Since the early 90’s the highly acclaimed band, Wild Colonials have been charming music critics and audiences alike with their eclectic rock sound which incorporates everything from the low blow of a Didgeridoo to the sweet rub of a violin.  To experience the music of Wild Colonials is to take a step into a realm of rock where most dare not go, yet they pull it off brilliantly.  

    Their story began in early 1992 at an Irish pub in Los Angeles called Café Beckett.  Singer Angela McCluskey had gathered together a group of fellow musicians to arrange a musical evening to showcase her friend/guitarist Shark, who had recently relocated to Los Angeles.  Brought aboard were Paul Cantelon on violin and piano; Scott Roewe on bass, keyboards, and saxophone; and other special guests. The event evolved into a regular gig from the group soon to be known as Wild Colonials, named after the Irish song “Wild Colonial Boy.” 

    “By about the fourth week, we knew we had something,” Angela reveals.  A few months later, the band moved their residency to the larger Café Largo where the group developed an even larger following. The buzz that developed in the L.A. music scene procured the Colonials a record deal with Geffen Records. Fruit Of Life (1994) and This Can’t Be Life (1996) were both released to critical acclaim, landing the group the second  stage headliner slot for the prestigious Lilith Fair lineup in 1997. 

    The band has had their music featured in over thirty films and counting. With three band members (Shark, Paul, and Scott) scoring entire films. The various non-album songs and score cues were compiled for their third album, Reel Life Vol. 1 (2000), featuring their songs and score cues recorded and composed for films ranging from Disney’s Mr. Wrong and the quirky indie sensation Flirting With Disaster to the Sundance Film Festival hit Dead Man’s Curve.  Also notable were guest appearances from Cyndi Lauper on the single “If By Chance” as well as Angela’s duet with Dr. John on “Anything But Love.” The Reel Life record release party was held in Sundance during the film festival, where the band also headlined Slamdance’s Music in Film 2000.

    Touring nationally behind the Reel Life album, the Wild Colonials played a special WYEP invite-only performance at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh that was broadcast on more than 124 AAA radio stations across the country.  The band also scored a #1 AAA radio hit with the single “Friend” from the album.

Life As They Know It...

    The story of Wild Colonials is all about taking chances.  Perhaps the first was Angela’s decision to become a singer--or at least to start calling herself a singer. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, she lived in London before moving to Los Angeles.  “Though I’d sung backup for friends’ bands, singing was the last thing I thought I would do,” she relates.  “I’d always wanted to sing but I figured I’d do it when I was 50, sing jazz or something.  But it got overwhelmingly annoying that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do; I was always making other people’s dreams come true and never really expressing myself.  It was easier than doing my own work.

    “Then I came to America and I just said, ‘I’m a singer.’  And the American Dream literally happened.  I mean, I had to work hard, get a club show together and do a lot of stuff, but at the same time over here you hear a lot more yeses than noes.  People say, ‘So you can do that?  Let me see you,’ rather than, ‘Oh, get a life.  Get a real job,’ which is very Scottish.”  Also very Scottish, according to Angela, is the ability to sing.  “I grew up singing,” she says.  “My parents would have these parties on Saturday nights.  They’d play the Beatles and Rolling Stones and Andy Williams, and everyone would sing and dance.  I used to sing so I could stay up late.  I’d do ‘Summertime’ or something and then they'd throw me back in bed.  Singing’s just not a big deal there, so nobody ever  turns ‘round and goes, ‘You know what?  You should sing when you grow up.’”  

    Canadian-born Shark left New York to also gamble on L.A.  Brought up on a diet of the Clash, Lou Reed, the Who and Johnny Cash, he set out to play guitar at age 12.  “I took lessons from this old lady in the back of a music shop,” he says, “but she effectively beat all the enthusiasm I had for the instrument out of me.  I didn’t play it for years; I played drums instead.  When I got into bands I picked up the guitar to flesh out the sound, just taught myself.”  Shark was nonetheless playing percussion and singing when he met Angela and Paul in London. 

    Paul took his chance on violin.  He’d given up the instrument at four to focus on piano.  The son of a trumpeter with the Philadelphia Symphony (his mother) and a traveling evangelist, Paul was born in Glendale, California, but spent much of his life in Europe.  At 12 he began classical piano study at the Paris Conservatory. A devastating bicycle accident in his late teens, however, resulted in extensive memory loss that forced him to learn how to play all over again.  Then, when he and Angela began working together, he returned to the violin out of necessity. “He arrived at my house on his bike one day with

his electronic keyboard and a tiny violin case,” Angela says.  “Lugging this keyboard around to gigs was a nightmare.  I pointed at the violin and said, ‘Why don’t you play that instead?’ He didn’t want to; I had to force him.  It meant a lot of work.” 

    A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Scott also comes from a musical clan.  “We had a family band, just like the Partridge Family,” he says.  “I started out on bongos, then picked up the recorder in about third grade.”  But he later switched to saxophone “because it had a lot of keys on it.  The trumpet only had three valves; it seemed too easy.” 

    While working as a video editor and film and television composer, Scott cast his lot with the bass after hooking up with Angela and Paul in L.A.  As with Paul’s return to the violin, expediency dictated his decision.  “I started out playing piano to fill out the sound, then bass parts on an electronic keyboard.  So I thought, ‘I’m playing all these bass parts; I may as well play bass.’  That's how I ended up playing all the other instruments too--I just do whatever works with the song.  Playing didgeridoo or pennywhistle adds spice to the music.” 

    Says Shark of the band’s collaborative songwriting method:  “Paul will play some 16th century Gypsy folk riff, which I’ll find really exotic, or I’ll start playing some old country riff and someone will say, ‘Oh, what's that?’  Scott will just pick up whatever instrument seems appropriate, Angie will pluck something out of her bag of poems and start singing a melody, and it just goes from there.  Since we all come from different musical backgrounds, we’re not fighting for the same light or the same space.” 

Solo Colonials...

    Angela has been a guest vocalist on many albums, among them those from Morgan Page, Kendrick Lamar, Paul Oakenfold, Joe Henry, The The and Deep Forest.  She was also guest vocalist and co-writer with the French electronica group Télépopmusik.  Their international hit “Breathe” was nominated for Best Dance Song at the 2004 Grammy Awards. Angela released her solo debut album, 2004’s The Things We Do (Manhattan/EMI), produced by Nathan Larson (Shudder To Think).  In promoting her album she toured America opening for The Finn Brothers and R.E.M. Her second album, You Could Start a Fire In An Empty House (Bernadette), was a collection of various collaborations. Her newest album 2016’s The Roxy Sessions (Bernadette).

    Guitarist Shark has been busy scoring films as well as being an in-demand DJ. The most recent release from Shark and Co. was the end title song to the film The Bandit Hound (starring Lou Ferigno). The Shark-scored films include, Frozen Stars (starring Lana Parrilla) and How To Go Out On A Date In Queens (starring Jason Alexander and Kimberly Williams-Paisley).  Shark was also a guest speaker at the 2003 International Houston Film Festival as well as being on the Music in Film panels for Slamdance 2000. As a solo artist contributed the track “High Hopes” to the Pink Floyd tribute album A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd. As a DJ, he remixed the Dinah Washington classic “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” for Verve Records which appeared in the Michael

Douglas/Kirk Douglas film It Runs In The Family. DJ Shark’s history includes spinning for ESPN at its 2004 Superbowl Party in Houston and at events for DreamWorks, Universal Studios, InStyle, Oprah and the Playboy Mansion.

    Violinist/pianist Paul scored the recently released M. Night Shyamalan directed film The Visit.  Paul has scored many films including (among others), the Liev Schreiber directed film Everything Is Illuminated, Oliver Stone-directed film W. and Julien Schnabel-directed film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly He has also been busy writing and recording with violinist Lili Haydn for their side project Tryptich, which also features Eroica Trio cellist Sara Sant' Ambrogio.  Paul has also guested on albums by Devendra Banheart, Remy Zero, and Lisa Marie Presley.

    Multi-instrumentalist Scott recently released an album of Salsa/Sanskrit Mantra music, Jai Salsa, with James Hanrahan.  Scott has also taught high school music and worked as an assistant to composer John Keane on the hit CBS-TV series “C.S.I.” and has scored numerous films and TV shows, including penning the theme for the prime time CBS series “Rescue 911.”

    Reflecting on the disparate musical strains that have converged in Wild Colonials’ singular sound, Angela can only wonder, “How did this band ever come to be?”  Maybe it was pure chance.  The question will surely be irrelevant to both fans and the newly initiated. As Shark says, “Better just to feel the magic than try to figure it out.”

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B   I   O   G   R   A   P   H   Y

“Every so often you trip up or tumble over something which is so very excellent 

it lights up your heart and might just save your soul – the music of 

Wild Colonials is one of those rare somethings.”  - DETOUR

“Hauntingly beautiful ...a gorgeous and intimate blend of 

pop and traditional folk.”  - CMJ

“The striking vocals of Angela McCluskey will make you remember the first time you

heard Miles blow his horn or Billie sing the blues.”  - Hits

“Melding rock, classical, folk, Celtic, and soul elements with wisps of country, rockabilly,

gypsy, jazz, and swing –you name it, they make it work.”  - RayGun

“Over the years you’ve heard a voice, but you may not have known the name of the

singer.  If you’ve ever been to a cool restaurant, a great bar or your favorite cafe,

you’ve heard her voice.  Her name is Angela McCluskey.”  - Michael Stipe 

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