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Band Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons add ‘bite,’ ‘howl’ to ‘rootsy-rock’ sound

“I never thought I had a singer’s voice but I loved singing (and) Bob Dylan really inspired me with his different voice,” said Angela Perley, frontwoman of Columbus-based band Angela Perley and The Howlin’ Moons. Credit: Courtesy of Kevin James

“I never thought I had a singer’s voice but I loved singing (and) Bob Dylan really inspired me with his different voice,” said Angela Perley, frontwoman of Columbus-based band Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons.
Credit: Courtesy of Kevin James

In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s“Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band every week. 

Angela Perley is an old soul, with a vintage style in her music and personality.

“I was always the kid on the bus that wanted to listen to the oldies station,” she said. “I listened to my grandparents’ old country music.”

In person, the 27-year-old is calm and pleasant, but on stage, her voice bellows with a folky twang as she strums her guitar and occasionally whips out other things to play, like the saw.

“I never thought I had a singer’s voice but I loved singing,” she said. “Bob Dylan really inspired me with his different voice.”

Perley is the front woman of Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons, and the band’s style is a reflection of the leader herself.

Perley started playing piano, violin and guitar while attending high school at Hilliard-Darby.

The group formed in 2009, when guitarists and bassists Chris Connor and Billy Zehnal were brought in to play as back-up for Perley.

“She had a vision and we were just there to support that vision,” Connor said. “But slowly but surely, we’ve gotten more comfortable with the boundaries.”

The band teamed up with a number of different drummers for a while before cementing percussionist Steve Rupp. Rupp has been playing drums his whole life, and works at his father’s drum store, Columbus Percussion. The band’s dynamic and personality took shape after their members were solidified.

“It really affected the band,” Connor said. “You can tell the difference when you’re playing consistently with the same people.”

Rupp agreed developing a close bond over the past few years has improved the band’s sound.

“It has really helped,” he said. “Once you start getting to understand where the others are musically, you are comfortable enough to try new things and know they will help you bring it back.”

As the band became closer and more comfortable with each other, the music developed its own distinctive feel, Perley explained.

“The band started having its own sound, and it kind of has a ‘bite’ and a ‘howl’ to it,” Perley said in reference to the group’s name.

Rupp described their sound as “rootsy-rock.”

Aside from improving the sound, the band’s closeness also led to a romantic relationship between Perley and Connor, who is an attorney by day.

“We were really great friends the whole time. It just developed after getting to know each other and playing together,” Perley said.

The couple now shares an apartment in Grandview and support one another on and off stage.

“We’re on the road a lot so we get to be with each other,” Connor said. “You don’t have to deal with those issues of being away from someone you care about.”

Their bond helps drive both the band’s external affairs and its music.

“I thought it might change the chemistry of the band,” Perley said. “But it’s really like a little family now.”

The band’s first full-length album “Hey Kid” is set to be released January. The title comes from one of the songs’ lyrics: “Don’t you even blink an eye/When some stranger passing by/Says hey kid is something wrong.”

“It has an old movie vibe to it,” Perley said. “I wanted to do something different that’s kind of off, but still makes sense. And it’s our debut album so it’s kind of like we’re the new kids on the block.”

The album’s single, “Hurricane,” was released Oct. 29.

“Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons have a great sound that could only come from the Midwest,” said CD 102.5 DJ Tom Butler in an email, “’Hurricane’ is a great bluesy rocker that gets a ton of requests. Listeners love her.”

The album is set to have many songs that the band has been performing at its live shows.

“It’s trial and error through the live shows, and the songs evolve every time we play them,” Perley said. “We develop a well-oiled song that we perform then record it.”

The album release show is set for Jan. 17 at Skully’s. Rupp said release shows are some of his favorite performances because the audience has vested interest in the band.”

When we had an EP release at Rumba Café, it was great because it was packed with people there just to see us,” he said. “I’d rather have a crowd of 100 people who appreciate the music than 1,000 people who are just there.”

Perley, Connor and Rupp agree that they hope to be able to make a living with the band full time in the future, “whether that means making it really big or just big enough to be comfortable living off the music,” Rupp said.

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