Yesterday, we previewed Juliana Hatfield‘s Happy Hour show at Rumba Cafe on Friday night. Today, we’re introducing you to the opening band, On Being An Angel. Based in Austin, Texas, On Being An Angel formed in 2019 when singer/guitarist Paige Applin met guitarist Nick Flitton and the two bonded over the music of artists like Dinosaur Jr. and Eric’s Trip, two bands integral to the band’s sound.
A scroll through Paige’s Instagram account reveals someone who is as obsessed with ’90s alt-rock as I am. From photos with Louise Post (Veruca Salt) and Bob Pollard (Guided By Voices) to show fliers where On Being An Angel has shared bills with Quicksand, Duster, Quasi, Julie Dorion and The Lemonheads, there was little doubt that I was going to love this band even before hearing a single note.
A late 2022 tour opening a number of dates for The Lemonheads opened the door for a quick Midwest tour – the first for the band – supporting Juliana Hatfield. As Juliana is performing solo, On Being An Angel will be playing as a duo rather than a full band when they hit the Rumba stage at 6pm.
I spoke with Paige just a few days before she hit the road with Nick to meet up with Juliana and learned how the band has gotten so many great opportunities, where they fit within the Austin music scene, and what is coming next.
You play shows with a lot of my favorite bands from the ‘90s. Are you a go-to band when promoters are looking to add a local band to the bill or are you reaching out to venues looking for opportunities?
I guess it’s kind of been a little bit of each. I definitely have a couple friends around town who book and they’ll hit us up If a show comes around that we’ll be a good fit. Other times, it’s just like somehow I’ve become friends with other bands through Instagram. With Walter (Schreifels, Quicksand), I just became buddies with their Instagram. One of my friends was helping book the show in Austin and he mentioned our band. They were like, “Oh yeah, let’s have them open.” So that kind of worked out.
We didn’t open for Louise Post (Veruca Salt) but I saw they had some gear stolen at the beginning of their tour. I hit her up on Instagram and was like, “Hey, if you need any gear for the show, feel free to hit us up. We’ve got Marshall Stacks, stuff like that. Whatever you need, we can help out.” We just got to talking. We didn’t get to open that show, unfortunately, because our drummer couldn’t make it but Louise used some of our gear and we got to hang out a bit. She’s super sweet and she was like, “Let’s tour together” and I’m like, “Please. Whenever. Let me know!”
I just kind of got lucky on that front. That was the same case with the Lemonheads tour last year. I happened to meet Evan Dando during SXSW last year and we hit it off, became buddies, and we were texting each other. He’s like, “Your band should open for us,” and I was like, “I would love to.” It was part luck, I feel like and part of being in an awesome town where there’s a lot of music happening.
And you’re doing some hustling too, right?
I feel like everyone’s a person so I don’t feel like I can’t reach out to them. I’m like, “Hey, from one band to another band … What’s up? I love your music. I would love to play a show with you. If you need anything, hit me up.” I feel like sometimes people idolize musicians a lot. These are definitely people I look up to but, at the same time, they are just another human being. So, I just try and talk to them and who knows what’ll happen?
You’ve got a ‘90s sound but it’s not dated. It’s easy to see how you can support those bands but also play your own shows and sound like 2023. Did you grow up with ‘90s music or was there some sort of pivotal moment where you heard something that caused your life to change?
It’s a little bit of both. I definitely listened to ‘90s music when I was growing up, but just what was on the radio. And when I started finding my own music outside of the radio, I got into the pop-punk scene. Paramore was a big band for me where I was like, “Hayley Williams as a front person is really great.” That was someone who opened my eyes. I’m like, “Hey, I can do this too.” She was my age at the time, maybe a little bit older. So I was choosing somebody that I could look up to.
I started broadening my music horizons even more and dug deeper into the stuff that I already kind of liked, but maybe never fully got into, I was curating my own sound. At first I started out a little softer, mostly because I was playing alone. I didn’t know anybody else to play with, so it was just me and guitar. But I knew I wanted to start a band and play with other people.
I started by asking my guitar player, Nick, who I knew from another band. I knew he had good taste and good sound so I was like, “Do you want to jam with me? And do you know anybody else that would want to jam with us too?” It worked out meeting like-minded people. We definitely all are inspired by 90s music, but we also all really love classic rock. And so it’s being able to find stuff in different kinds of genres and put it together.
If you had used Craigslist to put together the band, what would your ad have said?
That’s a good question. I like to be loud and fuzzy and rock, but at the same time, I really like pop melodies. I like stuff that’s catchy and stuff that gets stuck in your head. I like to meld the two. I’ve always felt Dinosaur Jr has been a big inspiration for that because they do that really well. They were on of the first bands me and Nick bonded over. “Oh, you like Dinosaur Jr?” We were all like, “This is the kind of vibe that we want to go for – poppy but loud and rock too.” It’s just fun to get fuzzy and be loud but, at the same time, I like being able to have stuff that gets stuck in my head.
I’ve never met J Mascis but I did see him in the Austin airport when we both were flying out after SXSW. He was asleep with an open Stephen King book on his chest.
He’s so quiet and keeps to himself. He’s a little intimidating in that sense. I met him one time during the Levitation Festival at the end of 2019. He was playing and my friend knows their booking agent. We were just hanging around and one of them said, “I’ll take you over and introduce you. “ I was like, “Oh my God, I don’t know.” Most of the time I don’t get nervous but he was somebody that made me nervous. I think it’s because he doesn’t speak much. I didn’t want to just talk nonsense to fill space, so it was kind of like, “Hi. Okay. Bye” We got a picture and it was funny because he was holding these beet chips. In the picture, he’s got his arm around me with a handful of beet chips and we’re both laughing. I was like, “Wow, J’s actually smiling in this picture.”
You mentioned trading messages with Evan Dando. How does that work? He says “You should open for us” but what happens next?
I have friends who say to me, “Let’s tour together” and then it never actually materializes. So, I imagined it being one of those things. We were sending each other videos of songs back and forth. I sent him one of our new songs and he said, “I love it. We should tour together.” A couple of weeks passed and he said it again. Then finally, a couple more weeks passed and he’s like, “I gave my agent your info, you should be expecting a call this week and it’ll get all sorted out.” Then I heard from his agent and was like, “Oh, I guess this is actually happening. This is crazy.” Half of the tour was with Juliana and Evan was like, “You’re going to love it. It’s going to be so much fun.” Once I talked to his booked agent, he got everything sorted out. I found myself being our booking agent and managing stuff like that. I’ve gotten really lucky with it all falling into place pretty easily where I haven’t had to reach out to others as far as trying to hire a booking agent or anything like that. Fingers crossed.
Does working at a record store give you the ability to hit the road when you need to?
I’ve worked at a record store here in Austin for five or six years. My bosses are super supportive and they are super understanding. They’re like, “Go on tour. We’ll see you when you get back.” We’re actually going to do a little record release show at the shop on November 3 when the 7-inch comes out, which is going to be fun.
In every scene, there are bands that take every gig they can get and then those who are more selective. I guess it depends on whether or not you consider On Being An Angel to be a local band or a national touring band. What do you in terms of playing locally?
We try to space them out because we don’t want to water it down and be like, “You can come see us any week.” We want to make it a thing so I definitely end up turning down a decent amount of shows just so we can keep it spread out. We end up playing here once a month. But, if there’s a show we want to play, we’ll play it. We’re trying to tour as much as we can but it’s costly and we all have full-time jobs. We’re all a little bit lazy too. It’s worked out that the Lemonhead tour turned into this Juliana tour where it’s already been booked and we just got added to it.
I haven’t gone through the process of booking a tour yet and I know it’s hard. Maybe that’s another thing that’s stopped me from doing it sooner because I know it’s a lot of work.
Do people come out to see you specifically when you play locally or do you find better receptions on the road?
We definitely do good at shows in Austin. We get some play on the college radio stations and we have a good college-age following as well as people my age that are within the scene and in bands. I’m always surprised at every show where it’s like, “This is better than I was expecting.” It’s great to see new people and whenever people buy merch afterwards, they are so nice and supportive. I just get sucked into the idea that every show we play is just going to be our friends so it’s cool to know that there are people who are into it.
When we were on the road last year with the Lemonheads, it was really cool when people would come up to us at the merch table afterwards and say, “I wasn’t expecting there to be an opener and you guys were sick.” It’s cool to know we are doing something that is worth putting time and effort into and it’s clicking with people, it’s clicking with the crowd that I consider myself to be part of. Those are the people that I want to like it. Those are my people.
You opened for Julie Dorion which seems just a little bit like a strange bill. You’re loud and fuzzy and she is more quiet.
We all love Eric’s Trip, the first band Julie was in. That was another inspiration that everyone in the band was connected to. We did an Eric’s Trip cover in 2019. Julie Dorion was playing the record store that I work at and that was one where it was easy to ask my boss, “Hey, can I play too? We can make it into a full show” and he was like, “That sounds good.” I made a show flier and everything. Me and my guitar player played as a duo for that show so it was a more stripped down kind of thing to match the vibe that she was going for.
Have you ever been on a bill where you didn’t fit at all?
We’ve been asked about it but I can’t say that we’ve actually done any of them. I guess the less fitting one would have been when we played with Unsane for one show. It was a Free Week show where there were some outside bands and some inside bands. It was all one show technically so we were on the same bill as Unsane and some other loud, noise rock bands outside. It was fun. We were inside doing our little pop melodies and outside was very loud. We’ve played with hardcore bands too, which is always kind of funny. It’s kind of funny sometimes to see that contrast. At the same time, we somehow find those people being our fans too, we have a crossover there because we’re loud.
Do you have a favorite venue in Austin to play?
I like playing the Mohawk. They have an inside and outside stage. Both stages are cool so it’s nice to play there. And I like going to watch shows there too. I think my favorite spot that we hit when we were on tour was the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. The place looks beautiful. It’s got little gold carvings everywhere. Our name was on the marquee too, which is nice.
Your new single is coming out next month. What are the short term plans and what are the dreams?
That’s a good question. The single comes out at the beginning of November and then we have a couple little Texas tours in November. One at the beginning with the band Supercrash and then one later in the month with Angel Dust. That one is just hitting up San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Houston.
I haven’t really planned anything past the end of this year. Next year I just want to try and do another tour. I’ve been dying to somehow play a show with my friends with Dinosaur Jr. so that’s my goal next year. We want to obviously get a full record together next. This seven-inch kind surprised us. Joe from American Laundromat hit us up and was like, “Hey, would you guys be interested in putting out a seven-inch? I like your guys’ sound and I work with Juliana,” and we were like, “Yeah, that sounds great.”
He helped us out with getting us into a studio and recording us and everything and that was a lot of fun. I’d like to do that again with the full record. We don’t have enough songs for a full record yet so we’re gonna finish that, hopefully get a drummer locked down soon.
Any merch you’ll be bringing on the road to sell at the show in Columbus?
We won’t have the seven-inch quite yet but we will have CDs of the last EP that we did that has “Favorite Doll,” “Brit Boy,” and “You Say” on it.