Sparkmarker/Pelican Offshoot San Angelus Find Success in Long-Distance Music Making
Published Dec 20, 2013San Angelus, an emotionally charged rock band whose latest incarnation features guitarist/vocalist Kim Kinakin (ex-Sparkmarker), drummer Larry Herweg (Pelican) and bassist Jahmeel Russell (Red Vienna, ex-KEN Mode, ex-Kittens), is proof that long-distance relationships can work.
The band started in 2009 with Kinakin and former guitarist Mark Holcomb (ex-Undertow, ex-Shift) meeting Herweg at a These Arms Are Snakes/Narrows show in Hollywood when Kinakin was living there and working as a graphic designer at the Los Angeles offices of the Nettwerk Music Group.
"Somebody at the show was like, 'Oh, you were in Sparkmarker? Do you know Larry from Pelican? He's a big Sparkmarker fan. I have to find him for you, he'd like to meet you,'" Kinakin recalls in an Exclaim! interview. "At the time, I didn't even know who Pelican was, so this girl introduces us and Larry says, 'We should start a band,' and I was like, 'Fuck yeah.'"
The next week the newly formed band, also featuring current Narrows and former Sparkmarker guitarist Jason Craig at the time, were jamming and writing songs together and it "flowed really, really quickly," says Kinikan. But a couple months after forming, Kinakin returned to his Vancouver home, hoping that somehow San Angelus could continue.
"When I moved away from L.A. I didn't think we could maintain the scope of the band. I guess I was coming from an old-school way of how to do bands," says Kinakin. "But with technology and being able to share files, and just to be able to keep in contact with each other, and having those opportunities to be able to meet in different cities for events or concerts, and being able to go a couple of days early to jam… just to keep little nuggets of energy. And when we did that we were all really into it."
Over the course of the next three years, San Angelus wrote and recorded their debut album, Soon We'll All Be Ghosts, which was released earlier this year on Kinakin's own Amber & Wool Music, with a deluxe packaging edition due out tomorrow (December 21). "It's been a journey bringing this recording together, that's for sure."
The deluxe package is a limited-edition run of 100 CDs that includes a tin box that's been hand-stamped and numbered by the band, as well as a 42-page full colour booklet. Kinakin says putting together the deluxe packaging brought him back to this youth in a big way.
"It's about making a package for the true fans, and the record collectors, and the ones who want to feel something, so we decided to do a small, small amount and go back to the DIY/punk rock thing. So, here I am, going back to being a teenager and folding 'zines and stuff like that. And now we can do print-on-demand and do smaller quantities as needed. The hand stamping of the tin takes an incredible amount of time for me to do, which is why there will only be 100 of those. We pressed 1,000, did most of them in a cheaper eco package, and put the last 100 aside for the deluxe packaging."
You can buy the deluxe package here and watch a video displaying what's in store at the bottom of the page.
As for the album's 12 tunes, fans of the members' other bands won't be disappointed. It's riff-based alt-rock in the vein of Quicksand, Far and Shift, with a melancholy feel that reflects the life challenges Kinakin was facing over the past few years.
"The album was written at a very interesting part of my life. There were a lot of changes going on in my life and I was very reflective about relationships and where I was at in relationships, so that comes up as a common theme," he says. "And I was definitely seeing the end of my career as a graphic designer at a record company, so there was a lot of ending of relationships and a lot of change. I don't know if it's being 40 and having a midlife crisis or what, but all of a sudden there was a lot of reflection about who I am and where I was."
San Angelus, now in lineup phase two with Craig and Holcomb making way for bassist/vocalist Russell, have recorded three new songs for a 7-inch vinyl release due out in February via the Mylene Sheath and plan to continue the long-distance relationship with Kinakin now living in a small town in BC's Kootenay region, Russell in Vancouver and Herweg still in Los Angeles.
"It turns out Jahmeel was already friends with Larry because he had played in KEN Mode for awhile and done lots of shows with Pelican," says Kinakin, "so it sounds bizarre, but we have all of these contacts within this small boutique of music, and we can all share these connections and be excited about them."