Johnny Angel Exclusive Interview
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Johnny Angel and get a glimpse into the man himself. Johnny invited me into his inner sanctum..... when you walk into this beautiful olde New Orleans address.....you are instantly transported back in time to an age when men wore smoking jackets and leather slippers and hospitality to your guests was the rule rather than the exception. Johnny embodies the essence of an olde tyme gent. After offering me a healthy dose of Gentleman Jack on the rocks, we sat down to conduct this interview. I admired the way Johnny lounged in his sumptuous burgundy silk smoking jacket (complete with ascot), cigarillo clenched in his lips.....as he crossed his legs he unconsciously ran smoothing fingers down the knife pleat crease in his slacks.....all in order he looked at me expectantly poised pen in hand and gave the slightest nod.....the King of Swing was ready to speak.
1. How did you first become interested in music? Your first influences?
I was always interested in music...since I can remember. I used to watch the neighborhood garage bands at home in Staten Island. The older cats had bands and I was fascinated....I wanted to be a bass player because all the cool cats were bass players. As far as influences...I guess it was the same for all of us back then...we dug cats like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and the New York Dolls...rock n roll you know, what else.
~But why the bass? Dont the chicks usually go for guitar players?
(laughs and punctuates with the cigarillo) Yeah, and you see me playing bass NOW, huh? (He winks and chuckles before swishing a bit of Gent Jack around in his mouth and replacing the cigarillo.)
2. Are you classically trained?
Yeah, in classical guitar as a kid......I was really fluent. I could whiz thru those pieces. (looks a little sad) You lose it if you dont use it tho. I used to really dig Villa Lobos.
3. When and where did you first meet Julia?
In NYC in 1996, I was doing a guest appearance at this Rockabilly bar and she was in the crowd. I didnt know then she was an actress and singer....that came later. That night she was just a chick at the bar.
4. What made you decide to move to New Orleans?
Well they started playing my music on the radio here, I thought itd be a better opportunity to do what I love and get paid for it. The scene was just happening for me here, so I packed my gear and drove down in my 68 Caddy.
5. What are your future goals? How do they differ from your first goals?
My goals havent changed...I have ALWAYS wanted to be and have been a musician. As far as specific goals right now Im looking at getting management, putting out another Big Band CD as well as my limited edition rockabilly one. Id also like to explore more into television and revive the old variety show ala Dean Martin.
6. What was your first impression of new orleans?
(laughs and shakes his head) It was HOT AS HELL! (punctuates again with the cigarillo) I came here in August with my very pregnant girlfriend. But I also found it very quaint, and beautifully kept...I loved that the history seemed to be intact here. Loved the people first off, I dug how friendly they were and generous. Very helpful and encouraging, it was refreshing from NY.
7. can you tell us a little about your new sound and CD project?
Well Im presently putting together a Rockabilly CD as a sort of intermezzo between albums...this is similar to the music I was recording back in NYC years ago. (Laughs) Man, they had never seen a cat like me...still havent. Back then I still had this whole King Pomp thing going but I was doing what I do set to dance music. As far as later projects, Im still putting together my next Big Band/ Swing CD and thatll involve ALOT more original work.
8. What other projects do you have coming up? Professional or otherwise?
Well as I mentioned about the two CDs... I always got a million things in the fire. My next Big Band release isnt going to be a play like Deuce was...its a bit different. I wont say too much as its a suprise (winks) but youll see alot more of my influences and certainly more original material.
9. where do you see yourself in 10 years?
(laughs and looks at me like Im crazy) What are you talkin about, Doll? Im right exactly where and what Ive always been.....an original. That dont change.... but yeah, I am looking at doing a Johnny Angel Christmas special, possibly doing a radio show soon, theres always more television appearances to do, and soon Ill be hosting the first ever Swing Fest here in New Orleans for Summer 2003. Oh yeah and then theres always wine, women, and song......(he grins at me and takes a slug of his drink and rises. This is my cue that the interview is over. ) ******
After this gracious and entertaining interview, I was schooled in the art of a good red gravy with roasted garlic over spaghettini. MMMMM, charm, looks, dreamy voice AND he cooks!!!