Revolver teamed with Angel Du$t for an exclusive vinyl variant of their new album, YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs, which sold out immediately. Head over to Revolver's store to see our other Angel Du$t offerings and browse the full selection of our limited-edition vinyl.
"I mean look at D. Fang, dude. Where are you gonna put D. Fang? Nowhere makes sense!"
Angel Du$t vocalist Justice Tripp is using his band's pink-haired drummer Daniel Fang to prove a point. And that point is: it's damn-near impossible to fit Angel Du$t into a neat little box.
Tripp and Angel Du$t are familiar with skirting easy categorization. Made up of members of boundary-pushing Maryland hardcore crews Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile, the Baltimore outfit has long been saddled with some strange descriptors. Think of a genre, Angel Du$t has probably been called it: hardcore, punk, folk, rap, jazz, Americana, whatever. It's a testament to just how unselfconsciously musically weird the band is willing to get — listeners' expectations be damned.
"With Lil House, people called it folk and Americana," says Tripp (who also fronts Trapped Under Ice) of Angel Du$t's 2020 EP. "Dude, I literally didn't know what the term Americana meant before putting out Lil House. This is not Americana. This is not folk music. With [2019's] Pretty Buff, it was pop punk. What the fuck pop punk have you ever heard that sounds like this?"
And he's not wrong. While Angel Du$t's aesthetic is firmly grounded in a hardcore-punk spirit, the band has been experimenting with a range of different sounds and styles since their debut full-length, 2014's A.D. Tripp and his collective — the most recent studio lineup of which features Fang along with guitarists Pat McCrory and Brendan Yates (all three are also in Turnstile) — are unapologetic about their love for classic alternative pop/rock bands like the Lemonheads and the Feelies. This admiration bleeds into Angel Du$t's songs, giving them a distinct rhythm and melodic feel missing from many of their hardcore contemporaries.
There's also a noticeable — and pure — exuberance in every Angel Du$t track, which is also something you don't hear too frequently in today's punk-based music. Pretty Buff saw them branch out even further by adding acoustic guitars (and saxophones) to their songs. (Check the fresh-as-hell "Bang My Drum" and "On My Way.")
Now Angel Du$t are releasing YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs, which feels like the culmination of all the different sounds they've been working with to date — and then some. Building off Pretty Buff's inclusion of quirkier instruments, YAK covers a lot of sonic ground. Take "Truck Songs," on which bouncing Seventies-esque synthesizers morph with in-your-face hooks resulting in an unbridled odyssey of rock. The Du$t also gets big ups from Rancid's Tim Armstrong on "Dancing on the Radio," a departure for both parties in a jazzy, smooth way.
"Tim Armstrong is somebody I have admired since I was a little kid," Tripp says of the Bay Area punk icon. "Like literally I'm not saying this to fit the narrative: I would not be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for Tim Armstrong. 100 percent I would be a completely different human being."
Ahead of YAK's release (on October 22nd via Roadrunner Records) we caught up with Tripp for a chat about the new songs, which took some fun detours into the "really bad rap songs" he wrote as a six-year-old, why he's now down to be punk's "modern-day Jimmy Buffett" and much more.
I KNOW YOU CAUGHT PNEUMONIA RECENTLY. ARE YOU DOING OK?
JUSTICE TRIPP Yeah, I got COVID for a couple of weeks and then the day I tested negative for COVID I started getting pneumonia symptoms and had a little bit to juggle. But I'm bouncing back, I'm definitely not 100 percent. That's a scary thing about COVID, I'm like, Am I ever gonna be 100 percent? I've been talking to enough people… [and] a year later 100 percent isn't a thing.
WELL, I'M GLAD THINGS ARE GETTING A LITTLE BETTER. I WAS LOOKING THROUGH TIMES WE SPOKE PREVIOUSLY AND REALIZED I DON'T REALLY KNOW WHAT YOUNG JUSTICE WAS LIKE. WHEN DID YOU GET INTO SINGING?
Got my first guitar when I was six, and didn't learn how to play until I was like 18. I was 18 years old when I actually wanted to make stuff, when I was young I'd make little songs like "Bling, bling, bling." The long story, I was on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland with my stepfather and my mom and there was a homeless dude. But I didn't know he was homeless. In my head he was like rich and famous just playing acoustic guitar and singing. We were eating pretty close to him; he came up and was like, "Y'all wanna hear a song?" My dad said, "Yeah, I'll give you a couple bucks to play a song." He's like, "What song you wanna hear?" And I was like, "R.E.M. 'It's the End of the World.'" Which is the craziest song you could ever ask a human being to play. It's ridiculous, but I was like six, I didn't really understand. And this man ripped the song all the way through! Every single word, dude it was crazy. [Laughs] My dad was kind of freaking out. He was like, "Oh my God, you're incredible." Then the dude gave me a guitar pick, and it was game over. I told him, "I'm gonna be just like you when I grow up." My stepdad said, "Nah you don't wanna be just like him." And then Christmas that year I got a guitar.
YOU SAID YOU STARTED OFF PLAYING LITTLE SONGS. WHAT WERE THOSE LIKE?
I would make these like really bad rap songs but with guitar. I don't even know if there were notes involved, it might have been like, [makes guitar-strumming noise]. But I rapped; the first song I ever wrote was called "The Roller Coaster." I was six. The rap was really bad. Little six-year-old white-kid rap song. [Laughs]
YEAH. I REMEMBER GETTING A GUITAR AND NOT GETTING THAT ALL MUSIC WASN'T JUST GUITAR. LIKE GETTING PISSED THAT MY GUITAR COULDN'T SOUND LIKE A LIL' JON SONG.
Yeah. I think we're pretty close in age. I'm 35, you had experienced some of the era where they started incorporating a lot of like rock & roll into hip-hop, like Run DMC, and Public Enemy and Beastie Boys, guitars happening with hip hop. In my head it's all the same. They're the same as Guns N' Roses. I loved Guns N' Roses when I was a kid and it was just all the same. I didn't understand genres until I was like 23 or something. I was like, "Oh, you're not supposed to rap on hardcore music?" I didn't know that. [Laughs]
TOTALLY. I THINK AS A KID THE ENERGY OF WHATEVER YOU'RE LISTENING TO IS WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE CATEGORY. I FEEL LIKE WE'RE COMING OUT OF A REALLY STRICT GENRE CLASSIFICATION ERA AND PEOPLE AREN'T GIVING A SHIT AS MUCH WHAT GENRE SOMETHING IS ANYMORE.
I don't think genre serves the artist as much as it does the listener … like, "OK, I like the genre music, this is what I'm going to listen to." It's an easy way to find out what's relative to things that you'd like elsewhere. When we started Angel Du$t, I had no conscious decision on the genre. I didn't want to be a hardcore band; we were just making music. We came from hardcore, started playing hardcore shows, and it definitely influenced what we're doing. Some people say it's hardcore. I don't know. I've never really tried to place Angel Du$t. But it's interesting now, if you look at our Spotify page, all related artists are hardcore, but we're not a hardcore band by any means. Just hardcore fans making music. But this has been the history of Angel Du$t. There's no easy place to stick it. I wonder, would it have been an easier path for Angel Du$t if we were a pop-punk band? We've played "pop" music. It's fun. It's fun the way we did it, anyway. But it probably confuses a lot of people. And I understand why.
YEAH. THE MUSIC ALWAYS STRIKES ME AS FUN, ROCK MUSIC THAT HAPPENS TO BE WRITTEN BY GUYS FROM HARDCORE BANDS. I HOPE YOU DON'T FIND THIS COMPARISON OFFENSIVE, BUT I'VE BEEN THINKING A LOT ABOUT A GUY LIKE JIMMY BUFFETT. HE TAKES DIFFERENT SOURCE MATERIALS, LIKE ROCK, FOLK, COUNTRY, AND COMBINES IT INTO SOMETHING THAT'S UNDENIABLY HIS. WITH ANGEL DU$T, I FEEL LIKE THE BAND PULLS IN ALL THESE DIFFERENT GENRES AND SOUNDS AND IT ENDS UP BEING SOMETHING UNIQUELY "ANGEL DU$T" — EVEN IF IT INVOLVES A SYNTHESIZER OR AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR.
Yeah. Yeah, I can dig that, that's cool. I'm down for Jimmy Buffett. [Laughs] We can say it's like the modern-day Jimmy Buffett, I'm down for that.
[LAUGHS] I MEAN, SPECIFICALLY, I KEEP THINKING ABOUT THE SONG WITH TIM ARMSTRONG, "DANCING ON THE RADIO." IT SOUNDS SO OUT OF THE NORM FROM WHAT YOUR BAND TYPICALLY DOES — AND WHAT HE DOES — YET IT STILL SOUNDS EXTREMELY LIKE AN ANGEL DU$T TRACK.
Oh, yeah, for sure. That's exactly what that song is. It's a hodgepodge of really far-out things that don't relate to each other, and making a way to combine them. The foundation of that song was I wanted to write a Velvet Underground–influenced song with no drums — just me and a guitar. Then crazy sounds happen, maybe even strings or something, you know? And then Fang really wanted to put electronic drums on and had a couple little ideas. Then once we got in the room, Rob [Schnapf], who produced the record has a lot of crazy ideas.
So I have this rough Velvet Underground thing, then Dan's drumming, which feels super hip-hop influenced. Then Rob with the strings and all these visions and cool production stuff … like when the strings come in for the first time there's a reverse swell into the strings. Then you bring in Tim Armstrong — like this sounds like it's from outer space! That's how I perceive it. This is some space shit, which is what I want to make. … I'm not saying we recreated the wheel or something. But in the context of where people put us and where people see Angel Du$t, that's a fucking space song, dog. That's some otherworld shit.
YEAH. IT'S WILD SEEING WHO ANGEL DU$T CAN MESH WITH. THE PANDA BEAR REMIX FROM THE EP REALLY TOOK ME BY SURPRISE.
It's better than the original. He shut our whole shit down. [Laughs]
WERE YOU A BIG ANIMAL COLLECTIVE FAN BEFORE THAT?
Yeah, being from Baltimore … Animal Collective is royalty. I will say, since that's come about, I've been deeper than ever. I've become like a weirdo fanboy … Seeing somebody's creative process a little bit, seeing what he got out of our song, which is a completely different song that's just way cooler — It makes you understand and appreciate their brain a little more.
SO WHAT'S A "TRUCK SONG?"
Well... it's kind of an evolving idea. I got a truck right before we started recording this stuff. It's an old truck but with an ill speaker system. Everything we worked on, from demos to Rob's first mixes — the best spot to go listen was the truck. It's an old truck so shit's rattling when the bass hits. A lot of the mixing process for me personally became, Okay, what's making shit in the truck rattle? What's making the truck shake? You listen to it on everything: your iPhone, the little JBL speaker, the headset. But these are rock songs that are made to be played in the vehicle louder than usual. At this point when I say truck songs, I mean authentic songs, just real songs, real music. It's not Guitar Center rock & roll. It's "Truck Songs."
I DON'T KNOW IF THIS IS FUCKING DORKY, BUT I REALLY THINK HEARING MUSIC IN A CAR IS THE PUREST LISTENING EXPERIENCE …
Yeah, your brain is in a different place. That's how I write. The majority of lyrics on the record are written just like when I gotta go clear my head for a ride. And I get in there start playing demos and singing along.
YEAH TOTALLY. I THINK MOST ROCK SONGS I'VE CONNECTED TO I'VE HEARD IN A CAR. LIKE I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER MY COUSIN PLAYING "SOUTH OF HEAVEN" FOR THE FIRST TIME, HOW LOUD THAT WAS. EVEN IF IT'S A CORNY TRACK, HOW MUCH FUN JIMMY EAT WORLD WAS TO HEAR ON THE RADIO. THESE MOMENTS KIND OF STICK WITH YOU AFTER YOUR HEAR IT WHILE YOU'RE ON THE ROAD…
Yeah, I think all my favorite music that I really remember from my childhood is 50s or 60s rock & roll and doo-wop. Being in my grandma's car, and like not knowing what anything in the world was cause I was so young. Just her tapping her steering wheel, and old ladies make this noise to the music. Tapping her wheel out of time. And that happening in the background as I'm taking in the world, seeing these new things. My mom played Rod Stewart in her car. She loved Rod Stewart, and then it became visual. The first time I saw a Guns N' Roses music video, thinking, Oh, that's what people who make music look like. Okay.
WHAT'S THE PERFECT ROCK SONG?
"Dead Stop" by Negative Approach. I don't know, man. [Laughs] Obviously, I love guitars. So like, there's a guitar element in the perfect rock song, of course. Live drum kit. It's really about energy. There's so many ways to convey that. I'm constantly learning new ways to convey that, you know? Because I don't know, like, the song "Ready to Die" by Biggie is a rock song. It's not, but it is — because the energy of it. It's so aggressive and so authentic. And he's talking about stuff at street level that regardless of genre [has that] rock mentality. It comes down to the same thing that makes punk, punk. I don't know, man, I just wanna hear something really authentic.
YEAH. I MEAN, I'VE SHOWN FRIENDS WHO AREN'T NECESSARILY INTO HEAVIER STUFF THE OLD TRAPPED UNDER ICE STUFF, AND THEY GET IT BECAUSE THE SONGS GO BEYOND "HARDCORE." THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT JUST WRITING A ROCK SONG IN A DIFFERENT FORMAT THAT ATTRACTS PEOPLE.
It's interesting, I think the worst bands that I find in any genre music, are bands that are listening to hardcore punk bands and trying to emulate those way too hard. Probably the coolest hardcore band right now is Section Eight, and those fools are listening to a pretty broad spectrum of things. They love Guns N' Roses, their stuff is probably more influenced by Guns N' Roses than it is by other modern hardcore bands. It's taking that attitude and putting it in the context of guitars with more distortion, and drums that follow that pattern.
With Trapped Under Ice, I don't think we ever, with exception of classic Hatebreed songs, said, "We gotta do something like this" — where it's like, you know, the classic hardcore structure. Every song we ever wrote consciously, there was some influence outside of hardcore that was the main influence for the song. I remember writing the seven-inch "Stay Cold." [Trapped Under Ice guitarist] Sam [Trapkin's] big influence at the time was Ice-T's Power; he was trying to like replicate that energy. There were times where he was like, "Hey, I'm referencing this song off 'Power,' I want you to do something vocally here that does that." I think if you're looking at music that sounds like your music to make music, it's gonna sound stale. I guess that applies to everything I do, and I would imagine a lot of great artists are inspired by music not in the genre they play.