GospelbeacH Takes It Back to Laurel Canyon With 'Dark Angel': Premiere

 Sally Peterson


Brent Rademaker wanted to "make some rock n' roll" with Let It Burn, the third album from his band GospelbeacH -- whose "Dark Angel" is premiering exclusively below. But there was also a certain kind of rock n' roll Rademaker wanted to create, whose philosophy dovetailed with the lush, Laurel Canyon-inspired vibe of the 11-track album.

"I really wanted to do what my heroes do," Rademaker, also a co-founder of Beachwood Sparks and Further, tells Billboard. "I wanted to marry what was happening in my life in the last year with the craft of songwriting. When you talk about (Tom) Petty and Jackson Browne and Joni (Mitchell) and (David Crosby) -- I'm not comparing myself to them at all, but they wanted to make rock n' roll records that reflected their life and also make some nice little songs and make it sound as good as you can without overdubbing the shit out of it." In Rademaker's case that meant dealing with the death of his father and the end of his marriage, as well as external concerns such as the California wildfires and the 2018 shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

"I definitely wanted to do that cathartic thing, where you write song about what's going on with your life, even if it's kind of gnarly, and make it listenable," says Rademaker, who wrote Let It Burn's songs with drummer Trevor Beld Jimenez, quickly adding that "none of it's hurtful to anybody at all, but it's super real."

"Dark Angel," the album's muscular but melodic first single, "says everything about what's going on with me," according to Rademaker. "It's not so much about a person as it is a dark feeling," he explains. "And it's more about letting all those things go, getting rid of the dark feelings and those negative emotions. In the past I've been notorious for handling bad news really shitty. So when I was writing for this (album) and some truly bad things happened -- my father dying, the lady I loved leaving me -- I said, 'I'm gonna handle this the right way,' and I was really proud of myself. I kept it really mellow. I had some anger and some hurt, but I didn’t want to put that on tape in the same way I might have before."

Let It Burn is due out Oct. 4 and marks the return of guitarist and Beachwood Sparks bandmate Neal Casal, also of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, to the ranks, along with keyboardist Jonny Niemann, bassist Ben Reddell and backing vocalist Nelson Bragg. Noting that GospelbeacH has yet to tour the U.S., Rademaker is hoping to change that situation later this year or early next. And he also hopes to fast-track some more music from the band -- which Rademaker predicts will come from a happier place as well. "We're going to set out to make something that's not so much about my life but just celebrates rock n' roll and California and the West Coast and all of that -- music that's unfashionable right now, like guitar rock from the '70s," Rademaker says with a laugh. "But, y'know, it seems like people still look to the past, so maybe it's not doomed, y'know? Maybe when people hear (Let It Burn) they'll go 'This is not bad' and come back for what we do next."

If Rademaker has his way, too, the next GospelbeacH album will be released on his new just-launched venture, Curation Records. (Let It Burn is on Alive Naturalsound Records.) Rademaker is working with some younger bands in California, including the George Harrison covers band George's Lord, and hopes to have formal releases to announce in the near future.