Christian Bland of The Black Angels & Christian Bland & The Revelators Keeps It Heavy & Trippy (INTERVIEW)

East Austin rocker Christian Bland is a lean, mean streetwalking psychedelic machine. With an infectious smile and an electric personality, Bland has played a vital role in why the Austin psych-rock scene is one of the richest in the country. A founding member of psych pioneers The Black Angels, known for their darkly sexy and seductive melodies and also known for his reverb-soaked project Christian Bland & The Revelators, and a heavy hitter in the formation of Levitation, one of the premier psychedelic rock festivals in the world, Bland lives for the sanctity of psychedelia and is living, breathing proof that rock n’ roll is still very much alive.

In the midst of recording a new record with The Black Angels and The Revelators, Bland spoke with Glide and talked about everything under the hot Texas sun from favorite bands that shaped his musical education to life in Austin. A true mover and a shaker, it is evident that the man can’t keep still with the many things he keeps busy with. A force to be reckoned with, Bland is like hanging out with trippy interpretation of Buddy Holly; a lover of the old world with a young spirit, he’s definitely one of a kind.

What have you been up to these days?

Been working on a new Black Angels record and pretty much been doing that all summer. We get together everyday except for the weekends. We played Psycho Las Vegas not too long ago. I’ve also been doing Revelators stuff just around town. The Vegas show was the first one The Black Angels had done in a while. That’s pretty much been my summer.

How is the new Black Angels album coming along?

The new Black Angels album will probably be released in the middle of next year. The last release, Death Song, came out over two years ago in April of 2017. We are in the writing process right now and will be entering the studio after that. Some of the material is actually stuff we’ve had since the last record. We’re also working on a lot of new material.

Is there a theme or a central message with the upcoming Black Angels release?

Yeah, for sure. Our records are observations of what we see everyday. Each record is a time capsule of what was happening in our lives. The newest record will be from January 2017 to the point that it is recorded. The themes naturally develop of what we are experiencing between those time periods. We don’t force anything. It’s not like we sit down and say we’re going to write an anti-war record. Things happen organically and they always have. I can’t force creativity. I can’t just sit down and say I’m going to write a song about this thing in particular. I have to be inspired. If something inspires me throughout the day, I want to go pick up my guitar. Not really the other way around. Creativity is a magical thing you channel. Whatever comes from it, that’s when things really happen.

Are you enjoying the songwriting process?

I’m enjoying it so far–sometimes it can be stressful but it’s been really great with this upcoming record. It’s been the least stressful of all in my recent memory. The writing process can be both singular and collaborative- sometimes somebody will just bring in a whole song and then we will try to figure it out. Usually, we will just start jamming something. For example, I’ll come in with a riff and then we’ll start playing stuff around it. If Stephanie brings a song, it will be a complete song and then the process will take form from there. It just really depends.

How is the process different with Christian Bland & The Revelators?

With The Revelators I just usually write the songs. It’s my outlet– fortunately, I am able to bring songs I’ve been working on to life and have them see the light of day. This will be the fourth album that’s coming out with The Revelators. We’re recording everything in Austin. We have a new lineup since the last one. It’s just three Black Angels and Bob Mustachio. Two of the previous members moved to California.

What are some of your major musical influences?

I mean the reason I probably play is because of The Beatles. They’re what made me want to pick up the guitar. Also The Velvet Underground and Syd Barrett. Put all those influences together and you get me. No one in my family knew how to play anything. Nobody that I know of, like all the way down to my family tree ever played anything. I’m the first. Little did my dad know that when he bought the Sgt. Pepper album in 1967 that I would find it and then it would change the trajectory of my life. I grew up in a religious household singing hymns each week which had an influence on the creation of The Black Angels.

Can you talk a little bit about Levitation and how it got started and your involvement in it?

It started in 2008 and that would have been two or three years after The Black Angels started touring. So having toured for several years at that point, we had met a bunch of bands and got to be friends with them. We decided that we wanted to throw a psychedelic party during SXSW and invite all the people we had met along the way. The first one was March 8th of 2008 and I think there were twelve or thirteen bands. It was one day, just a Saturday. That was the first year. It seemed like there was probably 600 people there. Every year afterwards it seemed like it doubled in size. The next year in 2009 we did it for two days, it just kept going. For the first three years, I made the art and booked the bands. Alex Maas, Rob Fitzpatrick and James Oswald, all four of us were working on it. That is still the core of it, but now I don’t book it anymore. I have input on who we want to play, but I’m not as hands-on as I was the first two years. Rob Fitzpatrick has taken over that lead. That’s kind of the history of it. It was at Carson Creek Ranch but is now in venues around downtown Austin. Eventually, we would like to have it out in a field again where there is camping.

Are you still doing your label The Reverberation Appreciation Society?

The label still exists and we are revamping it now. There are going to be several releases next year. So it should be a really good year for the label and everything for the festival too. Things are looking up.

Austin has been your home for many years– what drew you to it and what do you love most about living there?

I’ve been in Austin since 2002 so it has been 17 years now. It is the longest I have lived anywhere in my life. I love Southern California too though, and if I went anywhere else I would probably go there. I would love to have two places– I would always keep one in Austin and have one out there. There’s a creative spirit in this city that drew me to want to be here.

Are you still doing design and other artistic endeavors?

I am still doing some design work, but mostly for my own projects. Sometimes I’ll do it for other people. If I like the music and if I can listen to it and get inspired, I will do it. Time and inspiration equals a design from Christian Bland. I mean I still do all The Black Angels stuff. I do every Revelators cover and every Black Angels cover. It’s fun and I find it to be a different form of creativity. It is a slower process of creativity than guitar. With guitar, it can be instant creativity. It is fun to have both things going.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

Well, I used to high jump in college. I’m tied for the ninth-highest jumper for Florida State University actually.

What are you spinning on your record player these days?

I really like that new Clinic album, been playing their record a lot. It’s probably one of my favorites of the year. I’m constantly listening to old stuff. I just watched that movie Rockers and have been listening to that soundtrack. I’m actually really into Roots reggae. Anything Lee Scratch Perry is great.

Make sure to catch The Black Angels at Desert Daze in Lake Perris, CA Sunday, October 13th.

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