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The Angels on their 40th Anniversary of “No Exit” : Rick Brewster Talks

Symphony Of Angels - Hamer Hall, Melbourne 2019
(C) Kylie Carns Photography- Symphony of Angels – April 2019

The Angels are one of the most iconic Australian bands that have ever recorded. Forming in Adelaide, South Australia in 1974, they were noted for redefining the Australian pub scene and changing punter’s expectations on what live music was supposed to be like. Over the years, Aussie anthems such as “Take A Long Line”, “No Secrets” and the quintessential “Am I Ever Gonna to See Your Face Again?” blasted out of stereos across the country, gaining more followers with every album released. Having an impressive 13 albums under their belt, The Angels still show no sign of slowing down. Touring recently with their “Symphony of Angels” tour to rave reviews, this band is like an energiser bunny; they just keep going. Looking back though on the eve of their 40th anniversary of one of their greatest albums “No Exit”, did they ever think that they would still be going 40 years later? Rick Brewster explains;

“It was one of those things that we talked about and we thought we would be relevant but we probably thought five or ten years time, not 40”

But would they make any changes to the “No Exit “ album in retrospect?

“No. The original album stands on its own. It is a statement of time, as is ‘Face to Face’ (their second studio album), but when it came to re-recording the album with the band that we have now and have had for the last 8 years, you realise certain things evolved over those 40 years. Just playing the songs live and recently playing a lot of them with an orchestra, it makes you look at some of them a little bit differently, and that’s reflected on the re-recording. The two that really come to mind are in one of the songs we actually added some orchestral stuff, cause it really adds something to the song and the other one is “Dawn is Breaking’. I remember when we recorded that song in 1979.  It was the first song that we decided to use an organ on and that was great fun, but I always wondered back then,  if we should have put a guitar solo on it and this time I did. I wrote a solo for it and it has become one of my favourites. That’s pretty special to me”

 Looking back at recording in those early days, The Angels released their first five albums within five years. This is just unheard of these days and a huge achievement. Surprisingly, Rick believes that the most challenging part about recording back then, were the disagreements with his brother.

“The hardest thing was fighting with my brother (John Brewster). We have mellowed with age now, but it was all for a good cause, but you know brothers. Siblings fight in a different way to people who are not related. They get personal. Which we did. It was never physical, but it was enough to drive people out of the room in the belief that the band was going to break up.”

(C) Kylie Carns Photography- Rick and John Brewster playing One Electric Day – November 2018

But thankfully they are still rocking and just about to embark on their 40th Anniversary tour of “No Exit”. The Angels have that something. They still can draw in a crowd after all these years but how do they do it?

“It’s the songs. That’s number one. The songs are definitely bigger than the band. It’s real music. Its real musicians, playing real instruments, in front of real crowds. I am not saying that it’s rare, but these days there is so much digital techno music, and I’m sure its got its place and I’m all for keeping up with the latest and greatest, but to me,  there is something missing in that style of music and it’s the real human element of actually picking up an instrument and playing it.” Rick explains.

The band has seen its fair share of changes throughout the years, as any band holding fort for this long in the industry would. The biggest change came in 2010 when some thought it would spell the end of The Angels with Doc Neeson leaving the band for good. Their notorious front man and founding singer (and founding bass player) had enough. Many thought that The Angels were done. Still to this day, there are some diehard Neeson fans that refuse to see The Angels without their beloved Neeson at the helm. Neeson unfortunately lost his battle with a brain tumour in 2014. Chris Bailey who had played bass with the band since 1977, also lost his fight to throat cancer and passed in 2013. Two major upsets for the band within a matter of years. Recruiting Screaming Jets front man Dave Gleeson in 2010, has energised the band and they haven’t looked back. Rick explains how they got Gleeson involved:

“Well, it was nothing to do with Doc passing away as he left the band two years before he died. He left the band for good in 2010, and that’s when we went looking for a singer and decided to ask Dave Gleeson and it was around the same time that Chris Bailey was getting sick and he played with us right up until the end; till he couldn’t play anymore. Sam Brewster took over from him, which was a wonderful thing. It was like he handed the baton over, but Dave Gleeson has been with us for eight years now and he is a monster and we haven’t looked at anyone else. He fit right in from the word go.”

 Gleeson has definitely brought a different aspect to The Angels. Like a fresh coat of paint. No one can deny that Gleeson is not only one of the hardest working musician’s around, he is up there with one of the greatest front man Australia has seen . It is certainly an asset to one of the hardest working bands. The Angels are still touring with events such as “The Red Hot Summer” and “One Electric Day” summer tours and their “Symphony of Angels” tour, but is there room for more gigs like the early days?

“No. If anything we were forced to slow down because of the gradual decline in venues that are available. It’s pretty much Friday and Saturday nights these days, whereas in the early days it was seven nights a week and virtually everyday of the year we were having gigs; sometimes two gigs, or even three on a day. That just doesn’t happen anymore. It can’t happen for any band and so touring has become, you leave home on a Friday, you fly to Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane or Perth or whatever it is, you do Friday and Saturday night and come home on Sunday and spend the rest of the week at home. That’s modern touring. It’s a much more balanced lifestyle, being able to spend that amount of time at home.” Rick says

The Angels certainly have left their mark on the Australian music industry and were rightly inducted into the ARIA Hall of fame way back in 1998. It has been noted that bands such as Guns and Roses, Pearl Jam and Nirvana were influenced by The Angels but more importantly they have appeared in many of their fan’s life soundtracks. Older generations are educating their offspring of the great music that is The Angels and its humbling.

“Its a funny thing, cause you just keep doing it without really thinking much about it. It’s just what we have always done. It’s enjoyable, puts food on the table and we have always been driven by the music, by the creativity. Writing songs is a joy when you get one finished and It’s ok. It’s a great feeling. When you get up in front of a crowd and see these young kids that obviously know every lyric of every song that are probably 18 or 20 and you know they weren’t around, not even born back then, 40 years ago, but obviously have grown up with it. It appeals to them, which is exactly what we always hoped for. “

(C) Kylie Carns Photography- Rick Brewster



The Angels embark on the 40th Anniversary tour around Australia in June.


Please see below for dates and ticket information

Friday 28th June 2019 The Gov, ADELAIDE SA www.thegov.com.au | www.oztix.com.au

Saturday 29th June 2019 The Gov, ADELAIDE SA www.thegov.com.au | www.oztix.com.au

Friday 5th July 2019 Highfield Caringbah, CARINGBAH NSW www.highfieldcaringbah.com.au

Saturday 6th July 2019 Pittwater RSL, PITTWATER NSW www.pittwaterrsl.com.au

Friday 12th July 2019 Gateway Hotel, GEELONG VIC www.thegatewayhotel.com.au

Saturday 13th July 2019 Village Green Hotel, MULGRAVE VIC www.thevillagegreen.com.au

Friday 19th July 2019 The Triffid, BRISBANE QLD www.thetriffid.com.au

Saturday 20th July 2019 Kingscliff Beach Hotel, KINGSCLIFF NSW www.kingscliffbeachhotel.com.au

Friday 26th July 2019 Belmont 16ft, BELMONT NSW www.16s.com.au

Saturday 27th July 2019 Hornsby RSL, HORNSBY NSW www.hornsbyrsl.com.au


For more information, please visit www.theangels.com.au

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