Interview: Tattered Angels

Tattered Angels is a three-piece punk band based out of Ventura, California. The band has released one full-length album, taking a total DIY approach. (Head to Tattered Angels’ Bandcamp to check out their debut album.)

I had an awesome opportunity to speak with Jeremey Kinser, guitarist/vocalist for the band. One of my favourite bits of the conversation was Kinser explaining, “The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, Pixies are the best band, the Ramones are the perfect band, but the Clash is the only band that matters.”

We chatted about how the band came together, their album, and how Jeremey’s faith plays a part in the music. Check out the full interview below.

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How long has Tattered Angels been around ?

Well the name, at least, goes back to around 2003 or 2004.  I was still out in my hometown of Visalia, California , out in the Central Valley.  I was in a band called Foot Klan. We’d had a pretty good run with a good local following but it was winding down. Two of the guys and I formed Tattered Angels as a side project going back to more of a rock and roll, Clash-y vibe that had always been my main thing. I really dug the name and was kind of bummed when the band just fizzled out after one show.



Fast forward to about two years ago. I’d been living in Ventura for 7 years I finally got the right guys in play to do the band I really wanted to do. Those guys being the Brazilian dude Stephen, my brother from way back who had moved out here with me and my newer brother Sean who was way overqualified but totally amped and ready to play. Anyway, after throwing around a few names I brought up Tattered Angels, feeling silly that it’s been wasted on one show. The guys liked it and it’s become pretty fitting and definitive of our approach and our sound. So Tattered Angels has really been two bands but this is the one that stuck.

I love the grittiness of Tattered Angels. How would you describe the band’s sound?

That’s it man, it’s tattered. Haha. We joked for a while that Rancid, the Clash and the Replacements had a baby but then that baby grew up and adopted and abused us and that’s what we sound like. Wow, that sounds more harsh as I say it now. I don’t know, I’ve always been drawn to music that’s a little off. Our song “Gloria” describes that. “If it sounds just right that’s because it isn’t.”

What did you start out listening to, and what drew you to punk?

I think in 3rd grade I was way into Bon Jovi and hair metal. Then it was bad 80’s reggae like UB40 and Eek-a-mouse. I don’t mean bad bands but most of the reggae sounds and production was terrible in the 80’s. Early 90’s really broke it all for me though. I was/am huge into Nirvana before I even realized they were actually a punk band or before I even understood what punk was. I remember though,  specifically, staying up late one night when I was in 8th grade and seeing the Pennywise video for “Homesick” on 120 minutes.That was it. I’d never heard anyone play that fast and I loved it.

From there I just dug and dug, reading liner notes and interviews trying to find out who influenced this band and what did these guys listen to. Finally I hit the Clash and it was like finding the holy grail. I’d heard the songs on the radio but putting on London Calling for the first time, knowing that this is supposed to be one of the greatest punk albums of all time. I was confused the first play but then it clicked. This was punk. It became about freedom and in my eyes, a smarter outlook on everything. It was like in that movie They Live where Roddy Piper puts on the sunglasses and sees what the world “really” looks like with the aliens and propaganda and stuff. I guess the Gospel is kind of like that for me too. It’s the lens that shows what’s really happening around me.

What role does your faith take in your music?

I can’t really separate the two. I got saved at a very young age and when I first started writing songs I think I felt kind of guilty that I didn’t write “Jesus this and Jesus that.” That’s just not what came out of me. That wasn’t the kind of art that I liked, so blatant and flat. I learned quickly though, that my relationship with God is the most central part of who I am so whatever art I make it’s going to be in there. There’s a great documentary about  the band the Danielson Famile. You’ve probably seen it. Anyway, he says something in there to the effect of “the Creator and the creative process go hand in hand.” I like that. I think that’s it for me. Others might not see it when they read my lyrics or whatever but that’s okay. I’m just trying to make the best art I know how.

This question randomly came to me right now (haha) but which of Jesus’ disciples do you think was the most punk?

Haha. That’s a funny question. I don’t know. I’m gonna pull the wild card and go with Paul because he had that gnarly conversion moment like I talked about with the Clash. Also, he’s kind of second generation apostle but he doesn’t care, he totally calls out Peter. That seems like a punk attitude. Like how it seems punk for kids to say the Pistols are overrated or the Ramones were a boy band. The difference I guess though would be that Paul was right.

So your album came out last August?

Yeah, something like that. To be honest we haven’t really done much with it and it’s crazy to think it’s been out for a year. The whole point of this band has been to build relationships with other bands and kids in the scene. It’s been very slow going. We haven’t tried to push for more than that. We made the album so we could give it out and maybe make a connection with someone at a show.

 And it was all DIY?

Yeah, we recorded it ourselves in our drummers garage where we practice. The Brazilian dude actually went to school to be a recording engineer so he masterminded the whole thing with whatever mics and equipment he could Mickey Mouse together. I think it captures us pretty well too.

Can you tell me a bit about writing for that record?

I write all the songs. It’s usually kind of a skeleton that I bring to the guys and they help arrange and work stuff out. This album was basically our set list at the time. A couple of the songs were oldies brought over from my old band “Rats in the Hallway” but most of it we wrote as the band was forming. I’m not sure about the process. I usually write it all in my head while I’m at work or driving or whatever. By the time I grab a guitar it’s already written, lyrics, melody, all that.

What is one of your favourite moments on the album? (a lyric, guitar part, etc.)

Well as I said some of the songs I brought over from my old band. The last song, “Grace” is one of them. I didn’t want to put it on the album because I had already recorded it in Rats but the guys really liked it and convinced me. I’d written it years ago about a friend back then struggling with a heroin addiction. Anyway, a good friend of ours overdosed and passed just before Tattered Angels got started (he was actually supposed to be the drummer.) The song has now kind of become a song for him and it’s pretty special to all of us. It sticks out like a sore thumb on the album and totally doesn’t fit but I’m glad it’s there.

What can we expect from a Tattered Angels live show? 

Ummm, passion and honesty. That sounds kind of cheesy but it’s true. We love these songs. That’s why we play them. I know we’re not the most innovative band but this music is us and no one else can do it like us. So much of the album is about being uniquely who God made you to be. So our take is this: before the show and after the show I want to be the most humble loving person I can to everyone around. When we’re on stage though, no one can touch us because no one else is us.  So we’re always going to play all out….oh, and broken strings. You can expect broken strings. It’s a bad habit and I’ve tried everything but I think my sweat just eats right through them.

Any plans for what’s coming next?

I think we decided, being the nerds we are, it’s a dream to have our music on vinyl. I’ve played music for years but never put out a record so hopefully there’ll be at least a 7″ coming out in the near future.

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