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Interview: Mike Angel of Bigfoot Yancey
Posted April 28, 2017 by Brett Alderman
WRITTEN BY
Brett Alderman
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April 28, 2017
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This weekend, Indianapolis' Bigfoot Yancey is releasing their latest full-length album, Hills. I made my way to meet Mike Angel at Fountain Square’s Square Cat Vinyl. We drank beer and discussed the recording process for Hills, band fistfights and spirit animals.

With two sold out CD release shows this weekend, Hills is bound to pop up on your radar. Recorded at Melt Audio Indianapolis, the album consists of twelve well-written bluegrass/Americana songs, presented in one lush collection.

 

Brett Alderman: How long has Hills been in the works?

Mike Angel: I think we started recording it in February or January of last year, so it’s been a long time in the making. We were trying to wait for snow to record, so we decided to record in the wintertime where you normally expect snow. Whenever it was January or February, we went to Melt Audio. That’s Cortland Foxwoth’s place. He’s our engineer on the album. I remember it was like 70 and sunny in February or something like that. It always feels better recording when it’s snowing outside for some reason to me.

 

BA: Did you record the entire album in the studio? I think last time we spoke you were doing some recording in a living room or something, right?

MA: That was in his living room. He has a studio built in his basement and then a handful of the songs; I can’t even tell you which ones anymore. I think maybe the slower ones we did in his living room primarily because I was yearning for sunlight. We were stuck in this basement that was fucking driving me nuts, so we set up acoustic panels and microphones and stuff upstairs.

BA: When you started recording, were most of the songs already flushed out or did you write during that process?

MA: A lot of these songs are older than me and the boys have been playing together. I had written on the road, spending a lot of time down by the border in Texas, in the desert in general. I was living in my van with my dog. I wrote a lot of songs [there] so I came back with all those. Some of the songs on this album we just played by a campfire together.


BA: Is it a collection of songs, or is there an overall theme?

MA: It’s not like a concept album or anything like that. I guess the theme is my moods over the years; heartbreak, a lot of women, hatred for the government.

 

BA: So this is a personal album for you?

MA: Yeah, all the songs are personal. They’re all pertinent to my life and my experiences, mostly about me and being drunk, or doing drugs, or being with different women, being stuck in a van in the desert.

 

BA: Did opening up Square Cat Vinyl delay the recording process at all?

MA: Yes, it did. Once the building of Square Cat started, everything else halted. I dedicated 24 hours of the day to this place. I was sleeping here and just working my ass off. I got to know a lot of people though, so I think the networking really helped us out in the long run. I got to meet you because of this place as an example.

BA: Any stories from recording where things turned out differently than planned in a good way?

MA: We broke out into a fistfight with each other once just from being around each other so much. We were drunk and rowdy, but it’s… that happens from time to time and the next day, everything’s fine. Anybody who’s partied with us extensively has seen us all fight each other at some point. Yeah, we wrote a couple of new songs, finished new songs while we were there, the song “Acid Rain” and the song “Blue Clouds”. That was the first time we played them together, and we didn’t hear them again until we got copies of the CD. It was kind of emotional to hear something we started working on a year ago.  

 

BA: The album is coming out this month, right?

MA: April 28. We have two nights here at Square Cat, and they both sold out.

 

BA: Awesome. Obviously, the CD I’m sure will be available. Any other special things you guys have planned?

MA: The vinyl is coming out in July. It’s on the way. We’re working on some other promotional things. We have t-shirts and stickers, all that stuff.  

 

BA: Obviously, with the shop, your full time gig is pretty demanding. Do you guys see yourself playing outside of the area much?

MA: Yeah, we’re playing a lot of Indiana music festivals this year like well, obviously the Virginia Avenue Folk Fest because I’m one of the founders of it. We’re playing the John Hartford Memorial Festival. We’re playing the River Roots Festival. We’re headlining the GnawBrew festival this year. I think there’s a couple of other ones right here, and those all have decent size acts, so I feel like people are certainly going to notice us. Because of all the buzz around the album, people are reaching out to us and offering shows.

BA: Is there any significance to the visuals of Hills?

MA: We were just kind of silly one day talking about our spirit animals. Obviously, the bear would represent me as the largest, strongest member of the group. We’ve called Jerin ‘Wild Cat Kelly’ ever since we had a fight months a long time ago where he went berserk and attacked us like a wild cat. You hang out with Loran, you’ll see the wolf on him, and Kevin thinks he’s a turtle for some damn reason. The other things are just kind of representative of us, We’re kind of hillbillies, we go shooting, we drink a lot of beer and are just woodsy kind of guys because we camp a lot. The name of the album, Hills, comes from the hills of Brown County. That’s where my family’s from.

 

BA: The CD looks like a map?

MA: Yes, topographic map of Yellow Wood Forest, a place where we used to play campfires together, Loran and Jerin, and I, so it all kind of ties into us. [Brown County is] a beautiful place. My family has been there since the beginning.

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