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Music

Black Angels frontman Alex Maas discusses Roky Erickson’s revival

The Black Angels perform with Roky Erickson on the East Coast for the first time

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During their 2008 association, Erickson’s management also offered the Black Angels the opportunity to record some of his unreleased songs. They recorded almost a dozen of them, but the venture fizzled. Maas insists the band never lost interest.

“I think they just kind of lost funding. And Roky’s camp kind of ended up doing similar projects with other bands, I guess.” (Erickson recorded a stirring, widely acclaimed album with Okkervil River, 2010’s True Love Cast Out All Evil.)

The project was shelved, until now. When the Angels discovered they were rejoining Erickson on the road, Maas says the band had one thought: “We’re not gonna go on tour without some of these songs on hand with us, you know, because it’s been since 2008.” So, they got back in the studio and finished a 7-inch record for this tour.

Because of both his talent and the fact that – by a mountain of wild odds – it shouldn’t have happened, this opportunity to see Roky Erickson perform is that exceedingly rare kind. Instead of becoming another Syd Barrett tale, one of psychedelic rock’s defining icons has become one of music’s most redemptive comebacks.

“When we were playing music with Roky, it was very interesting to see how music kind of brightened him up and made him more alive and made him more clear in thought,” Maas says. “I would like to see his legacy translate in a musical, therapeutic way. … Roky’s living proof of somebody [for] whom music will, at the end of the day, save him. And I think that’s true for a lot of people.”

Related: Album Reviews: Kinski, Josh Rouse and Black Angels

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