Books & Literature

Interview: The Angels’ John Brewster Still The One!

No matter where you live in Australia, you would’ve heard a song from The Angels some time in your life.

No matter where you live in Australia, you would’ve heard a song from The Angels some time in your life. Most likely the track ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ complete with the fan friendly “No way get f*cked, f*ck off!” reply. They are a band that started on the Albert label, famous of course for AC/DC. They had many hits albums and singles mainly in the late 70s to the early 90s and have been classic rock FM stations fodder ever since. Unfortunately original singer Doc Neeson passed away in 2014 and now the band continues on with Dave Gleeson from the Screaming Jets. The band is back with a new compilation called ‘Brothers, Angels & Demons’ which is a double album of the many incarnations of the band including where it all started with the Moonshine Jug and String Band in 1973, to songs recorded with John Brewster’s sons, to The Angels with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. You need to hear the versions with the ASO!

The Angels debut self-titled album was released back in 1978 and by 1984 they had their seventh album in the shops. The classic writing combination of Brewster-Neeson-Brewster were prolific back then writing such classics as “No Secrets”, “Marseilles” and “Take A Long Line”. Glam Adelaide’s Darren Leach spoke with guitarist John Brewster and first asked about their prolific output in those early days.

“We worked really hard I must say. It’s kind of what you did back then. You could gig every night of the week back then. Rick and I are used to go in the studio at 2 o’clock in the morning and stay all night and come out with things like ‘Take A Long Line’ guitar solo and various other bits and pieces. Those were very productive times but I don’t know how we did it back then. We went home at nine in the morning and then will do a gig that night which involved a lot of driving. I look back on that and think how we did it”, reminisces Brewster.

John temporarily left the band just before the Howling album, which was released in 1986. During those years so classic albums were released such as Face To Face (1978), No Exit (1979) and The Dark Room (1980). I asked him to look back and pick his favourite album.
“That’s a hard one to answer because Face To Face was such a major album for us but so was No Exit. I prefer No Exit, but that just depends on what day of the week it is. I really like The Dark Room album as well. I think The Dark Room we musically pushed some of the boundaries and it’s pretty interesting. It’s a beautifully played album. But I also like the Talk That Talk album with Dave Gleeson we did in 2013. I have to mention the Skin and Bone album because Rick and I couldn’t listen to that for like 10 to 15 years. The reason we couldn’t was because it was such a hard album to make. It was a hard time for the band and Doc wasn’t well. And it took years to get that album recorded and by the time it was released we were kind of sick of it. We discovered years down the track that it was a great album so it’s a bit of a favourite of mine at the moment.”

John, along with his brother Rick, have written a biography of the bands history. This is an eye witness account of the rise of the band and is an exciting read for any music lover. With help from author Bob Yates, John explains why they decided to release a book.

“The band has been around for 43 years but if you add in the Moonshine Jug and String Band and then we’re getting close to 50 years of history. A lot has happened over that time. I reckon my memory is pretty good so Bob Yates did a great job tracking down people to verify our stories. But to Bob’s credit he’s been able to piece it together and it’s a pretty damn accurate count of the history. And I think it’s really balanced.”
As mentioned there is new double album compilation out called ‘Brothers, Angels & Demons’. John takes us through the album’s title.

“Some of the tracks on the first part of the album feature my three sons so they’re the brothers in the album title. Of course Rick and I are brothers. There is kind of an audio history so to speak. There’s a couple of Jug and String songs sung by Doc and I really love them. There’s also some songs sung by Dave Gleeson. And there’s also some songs have written in the last six years. On the second CD we basically got down to Rick and myself to choose the tracks; none of these were singles and we chose them because they’re songs that we particularly like. The second CD is really special to me because there’s six tracks where we performed with the ASO. So we had the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra backing us. We grew up in a classical music family so to combine classical musicians with The Angels repertoire was special.”

Its strange to think the band were once a jug and string band. Musically they are poles apart but within 3 years they moved from folky music to a rock sound with their self-titled album in 1977, which featured the song ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’. I asked how they transitioned from the Moonshine Jug and String Band to the The Angels.
“Jimmy Barnes said to us recently, ‘You and Rick are like sponges you soak everything up and you came up with your own thing’. When you’re young you just really tune into everything that’s going on and we started writing songs and I wrote one called ‘Keep You On The Move’. Which we recorded with the jug and string band and we put it out as a single and became hit single in Adelaide. It was sort of my idea to start with The Angels, because I just figured if we were going to start writing songs the jug band wasn’t the right band. We were writing rock songs and the jug band was about 1920s songs. Rick had only just got his degree as an agricultural scientist believe it or not, John laughs. We had a conversation in the car and he basically ripped up his degree there and then we decided to become The Angels.”

‘The Angels’ book by Bob Yates with Rick and John Brewster released August 1.

‘Brothers, Angels and Demons’ double album compilation is out August 4.

With special guests Diesel, Rose Tattoo, MI-SEX, Hitmen DTK & Dave Wilson Band.

Tickets on sale now 
For full tour info,
 click here

Fri 13 Oct | Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Special guest: MI-SEX | Ph: 136 100

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