Listen to the heartfelt, acoustic-driven rock songs that fill Angels Fall’s debut album Yesterday’s Gone and the intentions of the music’s creator, singer-songwriter Joel Jorgensen, are crystal clear. “My goal is for people to attach a memory to the songs when they hear them, because that’s what music did for me when I was younger,” Jorgensen explains. “It would become part of me; part of a situat
ion. Now, when I listen to Alice In Chains’ Unplugged album, it takes me way back to hanging out at keg parties in the mountains in Colorado, playing those songs on my guitar. It’s powerful when music has that kind of effect.”
As frontman for the Los Angeles-based rock band Angels Fall, Jorgensen will have plenty of opportunity to help his listeners create their own memories when Epic Records releases Yesterday’s Gone. Produced by Mike Flynn (The Fray, Augustana) and Warren Huart, and co-produced by Jorgensen, Yesterday’s Gone is a showcase for Jorgensen’s rich, emotionally transparent voice, melodic gifts, and keen lyrical insights about love and the human condition on songs like first single “Drunk Enough,” “Call On Me,” “Good Bye To You,” and the title track. “I really like writing about love,” Jorgensen says. “Everybody falls in and out of love. Everybody loves their lover and hates their lover. There's a lot to say. And I’m drawn to writing about love in context of the past. Every song serves as a bit of closure for each situation in my life. I try to experience as much as possible. I've lived a crazy life in the name of music.”
Jorgensen was born in a lighthouse in Eureka, California, while his parents were members of a commune called Lighthouse Ranch. A year and a half after his birth, his parents left and raised Jorgensen between Denver and Colorado Springs. Jorgensen’s first musical memory is of trying to play his father’s guitar at the age of five. “I had gotten my hands on this guitar he had sitting out, and he came home and found me,” Jorgensen says. “I could barely even hold the thing, but I was trying to pluck the strings.” His father taught him a few chords and Jorgensen took it from there, taking inspiration from the classical music and classic rock his mother favored, artists like Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin.
It was a dream Jorgensen had about Joplin at age nine that awakened his realization that he wanted to be a professional musician. “I was taking a nap while watching the film Woodstock and had fallen asleep right before Janis Joplin's performance,” he recalls. “In my dream, I was standing in the crowd looking up at the stage, and Janis was up there singing. She stepped down off the stage and walked up to me, circling around me with her finger on my shoulder while singing to me. When I woke up, that was the moment I thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
When Jorgensen was 19, a freak accident, in which lightning struck the apartment building he was in while he was playing guitar, nearly derailed his ambitions by frying the tendons and tips of his fingers. “That’s when I started singing and really listening to melodies and lyrics,” he says, “because I wanted to keep creating music. Even if my hands weren’t working, I had to find a way to do it because it was the one thing in my life that I loved more than anything. It’s the one thing that gives me peace and happiness.”
In 2004, Jorgensen quit his job at Guitar Center in Colorado Springs, packed his clothes and guitar into his car, and moved to Los Angeles where he took odd jobs as a waiter and a mover before landing a gig working security at The House of Blues in Hollywood. Two years in, he got to speaking to a co-worker whose brother turned out to be a music manager. The co-worker suggested that Jorgensen send his brother a demo of his songs, which Jorgensen did, sending 50 songs to Isaac Heymann and Michael Goldberg at 108 Management, who loved what they heard and asked him for more material. “I put my nose to the grindstone and did nothing but write for two months,” Jorgensen says. “I was living in a little apartment and had built a tiny studio between the hallway and the bathroom. I turned out another 20 songs, including ‘Angel,’ ‘Goodbye To You,’ and ‘Yesterday's Gone,’ and sent them off. Those were the songs that got me signed to Sony.”
After recording Yesterday’s Gone over two months in the Fall of 2010, Angels Fall played their first live show the following April at the Gibson Guitar Showroom in Los Angeles for the staff of motorcycle maker Harley Davidson — a very special concert for Jorgensen who has ridden every single day since buying and rebuilding an ’80s-era Honda Shadow after moving to L.A. “I love the freedom of being on a motorcycle,” he says. “I’ve got a close group of guys out here who have ended up becoming my adopted brothers through riding motorcycles; we started a club called the Whiskey Boys.” The Whiskey Boys, who appear in the video for “Drunk Enough,” ride bikes that Harley Davidson lent for the shoot, including the Cross Bones cruiser that Jorgensen rides in the video. “Harley Davidson has been really supportive,” he says. “Bill Davidson took me out for a ride and gave me a lot of props for what I’m doing with my life, which felt really good to hear,” Jorgensen says.
In June, Angels Fall hit the road for their maiden tour with Seether for a string of dates in the South and Midwest and played to an audience of 15,000 for the final show. “That night went so quickly,” he says. “We hit the last note and I was watching the crowd. People were screaming and cheering. I looked over at Billy and Ben Jindra, my bass player who has been my friend since I moved to L.A., and they were grinning from ear to ear. We threw our hands up in the air, said ‘Thank you!’ and that was it. I was like, ‘This is it. I'm home.’”