Interview by Danny Coleman
“The Music,” says lead vocalist Chandler Mogel, “The Music is Great! It’s a very classic sound, it sounds like ’70’s classic rock and Angel meets Bad Co. It’s kind of eclectic but it ties together so well. Punky said to me once that he wanted a sound kind of like David Cassidy and I’m like, I don’t know who that is (laughs)!”
Despite the aforementioned generation gap, Punky Meadows is back after a more than 30 year hiatus with a revamped line up, new music, new outlook and a short tour which kicked off in Las Vegas on March 8.
Meadows, along with Mickie Jones founded the glam/hard rock band Angel in the ’70’s and although the band didn’t meet the expectations of their label (Casablanca), they amassed a cult like following; one which has aided Meadow’s return to music and the public eye. “After Angel, I left California and moved to the Washington, DC area; I had my fill of the music business. I never quit music but my next endeavor was in the stock market and I did well, so I basically retired. However, through today’s technology, I happened to see on Facebook that there was an Angel fan page and seeing all of the people who were on there; I never realized how we inspired people. I was doing a radio interview with Keith Roth and the station web site was taking so many hits that it crashed. Keith said that he’d never seen that happen before and this is a man who interviewed Robert Plant and Keith Richards.”
Buoyed by this renewed sense of musical purpose, Meadows and long time friend, confidant and rhythm guitarist Danny “The Farrow” Anniello began writing together once again and this collaboration eventually became Punky’s first solo release; 2016’s “Fallen Angel.” “I’ve always written songs with Danny. Once we got enough material together, we thought that we may just have something really special happening so we reached out to Felix Robinson because he plays such a melodic bass and then we found Bob Pantella of Monster Magnet to play drums. Later on we added Chandler and he recommended Charlie Calv for keyboards and we were set. These guys are great and super talented and are really good people. There are no fragile egos and they aren’t the type to get their feelings hurt and runaway; not these guys, it’s not in their make up.”
Nearly a year after its May release, Meadows is taking the band on the road due in part to a handful of well received gigs and the success of the album. According to Punky, he wanted to make an album that was as diverse as his tastes, yet stay true to his style. “We have an album that you’ll want to play air guitar to,” he said with a laugh. “We feel that every song on this disc is a potential single, it’s an album that I like to listen to and my solos are melodic, yet I rip it up where warranted; let’s just say it’s melodic yet kicks ass (laughs). It charted number four on Billboard and so far its gotten rave reviews, I feel very lucky. It was in the Top 10 for 2016, charted at number eight in Norway and was also in the Top 100 where we beat out Cheap Trick; that’s not easy to do. I’m not a heavy metal guy, I like Zeppelin and all my life I played in club bands. I played all varieties of music and I enjoyed listening to and performing songs from ABBA and even David Cassidy, yet I loved Hendrix and pop bands and the Beatles. I love music that creates a good vibe, people like to sing. I’ve discovered that the girls love this record and if they love it, ya’ know you’ve got a good record!”
There was a familiarity in place with the players in the unit which had already been established when Meadows put out the call for a lead vocalist; enter Mogel. “I responded to an ad,” chuckled Chandler. “A friend of mine told me about it so I hit them up with an e-mail and Danny called me and asked me to audition. I went in, auditioned the two tunes that I was asked to learn and they ended up on the record, it was a perfect fit.”
Looking for something or someone to round out the sound, the band’s thoughts turned to the possibility of adding a keyboard player. Mogel immediately thought of his good friend and Radio Exile band mate, Charlie Calv. “Yeah, it’s because of Chandler,” explained a laughing Calv. “He said that he wasn’t sure what direction they were going to go with the keys but he sent me the tunes to learn. I learned all of them and I am a huge Gregg Giuffria fan so I was already familiar with some of the other stuff. I auditioned and they offered me the job. Now I’m playing some of my childhood hero’s keyboard parts and I am really enjoying it and what makes it even more special is that I never expected this to happen.”
Both Calv and Mogel, along with Meadows and their band mates, have a mutual respect for the project and each other. “This is a great band with great players and Punky sounds great,” said Calv. “I never realized just how really good Punky is, especially with the finger picking. I was an Angel fan so for me to be part of this is iconic. The music is diverse, modern, ’70’s sounding, even kind of pop with a lot of hooks; they’re just great tunes!” Mogel is also thrilled to have been chosen to front the band and says he feels no pressure to fill anyone’s shoes or expectations. “Playing with Punky, he’s great and a genuine sweetheart. He is really just a nice guy with a very polite demeanor and such a great talent; to see him on top of his game after 30 some years off is just fun to watch. I feel no pressure from him to sound like anyone but myself. Being disconnected from Angel because the band was not around when I was getting into music, I was never a rabid fan like many others. So even if we do an Angel song, I sound like me and not them and so far it’s working out really well.”
Meadows says that after this quick run, he will continue to move forward and that there is another CD in the works. “I’m thinking another record by the beginning of next year,” he said enthusiastically. “Danny and I are pretty prolific when it comes to writing material. I play my guitar with a tape recorder next to me and we’re already writing songs for the next album. The guys in the band are so talented and they deliver this current one so well and once Chandler gets a hold of it, it just goes and really takes off.”
They just took off in Las Vegas and have west coast dates in San Diego on March 9 at Brick By Brick and then again on March 10 in Los Angeles at the legendary Whisky followed by some time off and then two shows on the east coast. The first of these dates is April 21 in Poughkeepsie, NY at The Chance and then a return to the scene of their CD release party at BB Kings Blues Club in Manhattan on April 29.
To discover more about Punky Meadows, please visit www.punkymeadowsofficial.com.
Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)