You may remember Drew Angus (Staples ’07) as a kid running around Westport or as an American Idol finalist in 2016. Perhaps you recognized him in one of his two SNL appearances, or saw him open this summer’s 1st Annual “Sound on Sound Festival,” followed by the likes of Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews, and The Lumineers.
He and his self-described sound, “Americana and Rock ‘n Roll with a little bit of Funk and Retro Soul,” is gaining traction. So if you don’t know him now, you will.
WLM was honored to have him perform at our Reader’s Choice celebration this year, and asked him a few questions so you can get to know him better.
WLM: What are two of your favorite songs - ones you wrote or others - and why?
Drew Angus (DA): I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty - Tom Petty is one of my biggest musical heroes and I think his record Full Moon Fever is one of the all-time best. Tom has been a big influence in my sound, and when he passed I was crushed. He inspired Me + You, which I wrote with my buddy Neil Herman.
I wrote Made to Love You with my buddy Matt Giella for my best friends’ wedding. I love this song because it’s sweet and honest. It quickly got picked up by many first dance and wedding song playlists. I get DM’s from couples all over the world who are using my song in their wedding. It feels really good knowing that something I’ve written affects people in a positive way.
WLM: Tell me about the charitable organizations you support.
DA: Music Cares offers an amazing support system for people working in this cutthroat industry. This is an important organization to me because during the pandemic they provided grants and resources to artists like me who were out of work and trying to navigate the early stages of lockdown. They are a fantastic group.
I also recently started working with another organization called Backline Care which provides mental health services to music industry professionals.
WLM: In one of your two SNL skits, you shared the stage with both Jimmy Fallon and Harry Styles. Who did you like better and why? Can’t choose both.
DA: This isn't like ice cream, I can’t just pick one flavor! They’re both fun and funny people. Jimmy is a great comedian and late night host and Harry is a musical voice of a generation. I loved working with both of them and hope to again in the future.
WLM: Was it hard not to laugh while watching Jimmy during rehearsals?
DA: Rehearsals for SNL were wild. It was quick, high energy, and exciting.
Honestly I was focused on the job initially, but yes there were many moments of laughter and joking around. Jimmy and the rest of the cast were cracking jokes the whole time while they reworked the script and blocking. It all happened so quickly that by the end I turned to my friend Ian who also [a musician in the skit] and said “Did you just see what I saw?!”
WLM: In a 2016 Inklings article, you admit that a lot of what goes on behind the AI scene “isn’t pretty.” For all of us former AI junkies, please spill some dirt.
DA: My experience on the show was such a whirlwind and when the dust settled I was left thinking “Ok, what now?”
I met so many incredible singers and musicians who never got a second of TV time in that casting process. It’s a tough game show and you have to play the game to get further in the contest. I made it to the Top 75 before I got kicked off and although I had a great time, I think that was enough for me.
WLM: Your song, Wrecking Ball, recalls how upsetting it was to witness the razing of the house in which you were raised. Have you ever considered telling your parents that letting you see that was a really bad idea?
DA: I mean, I got a good song out of it so it couldn’t have been that bad. Wrecking Ball is the story of my parents moving out of my childhood home, then we all watched those memories being buried by a bulldozer.
Walking through each room for the last time, I was reminded of so many moments. Funny moments, like our annual Christmas party when my uncle popped a bottle of red wine and stained the ceiling. Scary moments, like when a hurricane caused a tree to crash through the bathroom window and split the toilet in half. And happy moments, like when my brothers and I would climb up on our parents’ bed for a nighttime story.
While it’s sad to lose the physical places we grow up in, Wrecking Ball is a song to remind us that material things don’t matter when you have stories and people to share them with. That’s what keeps memories alive.
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"I get DM’s from couples all over the world who are using my song in their wedding. It feels really good knowing that something I’ve written affects people in a positive way."