After weaving my way through the back corridors of The Mad Hatter, a place Angels of Meth acknowledge as "home base," I find myself sitting in a cryptic, windowless "luxury" suite littered with beer bottles and cigarette butts, all accentuated by the scent of sweat and dirt. Sitting across from me are three disheveled-looking characters (minus drummer "The Gooch") who might be misconstrued as vagabonds — meaning you wouldn't want to cross paths with them in a dark alleyway.
Decorated with piercings, long hair (beards included) and myriad tattoos, the collective known as Angels of Meth has been plotting a calculated takeover of the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati region, and with the recent release of their album Kentucky Reign, the group appears to have perfectly positioned itself for the invasion.
Their origins lay with guitarist/vocalist Tony P. and bassist Reverend Jim who formulated the blueprint and have nurtured the plan from the beginning.
"The idea's been there for about three years," explains Tony. "Once Jim moved here from Baltimore, we knew we had to get something started, and when we got (Adam) Sanders about a year ago, everything was in place."
The band put together a generally collaborative album that incorporates a throng of dark, spirited guitar and bass lines accompanied by Tony's devilishly epic vocal melodies. The sway of the songs has an eclectic, arena-worthy quality to it and is catchy and accessible. The camaraderie and friendships maintained within this posse of drifters (meant in the nicest sense, of course) act as fuel for the songwriting process as each member recognizes the fluidity of the process.
"Jim usually comes in with the heavier, more complicated riffs, and when I bring the catchier licks in, everyone has a way of taking what I wrote and making it bigger," Tony says, detailing the band's writing formula.
"We work through a filtration system almost, in order to make it our own."
"We're never really stuck looking at each other in rehearsal saying, 'Man, no one's got anything to bring to the table," Jim elaborates. "There really aren't any kinks. And if we're not practicing, one of us is always out drinking with one of the others. It's a solid, dysfunctional family."
Angels of Meth put their huge sound on display this past weekend for a CD release show at The Mad Hatter and were able to create and harness a massive fireball of energy that resonated throughout the club. The live shows have an addictive, relentless quality to them and tend to always leave finger marks on the audience's neck, regardless of the musical ambiance created by the other acts on the bill. For example, the band is on the lineup for two very different local fests this summer — the heavy music-heavy Anthem Project Festival and the Indie Rock-favoring Sonic Muse Festival.
"We were only playing heavy shows for a while and that crowd appreciates us, but we also love playing shows with a variety of different bands ... because we can still provoke the same kind of energy from the crowd," explains Jim. "I mean, come on ... I spit like a goddamn fountain on stage, and no one ever leaves. That's gotta say something right?"
The band also received a great deal of love from different factions of the community throughout the process of recording Kentucky Reign.
"This is the first band I've been in where everyone around us has pitched in. There has been a community around us with this album, pushing us to get it out," says Tony. "Places like (design/screen printing studio) Powerhouse Factories and, of course, Frank and The Mad Hatter have chipped in throughout the process. And believe me, we need the help because we are some broke-ass motherfuckers."
ANGELS OF METH (myspace.com/angelsofmeth) play the Anthem Project Festival at Madison Theater on June 30.