The Golden Famile are fronted by former Pennyblackmusic writer Darrell Angus. Since forming in Ottawa in 2001, the Golden Family have extended from a three piece into a seven piece. As well as Darrell (vocals, guitars, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, organ), the group also consists of Richard Jeffrey (guitars, vocals, piano, organ) ; Mike Sheridan (drums, percussion) : Nathaniel Hurlow (bass guitar) ; Jennifer “Casey” Comeau (organ, vocals, guitar), Ryan Hough (violin) and Jay Baird (saxophone).

The band have now recorded two albums, both of which have been released on local label Music for Cats. The first, the haunting, slow-core ‘Golden Famile’ (2001), drew the group  likenesses with Low, Kepler and Daniel Lanois. The second, the distinctly louder ‘Eastern Cloudy’ found the versatile Golden Famile changing direction. The band were described on it it by the Splendid webzine as having “made a better Neil Young than Young has himself in recent years”, and it has also drawn favourable comparisions with Paul Westerberg and Camper Van Beethoven.

The Golden Famile are soon to go into the studio to begin work on their third album. Pennyblackmusic spoke with Darrell about ‘Eastern Cloudy’, and the band’s increasing impact in Europe.


PB : Everyone who has joined the Golden Famile was a friend long before they became a band member. Has that had many advantages ? Has it been anyway disadvantageous? 

DA : I think it works well for us. I really love being surrounded by friends. Thats the whole idea behind the Famile.                                                                                              

PB : The Golden Famile have expanded from being a three piece at the time of ‘Golden Famile’ to a five piece by ‘Eastern Cloudy’ and is now currently operating as a seven piece. Do you hope to add more members still ? 

DA : I  like the amount of noise we've been making lately. I think we'll probably stick with seven members for awhile. The next record, however,  will have a few extra players on it. 

PB : The  Golden Famile have been bracketed by many critics as being an alt. country group, yet you yourself generally tend to describe it as a folk act. Why do you prefer that latter definition ?

DA : We just don't like being labeled. Critics call us alt. country, which is fine-lotsa great bands play this style of music, but whenever you get labeled you tend to become part of a scene you have nothing to do with. I call the Golden Famile  a folk act because for me music can be broken down into the blues, country, and folk. Most of my records have that in common and my faves tend to be the folkier ones. Same thing with songwriting.

PB :  You’re the songwriter in the group, while the other musicians in the group are “a mixed bag of punk rockers, classically trained  musicians and indie rockers”. How do the  group’s dynamics work , and what do you feel the other members of the group bring to the band ?

DA : We work really well together. I'm continually amazed by the Famile. I never tell anyone what to play. Everyone worksin  their own thing and I've always liked it. I'll come in with a new song and everyone picks it up quite fast. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by such talented people. 

PB : Most of  the members of the band are at least in other other band. Richard and yourself are both in Casey Comeau and the  Halfmilers, while Casey is in the Golden Famile. Nathaniel is in the Glads, and Richard is also in RPJ and Denisa. All those acts have had their own albums out on  Music for Cats. Is the Ottawa and Music for Cats scene particulary close knit, or is some of that down to coincidence ?

DA :  We're quite a close knit bunch. We all play on each others projects and support one another 110%. Music for Cats has been an incredible outlet for all of us.

PB : You were brought up in Kingston, Ontario, which is quite remote. Many of the songs on both albums deal with alienation in one form or another. While you now live in the city, a lot of the songs also have a backwoods, rootsy feel. Do you think your upbringing had had an effect on your songwriting ?

DA : Kingston isn't that remote. It's more of a college town with a lot of Celtic bands. I think the biggest effect on my songwriting has been the records I've acquired over the years.

PB :  ’Eastern, Cloudy’ features all original tracks other than ‘Dark as a Dungeon’, which is a Merle Travis tune. Why did you decide to put that on the album ?

DA : We enjoyed playing it and decided to hit the record button. Actually, I think it's one of the better sounding tracks on the record. I doubt we'll ever put a cover on a record again though as the paper work and wait-time were a real pain in the ass.

PB : Much has been made by critics of the band’s Canadian nationality. One of the tracks on ‘Eastern, Cloudy’ is, however,  entitled ‘For California’. What was the inspiration behind that ?

DA : It's a song about waiting for someone who's at a crossroads in their life and watching them go the wrong way. 

PB :  ‘Eastern Cloudy’ features spectacular artwork on its sleeve by William Schaff. Who is he ?

DA : William is an amazing person. He's based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. and has done album artwork for Songs:Ohia, Okkervil River, and many others. His work is as frightening as it is beautiful and everyone should check out his website. He was very generous with us and we are indebted to him. "Eastern, Cloudy" wouldn't be the same without it.

PB : You have promoted ‘Eastern, Cloudy’ by sending it around as many worldwide college radio stations as you could find. Has that policy paid off ? Are American and European, as well as Canadian audiences, liable to catch dates by Golden Famile in the near future ?

DA : Sending the record around the world has helped us out a lot. We get played on all kinds of radio shows and get emails from all over the world. It really amazes me to see a message from someone in Austria who digs the record. There are Canadian dates in the works for summer, and we'd love to come to Europe sometime. Getting everyone's schedules to mesh is a bit difficult but we're working on it. 

PB : You recorded ‘Eastern, Cloudy’ in your basement on eight track. You’re soon going to be be beginning work on your third album, which you are going to be a recording in a studio in upstate New York. Why have you decided to take the band there ? When do you hope to bring that third album out ?

DA : We start work on record #3 at the end of March. We're going to be heading to Montreal and a studio called Hotel2Tango. Upstate NY didn't work out. The new album will be out by the summer. Hopefully, world domination follows that.

PB : Thank you

The top two photos were taken by Cara Ross














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