Still Rock'n'Roll To Me

1 August 2012 | 2:30 pm | Matt O'Neill

You know, I live in Nashville, so I’m surrounded by amazing musicians. I know I’m not the greatest guitar-player. I’m confident that I’m good at playing rock’n’roll but what I really think I have is a style

Eddie Angel doesn't mince words. He isn't rude or obnoxious. He's simply direct. He'll freely admit, for example, that his style as a guitarist has been almost exclusively influenced by a single decade of music history. He boasts a relatively broad palette – touching upon rockabilly, blues, surf, garage and jazz – but Eddie Angel is only really concerned with one particular era and isn't apologetic about it.

“Oh, I don't see myself as a varied musician at all. It's all branches of the same tree – mid-twentieth century rock'n'roll,” the guitarist admits candidly. “As far as I'm concerned, rock'n'roll happened within a single decade. It began in 1955 and ended in 1965. I don't actually think my guitar playing has been influenced by any record past 1965. In my mind, that's sort of the cut off for music I'm interested in.

“That doesn't just go for rock music, either. Jazz, folk, blues...You name the genre, I probably won't be interested in much of it post-'65. I just don't think it's as good,” he explains. “I understand that's an opinion a lot of people would disagree with and that's fine. I'm really just generalising. As far as my guitar-playing goes, though, it really is just mid-twentieth century rock'n'roll.”

He's an interesting contradiction. In a number of ways, actually. Already strangely anachronistic (influenced by the '50s and '60s, began playing in the '70s, found success in the rockabilly boom of the '90s), Angel's career has been consistently decorated with surprising kinks and leftfield developments. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Melrose Place and Sex And The City have all featured his music, for example.

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“Yeah, I'm surprised by it all. Pleasantly surprised,” Angel reflects of his career. “And, really, very lucky to be able to do this at all. I get to make a living playing music I like – and I know that's particularly rare for the kind of music that I like to play. I'm kind of two minds about it, though. You know, I'm very aware of how rare it is to be able to do what you love – but I worked for years before anything happened for me. I made sacrifices. I worked hard.”

Most intriguing is his idiosyncratic approach as a musician. Firmly rooted in genres dressed in nostalgia and interpretation (his appearance at Greazefest this year will see him perform a tribute set to pioneering guitarist Link Wray in addition to a performance with his band The Planetrockers), Angel is nevertheless a dedicated songwriter. Unlike many of his peers, he insists on writing his own material rather than revisiting classics.

“Oh, songwriting has always been my priority. Always. I actually didn't realise that was unusual until just recently. I thought every musician wanted to be a songwriter – I didn't realise there were guys out there who had never even tried to write a song,” the guitarist muses. “I think that's something that sets me apart. You can apparently hear it in my guitar-playing, too.

“You know, I live in Nashville, so I'm surrounded by amazing musicians. I know I'm not the greatest guitar-player. I'm confident that I'm good at playing rock'n'roll but what I really think I have is a style,” he elaborates. “Somebody heard me playing recently and kind of analysed my guitar-playing for me – they told me I played guitar like a songwriter. The way I handled my melodies, the phrasing or whatever. I think that's what sets me apart.