Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Punky Meadows and Frank DiMino from the legendary ‘70s rock group Angel have reunited after 35 years and are hitting the stage to perform some of Angel’s classic songs as well as some of their own solo material. There are only a limited number of scheduled shows in North America for 2018 before they head over to Japan and the U.K this Fall.
I caught their show at the Debonair Music Hall in Teaneck, NJ on April 8th. Punky and Frank clearly have the same chemistry and appeal they did in the 70s. Punky is a huge inspiration to so many guitarists with his fluid-like playing. Frank is an outstanding frontman who is every bit as good as he was in the 70s. His voice was powerful, he sang with passion, and his range was phenomenal. The 90-minute time traveling set included some welcome rarities from Angel’s past like “On the Rock,” “Wild and Hot,” “The Fortune,” and then digging deep with songs like “Can You Feel It” and “Bad Times.” There was also a powerful version of “Feelin Right” that brought down the house and as expected the band closed the show with “The Tower.” By the end of the night, Punky and Frank were visible humbled by the crowd’s reaction. They were backed by Danny Farrow on guitar, Charlie Calv on keyboards, Steve Ojane on bass, and Billy Orrico on drums.
Prior to the show, I had the pleasure of interviewing Punky and Frank backstage for a fun and fast-paced interview that covered the possibility of collaborating on a full-length CD and the chemistry that still after 35 years.
Robert Cavuoto: How does it feel to perform together after so many years apart?
Punky Meadows: It feels great, it golden [laughing]. We played last night in Poughkeepsie, NY and you can see it in their faces of the fans that they loved us being back together. They went crazy, and Frank is doing an amazing job.
Frank DiMino: It feels if as no time has gone by from when we started playing together.
Robert Cavuoto: How long has it been since the last Angel show?
Frank DiMino: Our last show was in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin in either 1979 or 1980 for the Marathon Tour with Humble Pie, Mahogany Rush, and Mothers Finest.
Robert Cavuoto: This tour is such a great idea, why do you both think it has taken so long for it to happen?
Frank DiMino: Time has a way of working things out. Sometimes you get tired of doing the same old things. Both of us played in clubs for years before we did Angel, so there is a long history of performing. Sometimes you want to take a break. I still performed in Las Vegas and did some studio work in Los Angeles.
Punky Meadows: I actually retired from the music business for 17 years as I ran my own tanning salon business. I met Danny Farrow, and we got together to do my solo thing which turned out really well. From there Frank and I spoke about pulling this together. Plus all the fans were asking for it. When we first started talking about the idea of touring, we were kicking around the idea of each bringing our solo bands out to do a set and then get together to play some Angel songs, but at the end of the day, it really wasn’t feasible. We are now playing all Angel materials with some of Frank’s solo songs and some of my solo songs.
Frank DiMino: It would have been nice to each have our own set; we don’t have a lot of control to do things. We have to work with promoters. When someone says we want you to play at our venue, we can’t just go there and set up. A lot of planning goes into it. I really wish we could.
Punky Meadows: It’s also really complicated as we all live in different parts of the United States.
Robert Cavuoto: You appear on each other’s solo CDs, and this tour is a terrific reminder of the magic and chemistry that you possess together. Do you feel this tour can lead to a musical collaboration of a full CD?
Punky Meadows: You never know? We haven’t talked about.
Robert Cavuoto: Let’s talk about it now, it’s a great idea. [Laughing]
Punky Meadows: That’s probably the next step as you would think that is going to happen. It would be fun to do.
Robert Cavuoto: Have you made any strides towards an Angel reunion, and is this tour the first step of dipping a toe in the water to see the level of interest and excitement with fans and promoters?
Punky Meadows: No, I always said if we were going to do a reunion it would have to be the original band, and someone would have to bank roll it o make it a great show. I don’t foresee that happening.
Robert Cavuoto: Are you working on a follow-up CD to your 2015 release, Old Habits Die Hard?
Frank DiMino: I’m writing with Paul Crook from Meat Loaf who produced the first CD, and we have 3 of 4 songs together. I have written some song with Joey Sykes and have a few more with Oz Fox. Maybe I’ll do some with Punky too? You open your world to different things, and I never say no to anything. This has worked out really well between us so we should take it to the next level.
Punky Meadows: It’s in the stars! It’s a natural progression to happen.
Robert Cavuoto: Punky what is the status of your follow up to Fallen Angel?
Punky Meadows: Danny I have been writing like crazy as we always do. We are very prolific and will probably start working things out further in May. We have a lot of ideas maybe ten or so songs.
Robert Cavuoto: What is the vibe of those songs?
Punky Meadows: The first CD we put together very quickly, and I was really pleased. The last CD was very diverse, and the next one will be the same from that perspective. I don’t want to be one of those bands where once you hear the first song it sounds like every song on the CD. I want to be diverse like The Beatles and Queen.
Robert Cavuoto: Angel had so many diverse musical styles; looking back, which one was your favorite and would you have changed anything?
Punky Meadows: We had only been together for a month when we recorded our first album. We wrote those songs as a band really quickly. The second one was done just as quickly. We had started to come into our own as songwriters. As each album came out, we became better songwriters. We wrote progressive stuff because we dug bands like Queen. It was a natural progression for us. If we stayed together, our albums would have only gotten better. Everyone was talented and creative.
Frank DiMino: I don’t think I would change the way we did it. I think we had a nice progression as we started with progressive music on the first two albums, by the time we got to the third and fourth album it started to move to a heavy pop. Wherever you go, it takes you to a certain area, and I have no idea what the next album would have sounded like had we created it. I’m sure the sixth album would not have sounded like the fifth album just like the fourth album didn’t sound like the first album. We were never afraid to write stuff and put it out there. If we liked it, we did.
Punky Meadows: My favorite Angel albums are White Hot and Sinful as everyone knows that I love pop music with its big hooks and good melodies. For me, melody and rhythms will always live on. Songs like “The Tower” and “The Fortune” are great and I love them too. I’m the type of guy that loves David Cassidy as well as Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. The Beatles were the greatest pop band ever. I also like heavy blues, my favorite guitarist is Steve Ray Vaughan, and he is one of the best blues players. I cut my teeth on Eric Clapton. Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix so I’m a big fan of the British blues. I would be happy in a powerhouse blues trio! [Laughing]. I would love to that.
Robert Cavuoto: What is your fondest memory in Angel?
Frank DiMino: It would be working in the studio as we had so much fun. I enjoyed doing the third and forth albums the most. The third one because we recorded it in a castle. We were learning about using different rooms to get different sounds. When we got to the fourth album, we were working with Eddie Leonetti and Lee DeCarlo, and they were open to anything we suggested. We did a lot of crazy stuff like recording drums out of the PA system just to see what it would sound like.
Robert Cavuoto: Since Angel and Kiss were both on Casablanca Records, was Angel offered the same merchandising opportunities Kiss had with the toys and dolls?
Frank DiMino: We really had no plans for dolls, in Japan fans made dolls of us, but there were no plans to mass produce anything.
Punky Meadows: Danny Farrow is a sculptor and has done some of the new Kiss dolls. He works for a toy company so if he can convince them we would be willing to do it.
Robert Cavuoto: What is the status of the Angel documentary?
Danny Farrow: It’s just in talks with Curt Gooch as he has a ton of unseen Angel footage. He probably has the most out there. He worked on Kissology and a few other video projects. It really has to be done professionally and has to have full consent of each member of Angel, or it won’t get produced. There are some good ideas, and we hope it gets done. Curt is good at finding footage that is why Kiss hired him for Kissology. He was able to find people who filmed the shows in it 8mm. Punky and I watch it, and it was very good quality.
Punky Meadows: He has shows from each tour with the different costumes, so that is really cool.
Robert Cavuoto: My editor mentioned that you opened for The Yardbirds. What do you recall of that show?
Frank DiMino: Before Angel, I opened up for The Yardbirds with my high school band, Dry Ice or The Patriots. It was the same band we had just switched names around that time. It was pretty crazy as it was in a roller rink in Massachusetts. Nobody really knew them yet. Jimmy was a huge studio musician and known more for that. By the time he was in The Yardbirds, he had suggested Jeff Beck join and replace him because he had so much studio work.
Punky Meadows: My band at the time was the English Setters which became the Cherry People, and we were out of Washington DC. We also opened for The Yardbirds in a roller rink. We were the local The Beatle band and backed up Neil Diamond for a show. Jimmy Page was in The Yardbirds, and when they came out, Jimmy was really unhappy with his amp and kept smashing it with his guitar. I thought he was so cool. We went back to the dressing room, and he was snorting something. I was in high school and didn’t know what it was at the time. Then the music store guy who owned the equipment came in and started yelling and cursing at The Yardbirds because they were busting up his equipment.