Doyle’s Arc Angels
Following the death of Stevie Ray Vaughn in 1990, his rhythm section consisting of Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton teamed with a pair of Austin songwriters by the name of Charlie Sexton and Doyle Bramhall II. Not only were these two gentlemen established songwriters, each were extraordinairy guitarists. Charlie Sexton had opened for the Clash by age 15, and released a major-label solo album by age 17. Doyle is the son of blues drummer/singer Doyle Bramhall. The combined forces named themselves the Arc Angels, after the rehearsal space that put them together: the Austin Rehearsal Center. A self-titled album was released in 1992 to great reviews and nationwide radio play. Songs such as “Sent By Angels,” “Living in a Dream” and “Too Many Ways to Fall” became staples on rock stations across the country, with their unique blend of Texas blues and rock. After a couple years of touring, the band imploded without following up on the promise of the debut album. Fast forward 15 years to the present and the Arc Angels are back. On Sunday, after a tour of the UK in May, including an 11-night stand at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the band, now consisting of Charlie Sexton, Doyle Bramhall II and Chris Layton, will bring this widely appealing brand of rock to Charlotte’s Neighborhood Theatre. I spoke with Doyle Bramhall about the decision to re-form the Arc Angels recently. CH: You and the band have been in the studio recording recently, is that right?
DB: Yeah, we have been in the studio quite a bit, trying to mix songs on the live DVD that we are putting out as well as three new studio tracks. Two of those songs are originals, one is a cover.
CH: Are these newly written songs, or songs that remain from the original incarnation of the Arc Angels?
DB: These are newly written. The one that Charlie sings is one that he has had around for about three years and is performed live on the DVD. The song that I sing is one that I had and took to Charlie. We then worked on it and have done some different things with it. The cover song is “Too Many People,” the Paul McCartney song from RAM.
CH: So, you have an 11-night stand coming up at the Royal Albert Hall? Opening for Eric Clapton… you have worked with him for quite a while. DB: I have worked with him on record since 2001. And I opened a tour for him that year. In 2004, after making two or three albums with him, he wanted me to come join him in his band. So I started in his band in 2004.
CH: Well that must be like the dream phone call.
DB: Yeah. The first call I got from him was that he wanted to cover a couple of my songs for the album he made with BB King called Riding with the King. So, Eric Clapton and BB King did a duet on two songs that I wrote… haha… pretty crazy. Everything progressed pretty naturally from there to playing in his band. But yeah, that first call was definitely a dream call.
CH: The Arc Angels are playing at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte on June 7.
DB: Yeah, we are doing three shows in the US after the UK trek. Then we are taking a month to record. Hopefully we will have written enough songs while in the UK, because our proximity to each other on tour makes it easier to collaborate, because we all live in different places… or at least I do. Band is based out of Austin, but I live in LA.
CH: What was the deciding factor to officially reform the Arc Angels now? You have been playing shows for the last several years. Was there one event that precipitated the reunion?
DB: We were playing a lot of shows, and it seemed that in Texas, where we were doing a lot of regional touring, that our fan base just kept growing. We would play Dallas or Houston or wherever, and we would be playing bigger places with more people, and selling out, and we were not doing anything. No kind of promotions, no new songs, nothing on the radio. So it seemed like something that needed to be followed up. When we played we would come up with interesting things during soundchecks, and think, “Wow, this is a really cool rock band….” And maybe we should consider doing this, especially in these days when there is strength in numbers. CH: As far as your live show goes, can we expect to hear the new songs that you have recorded for the DVD release?
DB: Yeah, those three songs are the first three tracks towards a new album as well. Hopefully we will have that recorded this year. We are playing a lot of stuff that we have not brought out before. CH: I look forward to hearing the new stuff, as well as the music from the Arc Angels release on the seventh in Charlotte.
DB: Yeah, we look forward to going out and playing, ’cause like I said we just have that chemistry that makes the ARC Angels such a cool Texas Rock band.