Interview: APES talk their new album, their upcoming tour with San Cisco, and more
The Melbourne band's debut album Stranger Than Strangers is out now.
Earning nods from BBC Radio 1 and triple j with their previous work, APES are a Melbourne-based four-piece who are quickly becoming one of Australia's most exciting alt-rock groups. Their festival-ready sound is almost comparable to some sort of Arctic Monkeys x Violent Soho cross, with easily-going vocals colliding with roaring guitar riffs or more mellow, indie-leaning sounds, depending on which song you're listening to on their long-awaited debut album. Titled Stranger Than Strangers, their debut is quite a varied release, toying with a large array of alt-rock-leaning sounds across the album's short-yet-sweet 11 tracks. To celebrate the album and their currently-underway tour (which includes support slots for San Cisco and Thelma Plum), we caught up with the Ben Dowd - the group's lead - to talk about the record, what to expect from their upcoming tour, and writing music with some of the minds behind Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Florence and the Machine, and more.
Hey guys! Congrats on the release of the album. How does it feel to finally get it out there? How long in the making was this release, from the initial ideas through to release?
It feels like a big weight off the shoulders most of all. But lot’s of mixed emotions have risen over the past few days, which I kind of expected. We spent the better part of four years writing for this record, we probably wrote around 30-40 songs along the way…. but for us, it was about putting together a collective of songs that really sat well together and represented who we are now. Even though it took longer than initially expected. Glad we took a little extra time to get it to where it is now.
There are some big names behind-the-scenes on Stranger Than Strangers, including Michael Belsar, Brian Lucey (Arctic Monkeys/The Black Keys/The Shins), and Mark Rankin (Adele/QOTSA/Florence + The Machine). What was it like to work with such large people behind-the-scenes? What did they bring to the release that no-one else could’ve?
It was great. Michael really pushed to explore a different side to APES. He was kind of the glue that kept it all together and on track throughout the process. It was very important in the end, especially working with some many different and unique people. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what each person brings because they do so many different things. We just wanted to work with people who had worked on records by our favourite artists.
You mention that the album brought out something different in you all musically, did you guys feel there was a need to do something a little differently for the album that you haven’t done before? Why?
We felt we had to start writing to sound like us…… as musicians and as people. By that, I mean not writing songs to sound like artists we liked and looked upon when starting the band. When we first came together, we were writing songs to sound like certain acts that we like. With this record we just wrote for the sake of writing and Stranger Than Strangers is the result of that.
There’s been quite a resurgence in the triple J / Australian-rock sound of late, especially due to the rise of artists like Violent Soho. How do you guys keep things different from the rest? Is there even a need to be unique?
We don’t consciously write to keep ourselves sounding different from anyone, I think if you focus on your own personality and try to get that to come out in your songwriting - that should make you unique in its own way. No two people are the same, are they
There’s quite a few varied sounds on the record, from some of the softer, indie-leaning tracks to the heavier tracks like Pull The Trigger. Does the different sounds across the album due to changing moods or environments when recording? Or something else?
I feel it came from the process. Writing something over the span of four years, you change a lot as people. A song like Pull The Trigger I wrote when I was 21, a pretty fragile time in my life where I felt like I was being led down the wrong paths and not staying true to myself. Personalities change and because we try to put that into our music, the songs changed in a result.
There’s some big shows for you guys coming up, including your Victorian support run with San Cisco and Thelma Plum. What do you guys bring in your live show? What can we expect?
I feel like we bring a very versatile live show. It has moments of high intensity, some low key stuff and some other parts that float in the middle somewhere. We really want to focus on bringing a visual element to it, but that is still in the works. We just love playing live and have a lot of fun doing it.
Finally, I know you guys have only just dropped an album – but what’s next on the cards? Taking a little break, or doing some touring, or diving back into the studio to smash out #2? What’s the plan?
Me and James have been writing together a bit… So I guess that is a sign of more music soon. We really enjoy playing live and travelling so I think we will be trying to play as much as possible haha. I think a break would be a bit of a cop-out considering the whole four years thing. Look forward to seeing you all at a show soon!
Remaining Tour Dates:
Fri 9 June | Vic Album Launch @ Yah Yahs, Collingwood (with Hollow Everdaze and Neon Tetra)
Sat 10 June | Village Green, Mulgrave (supporting San Cisco with Thelma Plum)
Sun 11 June | Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights (supporting San Cisco with Thelma Plum)
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