Grab your whiskey, get your dancing shoes ready, and take a shot with East of Angels. Folk, punk, harmonicas blaringâ€”these are not only a few of my favorite things, but I had the pleasure to experience them all listening to East of Angels, live at The Viper Room. Whether you are a little bit country or a little bit rock nâ€™ roll, let Kevin Sanchez lure you in with his stomping tambourine feet. I grew up listening to these band members before they collaborated to form this enticing sound. Taking me back to my ska days and punk infused admiration, this band has evolved to create a mix of genres that I have a new found love forâ€”folk punk. Their Los Angeles roots stem the lyrics about the average struggles of life, our sometimes cynical way of thinking, and the encouragement to be more optimistic about the new adventures that await us. Meet the bandâ€¦Lead Singer/Songwriter Kevin Sanchez, Guitarist/Producer Lillard Anthony, Bassist John Tisa, and Drummer Bryan Ducre.
MUSE ALYSSA BAUTISTA: I know you have all had a long musical history, playing in different bands, with different genres. What brought you all together to form East of Angels? And what inspired this eclectic sound?
KEVIN: I met Lillard a long time ago, when he was playing in some great bands, like Putnam Hall, doing a lot of big things. I have been playing in a band with Bryan since 2011; a band called The Dirty Fits. Lillard always heard these acoustic punk songs that I use to write. Heâ€™s the guy that really got this project started. He pulled me aside one day and was like â€˜your sitting on some good shitâ€™. Heâ€™s the one that convinced me to start recording. At the time, I just considered it a little hobby of mine.
JOHN: I only knew Kevin for 2 years. I grew up playing music in Florida. I was a jazz musician and when I came out here, he invited me to play with his other band, The Dirty Fits. I was new to California and wanted to play in a band. And now itâ€™s progressed into East of Angels.
BRYAN: For me personally, playing drums was always like punkâ€¦hit hard, hit fast. I grew up on a lot of punk music. Over the years, itâ€™s weird, Kevin subliminally puts music in your head. He started suggesting music to check out and we all got it. It came down to all of us being together and still having the punk background, pop punk, ska kinda style.
JOHN: That definitely progressed our sound a lot because we all come from so many different backgrounds. Once we all started playing together, I was like â€˜this sounds awesomeâ€™. And thatâ€™s evolving the new songs we are doing.
MUSE: Kevin, I know you have been playing music for a very long time. Who inspired you musically when you were younger, compared to the influences you have had recently creating this EP?
KEVIN: For the sake of not rambling on about all the people who have influenced me in my life, I will say that everything that I love, everything that I listen to, and everything thatâ€™s made me who I am, would have never existed without Joe Strummer. I grew up on Rancid and Operation Ivy, so I gotta bring it all back to Joe Strummer. Acoustic punk and folk punk, itâ€™s just become such an awesome entity. Back in high school, getting into the early Against Me! albums is really what got me into it. Those early Against Me! albums were just so raw and so real and it was just about experiencing punk in a whole new way. Just a snare drum, a guitar, and a whole lot of feeling. From there, I have delved in further and further. Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan are just killinâ€™ the game! They are on a whole other level. We are hoping to go down that road, cause thatâ€™s who we are. We are some dudes that got some shit to say. And hopefully people wanna hear it, cause we are having a good time.
MUSE: There is something about performing off Sunset at The Viper Room that embodies so many musical ventures. How does it feel performing at this particular venue?
JOHN: Stagehands were amazing. They nailed our sound tonight. And itâ€™s funny, but this is the first place I have played at that actually uncovers us with a curtain. It was awesome!
BRYAN: When you play at a venue like this, it inspires you. And we love dives. I grew up playing in dives. But a venue like The Viper Room gives us the boost to bring out our stage presence.
LILLARD: I love The Viper Room. Iâ€™ve played here for many, many years. Always very happy to play here.
MUSE: What can your fans look forward to? You have a self-titled new EP out now, called East of Angels. Any plans for an album release?
LILLARD: We have written quite a bit since the EP. And then, having John Tisa and Bryan join, itâ€™s kinda changed things a little bit. So we will probably look at doing a record at the beginning of next year or so.
KEVIN: Something to be excited about is that next month we are going to shoot our first video, for Still Worth. A big reason why we chose to shoot that song was a great friend of mine heard me play it when I first wrote it in my old garage. It sounded very different at the time. This guy is an amazing director, named Cameron Thrower. He directed a film called Pretty Boy, which Lillard actually scored the film. We are lucky enough to know guys like this to do our first video.
MUSE: Can you give your fans a background of the songs on this EP?
KEVIN: Everything on the EP was written by me and produced by Lillard. Starting with Still Worth, the EP is really about making yourself vulnerable and putting yourself out there again. When you kind of feel shit down from the rest of the world and you kind of just pass on every opportunity. Be it in a relationship, be it a change in your professional career, whatever youâ€™re doingâ€¦We tend to be cynical. I know myself, I especially tend to be cynical. Every time an opportunity presents itself, I tend to be by myself just playing it out in my head and thinking â€˜wow, thatâ€™s how itâ€™s going to end, itâ€™s a waste of time, and letâ€™s not even get into it, cause itâ€™s just going to suck in the endâ€™. Still Worth is about putting that all aside. Put all your cynicism and all your shit in a whole other bag. Letâ€™s be optimistic and letâ€™s see new opportunities and new avenues and see where they are going to go. You never know until you take chances. Drive is about getting through rocky shit. Whether it be a relationship or a band, whatever it is. One More Clock is what everyone has to deal with in Los Angeles. Which is just the struggle. Carpe Diem Please tells you â€˜youâ€™re worth more than that, get going, quit spinning wheelsâ€™. High & Low is about friends that I have lost one way or another. Whether they are actually gone or might as well have been. From different forms of addiction or just going down the wrong road.
If you like good people, good music, and good feels all around, check out East of Angels here locally in Los Angeles. Be sure to â€œsend them some heartsâ€ on social media via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can find their music on iTunes, Spotify, and CD Baby.