Duff McKagan says he's been wanting to work with former Post Stardom Depression frontman Jeff Angell ever since the Guns N' Roses co-founder first saw the ill-fated rock band perform back in the early '90s.
"They were the coolest rock band on the planet at that moment," enthuses the former GNR bassist. "They got a big [Interscope] record deal, and they went out on tour with Queens of the Stone Age. But things just didn't pan out and they never got to make the record, which was a huge loss. The band kind of fell apart, and a couple of people went on self-destructive paths after that."
Angell went on to release three indie albums with Post Stardom Depression before forming a new band called Missionary Position, which released two albums of its own.
McKagan, meanwhile, left GNR and formed Loaded, which is an ongoing project, as well as the punk band 10 Minute Warning. He also reunited with bandmate Slash in Velvet Revolver, for which Angell auditioned before Scott Weiland got the gig
Last year, the two musicians finally got the chance to join forces. Angell had resurfaced in Walking Papers, a new project that included former Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin, and McKagan came onboard.
"I've just known him and believed in him for so long," McKagan enthuses. "You see this guy you love as a musician and a songwriter, and now we're working together."
Walking Papers' self-titled debut album has just gotten a national release through the Sony-distributed Loud & Proud Records. Although the album had previously been available through Martin's independent label, Walking Papers has remained under the radar until now.
"The independent release of the record was really just that," McKagan admits. "I don't think anybody in America really knew the record was out at all. You're not going to sell any records or get yourself on the radio that way. So we met with [Loud & Proud label head] Tom Lipsky, a guy who has done it forever and loves this record and wants to push it. He was saying 'You guys need to be on every radio station in America.'"
That hasn't happened yet, but the album definitely deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Rock tracks like "The Whole World's Watching," "Your Secret's Safe With Me" and "Red Envelopes" may not be all that unconventional, but quieter, more moody songs like "Already Dead" and "Leave Me in the Dark" are definitely striking. There's even a piano ballad called "The Butcher," with a haunting quality that comes from its austere instrumentation and unsettling lyrics.
With the new label's promotional push, Walking Papers is headlining the current Uproar Festival's second stage, with Alice in Chains and Jane's Addiction handling main-stage duties. The band has also been playing about a half dozen new songs during recent shows in Europe, and McKagan hopes they'll be getting more songs written during sound checks on the Uproar tour.
"You never say the songs are better than the last batch, but the chemistry's starting to come together. It just happens when you go out on the road," says McKagan of past experiences. "Or hopefully it happens."