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With Friends like These…Introducing the Walking Papers

Last Updated 9/30/2012 11:43:08 AM

By: Troy Michael

With Friends like These…Introducing the Walking Papers

Photos by Charles Peterson

With Friends like These…Introducing the Walking Papers“Supergroup” seems like an overused term to describe any band with a group of celebrated musicians coming together on a project. Crosby Stills & Nash, definitely; Mad Season was pretty bad ass; and I hate to say it, but Damn Yankees even found the charts with their radio-friendly rock.

But for every successful supergroup there are a handful of…well, not so successful supergroups. Anyone remember Brides of Destruction? How about Free Kitten? No? Well, maybe Mad for the Racket or The Last Hard Men or even Eyes Adrift or….I could go on and on.

So why would five of Seattle’s most heralded musicians come together to form The Walking Papers, an out-of-this-world…dare I say it….supergroup with a blues-based rock sound? Well, simply for the love of the music.

The Walking Papers came together with legendary drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Tuatara, Skin Yard, etc.) and guitarist Jeff Angell (The Missionary Position, Post Stardom Depression).

“My band the Missionary Position did some dates with Barrett's project at the time, Big High,” Angell said. “Then we bumped into each other again at SXSW and skipped the festival to peruse good BBQ. We made fast musical friends, and The Missionary Position invited him to play some upright bass and percussion on our album Consequences.  Barrett had mentioned he would like to do some blues-based rock stuff and asked me if I'd like to jam. Naturally, I said yes. As long as he brought the mesquite.”

If those two heavy hitters weren’t enough, Angell and Martin called upon legendary bassist Duff McKagan (Guns ’n’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, and Loaded) to handle the bass.

With Friends like These…Introducing the Walking Papers

I've known Duff for about a decade. He's been real supportive of my previous bands Post Stardom Depression and The Missionary Position. Duff's an amazing, multi-faceted dude, but sometimes he needs a little help around the house,” Angell, who is also a carpenter said, “being that he hasn't had lots of time to focus on his carpentry skills. You know, being an international player and all. So I like to make myself available for him if he needs to fix a little dry rot, add a French door or replace some siding. I think he thought that was fair trade for some bass playing.”

When the trio went into the studio to record their self-titled debut they also brought in iconic guitarist Mike McCready (Pearl Jam, Mad Season, Tres Mts) to jam on a couple cuts, and Martin and Angell also brought in Benjamin Anderson, Dave Carter, Dan Spalding, and Ed Ulman to add keyboards and horns.

Although it seems like The Walking Papers just appeared out of Seattle’s misty air, the trio did have a plan up their collective sleeves, even with their busy schedules with other bands. 

“Seattle isn't the romantic rock ’n’ roll city it once was, but calling it ‘nowhere’ is kind of offensive,” Angell joked. “Actually, we had a process that made the songs happen rather quickly. If I told you what that was I'd have to kill you though. Really though, maybe eight or nine rehearsals. And we got to it. The lyrics took a while longer, as they often do. So I did the vocals at my friend Chad's studio behind ‘The Mix’ in Georgetown, as well as my basement.”

With Friends like These…Introducing the Walking PapersWith Angell and Martin’s music pedigree and tapping into their influences of blues, rock, punk and jazz, the songwriting process of the 11 songs on the debut came rather quickly for the group.

“I had a couple of the songs hanging around for a while, but Barrett resurrected them. Most of the songs came from us doing what we do best, just jamming. I'd have a riff or he'd have a beat, and we just threw the first idea we had at them. Barrett diligently recorded our rehearsal, and it was pretty obvious which ones were worth pursuing. I then went home and mined my journals for the lyrics. I think this is my favorite way to work.”

With Angell, Martin and McKagan having such a musical history, they have brought their signature sound to The Walking Papers, and by the sound of the new record they have all meshed very well.

“I think even above mastering one’s instrument or their craft, the most important thing for an artist to develop is a style or a voice of their own. Any similarities to The Missionary Position mean that I am getting closer to what I am trying to achieve musically, and I take that as an incredible compliment.”

With everyone being a multi-instrumentalist – McKagan plays guitar and fronts his other band Loaded – there was no question of who would be fronting Walking Papers and handling the guitar work.

“Duff does what he likes. He seems to like the idea of just playing bass. As you are aware, he is one of the best rock ’n’ roll bass players to shake the ass of the planet. So who am I to tell him what to do?”

With the Martin, McKagan, and McCready all being legendary musicians, it was easy for Angell to get a little star-struck while in the studio with his fellow band members. Just think about looking over and you are playing with members of Guns ’n’ Roses, Screaming Trees and Pearl Jam.

“Sometimes we would be playing live, and I’d look around and see Duff, Barrett and McCready and think, ‘Holy shit, how did this happen?’ It’s truly an honor to play with these guys. Humbling and validating at the same time. I may not have a swimming pool or a sports car, but having some of musical heroes consider me as a musician is a positive that’s simply indescribable.”

Angell continued, “Duff told me once about how he was jamming with Cheap Trick and how it was unbelievable to be playing with his childhood heroes. I looked him in the face and said ‘I know exactly what you're talking about.’"

With all the star power The Walking Papers has enlisted it begs to be asked, is this just a one-off project or could fans expect more? The scheduling alone would take a magician to work around.

“We'd like to take it further. We already have some new ideas that sound inviting. Barrett has probably already booked studio time because he has a refreshing, unshakable faith,” Angell said. “Me? I'd like to let them marinate a little bit so it's not all just inspiration. I think the perspiration is also a good quality in the rock ’n’ roll. Also we are hoping to make it more of a band effort if Duff can come up with enough chores around the house to make it worth his while.”

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Recent Comments
Barboza shall rock this evening.
Posted By: Max C on 10/5/2012 2:46:18 PM
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