finally become a hot ticket in their hometown, even landing a spot at September's ACL Music Festival.

"Our goal from the get-go was to make it more than just a local Austin thing," concludes Brand in a rare, outright expression of ambitions. "What we want it to be is worldwide."

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