Interview and Live Photos by Robert Cavuoto
Punky Meadows and Frank DiMino from the legendary 70s rock group Angel have reunited after 35+ years for their first full-length CD, Risen, which was released on October 4th via Cleopatra Records. The new CD proves the duo hasn’t lost a step and still share that magically chemistry of writing hard-edged songs with tremendous hooks, dynamic melodies, and powerful guitar riffs. The newly reunited Angel consists of original band members, Punky Meadows [lead guitar] and Frank Dimino [lead vocals] along with Danny Farrow [rhythm guitar], Charlie Calv [keyboards], Billy Orrico [bass guitar] and Steve Ojane [drums].
The band will head to Japan in April of 2020 for a series of shows then back to the US for some East and West Coast dates.
I caught up with Frank DiMino to talk about the band’s new CD, what it’s like to collaborate with Punky again, and to discuss Angel’s illustrious legacy.
Robert Cavuoto: I’m really enjoying Risen as it kept true to Angel’s legacy; I have to wonder why you and Punky haven’t collaborated sooner on a full lengthen CD?
Frank DiMino: I’m not really sure. We have done a few things here and there. It’s always hard to get things back together once they have been fractured. All of us have stayed in touch, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to come back and play with each other again. As with any project, I’ve always tried to include the other members. In the Beginning was Barry and me, but we involved Felix Robinson and Punky. We tried to get Gregg Giuffria. When I did my solo album Old Habits Die Hard, I did the same thing. Once things splinter, it’s hard to get them back together. With this CD, Punky and I were touring together, so it made it easier to collaborate and do an album.
Robert Cavuoto: Did you put any pressure on yourself that this CD would have to be equal or better than what Angel ever did?
Frank DiMino: No, I don’t think so, at least not at this stage. It was really just a matter of us sitting down and writing together. I went through that with my solo CD. When I approached writing it, I thought I don’t want to do anything that resembles Angel, but its part of who and what I am. I felt it best to write and whatever comes out comes out. I think that is the same approach we took on Risen.
Robert Cavuoto: What was the writing process like between you and Punky for Risen, and how did it compare to how you wrote in the past?
Frank DiMino: It was different this time around because we weren’t face-to-face [laughing]. Back in the day, we rehearsed every day; Punky would pick me up and drive to rehearsal together. We played every single day together. After rehearsal, Punky, Gregg, and I would stay and work on ideas. I would take it home, work on some lyrics then bring it down the next day. This time we didn’t do that. This time we only rehearsed a few songs with the band to get some ideas and layout the tracks.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you have a preference on how you like to write?
Frank DiMino: I don’t have a preference. I want to do it the way it works best for the situation. If it didn’t work this way, we would have found a different way for it to work. Sometimes what works between two people doesn’t work between two other people. The same thought applies; what worked in the past doesn’t work now. You can’t repeat what you did in the past, so you just go with the flow. You just let the writing take over and see where it takes you.
Robert Cavuoto: Which song would you say had your biggest imprint on it?
Frank DiMino: If I had to pick one; maybe “My Sanctuary.” I think all of them were different, and I tried to approach each song differently. I don’t think there is one song over the other that has a bigger imprint on it. I put as much into every song as I could on this album.
Robert Cavuoto: My favorite song is “Desire,” as I particularly like that 70s style clapping break towards the end of the song. What can you tell me about its creation?
Frank DiMino: That was one of the first tracks we worked on together and worked it out a little with the band. Sometimes it’s easier for me to find melodies when I have the band playing.
Robert Cavuoto: Angel was a theatrical band so when writing songs for Risen or past albums, did you write for the stage performance?
Frank DiMino: Back in the day, there were a couple that were written for the performance like “Rock and Rollers” and “Anyway You Want It.” “Rock and Rollers” was written when we were playing clubs and wanted to get the crowd going. ” Anyway You Want It,” from the second album came about from being on the road. For Risen, maybe “Locked, Cocked and Ready to Rock” is a live band tune where you can just bang it out.
Robert Cavuoto: I often thought “The Tower” was written specifically for a visual aspect of Angel’s show?
Frank DiMino: That was the first song the three of us wrote together. “The Tower” was written for a visual experience with its medieval vibe but not really for the visual aspect of the live show. It was more of an aura that we were trying to create.
Robert Cavuoto: You spoke about asking previous members of Angel to work with you in the past, were any members asked to guest on Risen?
Frank DiMino: We asked Gregg if he wanted to play. Barry would have done it, but he was battling some health issues at the time. People always try to figure out why the whole band is not together, but the reality is that people are settled in with their lives. It’s hard to get back into the groove and put the band back together. You don’t get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to play on one of those tracks.” There is pride and vanity involved in the process. When you look at that whole thing, you try to figure what is the best move and sometimes you are just too busy with what is going in life. They want to do it but just can’t get to it. Some things have to be done quickly as people want it yesterday, so you have to get it done within a time frame.
Robert Cavuoto: Songs are written in different ways and for different purposes. Do you do find yourself writing something adequate one day, and suddenly find yourself creating something very special the next?
Frank DiMino: [Laughing] Oh yeah! Everything you write you want to be great! You go through the writing process and after a few days go, “I don’t know?” There are times where you can take parts from a song and use it in another. It’s an ongoing and never-ending process.
Robert Cavuoto: Are you able to close the door on feeling the need to make adjustments after an album is completed?
Frank DiMino: It took a while to get to that point as I was always want to redo something [laughing]. At this point in my career, I can look at it and feel it’s done. It is what it is! I tell myself we have come to the conclusion, let’s move on to the next thing.
Robert Cavuoto: What do you think the follow-up album to Sinful would have sounded like?
Frank DiMino: It would probably have been in the same vein as Sinful as we had six or seven songs that we were working on. The follow-up to the Sinful follow-up would have been different. We never stayed in one musical spot for too long. The first and second were aligned; the third was different. Then from the third to the fourth, we changed it. I think we would have stayed in that Sinful vein for one more album. You never want to pigeon hole yourself in one particular area. That was the one thing about Angel that we were changing all the time.
Robert Cavuoto: You have some headlining show overseas; can you share what’s in store for touring the US in 2020?
Frank DiMino: We have the Legends Rock Cruise in February, then we head to Japan in April. After that, we are lining up some East and West Coast shows. I would love to do more shows in the lower part of the East Coast. I would like to also get to Texas; it will come, as that is what we are moving towards. We did a few shows in the US before the end of the year to work out some of the new songs and get our feet wet. Next year is going to be a busy year for Angel, so we wanted to try them out in front of a live audience.
Robert Cavuoto: Has there ever been any consideration to playing large venues as a support act or with a few other bands?
Frank DiMino: The benefit of headlining clubs is to see the audience’s reaction and your reaction to them. When we went to London and Nottingham, the places were packed. They were great shows. It’s a nice close feeling to get the people rocking and the place was pulsating with our fans. The people who come to the smaller venues know every word to every song and are singing along. A better place to get exposure is festivals; there are people who heard of Angel but never saw us, so you want to show them what the band is all about. I love doing festivals as people are in a good mood and ready to go, and they are willing to react, rock out, and sing with you. It’s a nice atmosphere. There are good and bad in every situation, and both are great.