04 August 2011

interview: Apollo

An unexpected EP, a meteor in the Australian sky, four melodic sounds, with a warm maritime spacious sound, of dream and vaporous slowcore, Apollo is a nice discovery of 2011 on which big hopes can be built - listening to their song "Balancing" is like diving to the bottom of the swimming pool and resurfacing again more alive :
(an interview with Alex Hill)

How was Apollo created, were you playing in other bands before?

Dave and I had played in a few different bands growing up but it wasn’t until after university that we played together (in a band called ‘Hope Springs’). That project was interrupted by work/career priorities after about a year when Dave moved to Canberra. Jai was a long time school friend of mine and had not been playing guitar for long, but he advanced really quickly so I invited him to work together. Andy was also a really good friend and keen to be part of something - so, Apollo is a first time band for both of them. Eventually, Dave moved back up to Queensland and we started rehearsing, refining, playing shows, etc.
Many Australian bands are using band names related to the environment and wide spaces, like Sea Life Park, Braving The Seabed, Rebels Astronauts, Seascapes of the Interior, Seaworthy, Tides, Broken Flight, Sunny Disposition, Aviator Lane... why choose Apollo as a band name and how do you relate to the Australian environment, which part does it play in your life and how does it influence your music?

There’s really no deep, profound meaning behind the band name & I wouldn’t say the environment has a huge influence on the lyrical content or sound.

You have just recorded and published an EP, how do you plan to broadcast it? How do you see it?

Lately, our focus has been more on getting the EP completed rather than how we would publicise it. We were fortunate enough to be invited down to SAE Byron Bay to record and had some really talented people working on the project with us. We’re all really happy with the end result. The EP is available at shows and online but I think we’ll wait until we have a full length before we really make a deliberate marketing effort.

As seen from here, the Australian indie scene looks like a parallel universe but split between highly distant cities. Are you part of a local “indie” scene in Brisbane, what’s the importance of the whole Australian indie scene, for your band, which relations have you developed?

Australia is really spread out geographically. You would expect everything to be localised but it seems like most of the east coast bands are fairly well connected and often touring together, etc. All of us are based in Queensland so inevitably we play in Brisbane more than anywhere else. Last week we were fortunate to play our launch show with Castles Sunk Below the Sea and Inside the Whale, two really great Brisbane-based bands.
How do you write songs?

Honestly, it’s different for each song and I prefer it that way. But, for the most part, I start with a concept on guitar/keyboard and take it to Jai, we build it up and take it into a full band situation where we will come up with a loose song structure. Then the vocals are shaped around that & the whole thing is progressively refined.

Do you consider Apollo as a live band mostly? Your songs seem to have a pretty efficient machinery, with each detail having its legitimacy contributing to the final result.

That’s a fair comment. For me, there is a big emphasis on the way the different instrumental parts work together at any given moment - sometimes to the point where the overall impact of the song and its structure is neglected. That’s something I want to change in the future.

Which bands made you want to have a band and write music? I guess Death Cab For Cutie is among them as it is mentioned on your pages.

Each of us have different taste. Dave and I are big Elbow fans, Jai listens to a mix of styles and Andy is into post-rock style bands. Akshay Kalawar (who recorded The Small Step) compared our sound to The Album Leaf.
Lyrics and vocals seem to have a central importance in your songs, a cathartic and very personal dimension which adds depth and to which music contributes, creating the emotional background and atmosphere, defining the climate of the band. Is it the direction which appeared directly, a kind of meeting place where you reach a state of musical connection or communion and are able to push your songwriting forward? How do you experience this, how does it affect your live shows?

Apollo is the first project where I have been solely responsible as the vocalist (lyrics & melodies), so it's fairly new to me. At times, I do wish the content wasn't so self-involved but what I write always seems to be of a personal nature and I guess you just put down what you're feeling at the time.

How has been the reception of the EP so far?

Really good. I mean, it’s early days, but we like the feedback so far. I think part of it is the amazing studio we got to record in and the professionals we were lucky enough to work with. Particularly with our music, I think it helps when every individual note and sound is evident.

Speaking of my review, it shows how I developed a dual appreciation of the EP, having tried to go through it and to experience it as a whole, which finally made me cut it into two halves, for what could be seen as minor elements, what’s your lecture of it as the main actor?

I think you make some really valid points. Sometimes it takes that outside critical eye to get some perspective on what we have written. In a live situation, Evading (the opening track), is the most satisfying for me, but I think the latter two on the record have a bit more to offer as complete songs.

What’s the future and projects of Apollo now?

Write enough material for a full length, keep meeting bands & possibly tour down to Sydney & Melbourne at some point.

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