It's been a while since I've brought you guys an interview over one question long (that Sugababes 3.0 thing was one question but it was life-changing! hahah.) and I apologize. However, this interview I'm bringing to you today is pretty damn good - one of the best I've conducted.
It's not very often that you find a newly-formed indie band with a mile-long list of credentials and past bands who just happen to play a ton of instruments. In comes Apollo 101. They're indie and they're a band, they also happen to have everything I just enumerated. Impressed yet?
I'm in no way qualified to talk about their music because rock and bands are not my territory and I must be crazy to rattle about a band like them using my pop knowledge - doesn't make sense.
So I leave it to the band themselves to fill you guys in on everything you need to know. Enjoy!
1. Firstly, why should my readers take notice of you? What sets you apart, what do you do better than other bands in your genre or what can you bring to the table musically?
Chris: I think the fact that we've all been in bands for a while sets us apart from others at the moment who have taken the 'Guitar Hero' attitude, whereby they have bought a cheap guitar/bass/drum set and had a go – a lot of these bands have fallen by the wayside, leaving only the strongest bands about. We’ve poured our heart and soul into what we do, and we enjoy ourselves, but we make sure that the listener, audience or whoever enjoys themselves as well.
Andy: I think that we’re all so passionate about what we do and that will really shine through in our music. We all play more than one instrument as well which means we’ll often jump between guitar, drums, bass and synth – it keeps it exciting and fresh. Every time we play we want to try new things – get new sounds. I think being a three piece it would be easy to sit back and write a song and then leave it static, but we always want the music to sound bigger. I think where we shine brightest is our live sets – some bands look like they want to just play and get off stage as quick as possible but we try and make each song as epic as we can! That’s what being a band is all about for us.
Josh: I have cool glasses. Really cool glasses. Seriously. They're amazing. And we play music, as they have covered fairly comprehensively.
2. For people who don't know who you are, your background and have never heard your songs, how would you describe yourselves as musicians and artists to get them to listen to your music?
Chris: I guess the music sound makes us similar to a college rock band, but lyrically we are far more intense and mature. The lyrics for me are one of the most important aspects as it sets the tone for the whole song. That’s an interesting way of describing it; 'mature college rock' - can there be such a thing?
Andy: Think pop to start with I guess. I mean, everyone has at least one or two pop songs they like. Sure everyone puts themselves into a comfortable niche – rock, rnb, hiphop, metal etc but I guarantee everyone has a pop song they like to dance to. I’d like to describe us as pop-rock-synth or something like that. Maybe that definition needs a bit more work! We’re all multi instrumentalists but at the core of the songs is still a driving melody and mature lyrics. Chris has got a great voice – it carries the songs and mixed with his lyrics the whole thing just works; he’s got a knack for using his acoustic guitar to add depth to the whole mix as well. I add some backing vocals which harmonise well as we’re siblings ‘n’ all, and keep the drums driving the song. I always think the drums need to work with the song and compliment it which I hope comes through in my playing. Josh layers the whole thing with guitar and synth melodies and provides a huge burst of energy to the whole thing! We’ve dabbled in various genres – I mean every band will try different things until they find a sound they’re comfortable with – and we’ve gone with mature lyrics, catchy pop riffs and a melody you can dance to.
Josh: As a musician, I have a short attention span. I regularly forget I’m a guitarist, and find a keyboard left on stage (sometimes the keyboard is mine, sometimes not), which I then use for laughs. I also love the eighties, which appears to be the ‘in’ thing right now.
3. Personally, what kind of music or who do you like to listen to? Do your musical tastes affect the music you yourself make in anyway?
Chris: Well, my musical taste are across the board, I love to chill out to old rhythm and blues like Sam Cook and I also love bands like Feeder and Ash. My main influence would have to be the American music scene - I listen to bands like Jimmy Eat World, Switchfoot and stuff like that a lot. I know Andy likes similar stuff to me but like Josh is very much into Muse and other heavier/rockier outfits. This normally means I can bring in some songs written on an acoustic guitar and Andy and Josh will rip them up and add the necessary elements of rock to make them sound great!
Andy: I’ve always been a huge fan of American rock and pop – they always had such an energy about the songs and that always fascinated me. I think it’s amazing that a three minute song can completely change the mood you’re in – making you up, down, happy, thoughtful or whatever. That’s always been an aspiration of mine - to capture that energy and use it in our songs to make the listener feel a certain way. Goo Goo Dolls, Semisonic, Matchbox 20, All American Rejects, Three Doors Down have all been bands that have provided many happy hours of listening time! As well as this though – being a drummer, I always try and listen to interesting drum beats and see how the parts fit together. I think what we all listen to definitely affects the music we play and the lyrics we write.
Josh: I'm quite into Slagsmalsklubben right now, a Swedish synth-pop band. Otherwise, I tend to listen to a mix of rock and pop, covering the range between Florence And The Machine, Lily Allen, Muse, Joy Division and Rage Against The Machine. There's also a lot of seventies/eighties synth stuff like a-Ha and ABBA in the mix. Lots of ABBA. Whether these influence the music, I'll let you - the listener - decide.
4. If you do, which already established group/artist do you take influences from and which part of that group/artist would you want for yourselves? Why?
Chris: I think everyone takes influences on board and I’m no different! If I could, I would probably take someone like Dan Wilson from Semisonic or John Rzeznik from the Goo Goo Dolls and have their songwriting abilities. They are both incredibly talented musicians!
Andy: I’ve always been a huge fan of Grant Nicholas from Feeder for his passion, and his approach to song writing. The material is always fresh and interesting and I’ve seen him play a few times and he looks like he’s having just as much fun now as the first time I saw him play. Being a drummer I’ve been fortunate enough to see a clinic with Chad Smith from the Chilli Peppers and that was incredible. I think if I could have a couple of days in a room with Chad, Dom Howard (Muse), Phil Collins, Josh Freese (lots of bands!) and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) I’d come out pretty humbled but having learned a whole lot!
Josh: I take a reasonable amount of influence from early Muse, the bombast of the guitars and the pomposity of the piano really shine through in what I do, as well as Bellamy's stage presence from that era. I want Lady Gaga's wardrobe, too, I don't think there's enough shiny stuff in music right now.
5. If you were to break any other music industry/country except your own (the industry of the country you're from) and/or the one you're trying to break right now, which country would you choose and why?
Chris: I would love to break the States - the thought of travelling around out there playing to so many different people in so many different places just sounds amazing! I'll keep my fingers crossed...
Andy: Yeah, America would definitely be up there, as would playing out in Japan, where I think the difference in culture would be so exciting! I hear English bands are really appreciated out there so that would be amazing. Difficult choice, but if someone said to me pick one I’d have to say the old US of A! Playing a few of shows in every state – what a year that would be – plus you’d be close enough to play in South America, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Chile.
6. How long do you think this band will last - is it just a short-term thing or do you plan to release music as Apollo 101 for years? Also, do you want to be signed to a major label sometime later or stay where you are right now? Why?
Andy: I don’t see an end to this. I mean, it’s a great setup – we all get on well, and we all want the same things, and it’s hard to imagine having this much fun with anyone else! Bands are like relationships – you have a few rocky ones and you learn a little each time. I think this one feels like the keeper. Staying as Apollo 101 for years sounds like a great way to spend my days. Looking forward, I would like to attract major label attention – I think the aim is to bring our music to as many people as possible and tour and gig as much as we can. Lots of bands seem to want to write a song, have a hit get some money and then fade away but we want to make this last. I want Apollo 101 to be remembered for being amazing musicians with amazing songs. We’re definitely in it for the long run.
7. Right now and in the near future, what's in store for you guys? Any exclusive info on new/current releases and gigs you can give are greatly appreciated.
Andy: We’re releasing our first single through iTunes in November, and we’re currently organising tours and festivals for next year. 2010 should be the year of Apollo! We want to gig as much as we can and we’ll be hitting all the major cities to get the music out there.
Josh: Yeah, our iTunes launch party is at The Birdcage in Norwich on 15th November. I think that’s the only exclusive info we can give you, and it’s actually on MySpace already, so not that exclusive (sorry).
8. What do you want to be remembered for in the next 10 or 20 years?
Andy: The live shows. When people see a band play live, they want to see a show. That’s how I’d like to be remembered – for the amazing shows that people talk about. People will always have a ‘best gig I’ve seen’ story that they love to share and I’d really like for people to be able to say “I saw this band Apollo 101 play and they were amazing”. I think we aim high, but I know we’ve got the songs, the music, the motivation and the commitment to take us there.
Josh: The sunglasses. Always the sunglasses.
Their debut single One More Chance will be available on iTunes and other major music retailers pretty soon, as Andy said.
Find them online: