Before COVID-19 made haircuts a nonessential activity, Angela “Angie” Yeagher and her husband Johnny were often found together at her salon Angie’s Records & Hair attached to Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern. She could be found cutting hair or dying it fantastical colors—including my own aqua locks last summer—while Johnny would play the role of in-house DJ, spinning from the record store’s collection, and offering a pair of helpful hands in between.
Of course, we’re all familiar with how this story goes: COVID came and the proverbial record came to a skipping, scratching, screeching halt.
“Our lives have been completely turned upside down since the beginning of the pandemic,” Angie says. “I made the difficult decision to stop doing hair until further notice due to safety risks. We’ve been trying to survive and keep the shop open solely on record sales, selling t-shirts and merchandise.”
Much like their neighbors at Reggie’s, who hosted a successful livestreaming fundraiser last week, the Yeaghers have had to get creative figuring out how to stay afloat. On the bright side, creativity isn’t a problem, as the couple also front their own punk-rock outfit Zodiac Panthers, featuring Johnny (lead vocals, guitar), Angie (drums, percussion, backing vocals), and Nate Erney on bass. “[Music] is the only thing keeping us financially and mentally afloat,” Angie notes, “and each day I hope our ship doesn’t sink.”
To that end, Zodiac Panthers released a new single “666 Feet Away From My Love” on Monday, July 27.
“We are lucky to have a home studio where we can work on songs and record them in the comfort of our own home without having to be around other people,” Angie offers. “That makes it so much easier. Music is the only thing keeping us from going completely insane right now. When this pandemic started I was suffering from extreme anxiety and working on songs has been very cathartic.”
encore has more from Angie about “666 Feet Away From My Love” and what’s to come from Zodiac Panthers.
encore (e): I guess it’s pretty obvious what inspired the tune but tell us more about what you had in mind when writing it; walk us through the headspace and/or outlook you had at the time.
Angie Yeagher (AY): As for “666 Feet Away From My Love,” Johnny was sitting in the studio coming up with guitar riffs and the title just popped in my head. He laughed at first and thought it was a bit of a tongue twister but I convinced him to go with it and he is super glad that he did. Such a catchy tune and the lyrics are about how we have been feeling during this time. The song starts out with “I feel like I could be dying, or is it messing with my brain”—that is a reference to the extreme anxiety I have been feeling but from the outside it’s wrapped in a pretty little package that others can’t see. Much like the song itself, it’s a super upbeat, fun song with a bit of a dark message if you really pay attention. Similar to the rollercoaster of emotions we have been feeling during this time.
e: Is this going to be a part of a larger project you think?
AY: We have been writing and recording other songs as well. We considered putting them out as an album but decided instead to take a different approach and release them all as singles. We plan to release one single at the beginning of each month. Hopefully when life goes back to normal and we have more income coming in we can release them all together on a vinyl record and call it “Doomsday Love Songs.”
e: Thoughts about Reggie’s?
AY: The Reggie’s livestream/fundraiser went very well, better than the guys could have even hoped for. They were overwhelmed by the kindness of the community and extremely grateful. It shows how much Reggie’s means to the music community. It means so much to us as well, not only that they are our good friends and literally next-door neighbors but I owe so much to them. My own business would have never gotten started without them. So many great memories in that place. Reggie’s isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If I envision a post-apocalyptic world, Reggie’s is still standing.
e: Are their plans to celebrate/perform this release live (virtually or otherwise)?
AY: That is definitely in the works. We just have to figure out the logistics. We considered doing an upcoming Reggie’s livestream but it may be hard for us to “social distance” so our other thought is to do it in Angie’s Records & Hair. Maybe even outside the shop and have people view from their cars. So many ideas, just have to decide the best way to do it. We are really itching to play live again, even if it’s to a virtual audience.
e: What else can we note about Zodiac Panthers and music to come?
AY: We hope to get as many people as possible to listen, download and share our new tune. It will also be available in a couple of weeks on Spotify, iTunes and all other streaming sites. And follow us on our social media sites (Facebook/Instagram) to see what other pandemic punk rock songs we will be unleashing in the months ahead.