The Apse interview
This is a Lofiles interview with Bobby of Apse
Lofiles: The first thing that strikes me about this band (besides the awesome music) is the method of working, meaning using your homes, and consumer recording equipment. This site deals mainly with the lofi side of music, bedroom music, the challenge of making great music without big facilities and shiny layers of sound. Can you tell us about the recording process
Bobby: Everything we started out doing, live at least was recorded by 3 room microphones into 4 track. I then went through hours of live/ improv sessions on the 4 track tapes, digitized them and cut them up into little sections. I then had members from the band rerecord the sections and I arranged and overdubbed on top of them. That was one process in making the record. The other came from demos slowly-turned-to-final-songs…
Lofiles: How long ago did you quit your day jobs – if you had one ?
Bobby: We all still have to work. Those of us that don’t work are collecting. We’re not living off of our music.
Lofiles: Did you move to New England to get away from the distractions of the big city? I believe you have moved from Brooklyn? Hasn’t Brooklyn become the Mecca of indie music these days?
Bobby: Two members of the band lived in Brooklyn. Those members are no longer in the band and neither of them were part of the move to cape cod. Brooklyn is cool but I don’t care to live there. At least not right now. If I did live there I wouldn’t want my band to be lumped-in as a ‘brooklyn band’. We didn’t move to the cape to get away from anything. We moved there because we had the opportunity to rent a whole two-building house for cheap. The isolation just came with the territory.
Lofiles: Can you describe a typical day in the country for you guys? Are you really getting up in the morning/afternoon/ night (check one – lol) and getting together, rehearsing, writing or working on music?
Bobby: My typical day on the cape during the making of the album would be to wake up early in the morning, eat a healthy breakfast, go to the gym, come home, shower, go to the garage and get everything turned on and booted up while coffee brewed next door. Then I’d sit down to work on music until about 10 or 11 pm which usually led to me listening to the songs as a whole, sometimes on various substances, sometimes sober. I would also often spend a 12 or 14 hour day working and then decompress by having drinks (etc) and listening to other band’s records, mostly older records, enjoying and learning from them. After the initial stages we almost never worked all together. Jed worked with Brandon on tracking the drums and from his own home writing and recording his own parts. I worked on my own where Michael and I lived. Michael worked there too. Myself, Jed and Michael did work together in 2′s and 3′s at times, but mostly we all worked independently of one another when it came to actually writing and recording and mixing. But we talked a lot. Lots of talking. Endless talking about what should and shouldn’t be…endless revision, editing, scratching our heads over the details, etc.
Lofiles: Name few albums/ bands you have heard and loved lately?
Bobby: I love the new Bear in heaven record. I love the new Fuck buttons record. I like the new Broadcast EP. I like the Pictureplane album ‘Dark Rift’. During the making of the album I listened to older stuff a lot which I tend to start doing in the winter months and after the first of the year…not sure why but it’s always a habit of mine in the winter months. Altering my mind and escaping into older worlds through other band’s records…During the album I listened to a lot of ‘The Idiot’ by Iggy Pop. ‘Their satanic majesties request’ by the Stones. ‘Berlin’ by Lou Reed. ‘Sgt Pepper’s was also something I rediscovered deeply while making the record…which had a lot of influence on the last track.
Lofiles: Who were your musical idols or big influences while growing up?
Bobby: As a teenager I loved Smashing Pumpkins, NIN, Radiohead, Beck, Chokebore, Slint, etc.
Lofiles: When did you decide you want to become a professional musician?
Bobby: Who said I’m a professional?
Lofiles: What’s the story with the limited vinyl edition of ‘Eras’? I have heard the best tracks on that one, Ark, Salt of the earth…Was it too dark to release to a wider audience? This is a record Mogwai would have wished they did. I mean those tribal grooves, awesome treated guitars and vocals, just incredible.
Bobby: Thank you. Bill Bailey, the man behind Equation records approached us about doing a limited vinyl release. 2 years later we had what we thought was a very strong record on our hands. Only 425 copies were made and it was released 1.5 years after we finished it. It is the link between ‘Spirit’ and ‘Climb Up’. If someone wanted to put it out Digital/CD etc we’d do it but we’ll never let it be released on vinyl again. The unique vinyl object itself is the whole purpose of the limited release. We loved working with Bill and while he’s all sold out of the record we will have copies of it for sale on our two week European tour in December…
Lofiles: Was there a decision( before you guys started working on it) of making ‘Climb up’ a more accessible album? More communicative than the previous ones?
Lofiles: Do you get anxious to go out on the road and leave the peaceful village life behind, or you get restless on the road and want to get back to your quite country life?
Bobby: I’d say both. I love being on the road. At times it can fuck with you but for the most part it’s wonderful. To travel, play music for people in different places. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to and continue to be able to experience that.
Lofiles: Can you describe more about the individual input of each one of you guys creatively and personally?
Bobby: As far as the input – we all made this album. I do have a major say in things. Direction, songwriting, mixing, etc. But there’s no way I could’ve made the record on my own. Everyone, especially Jed and Michael brought their own ideas and opinions and musical abilities to the table and that’s why I love being in a band rather than working by myself.
Lofiles: I love the fact Climb up doesn’t sound pretty, shiny or too clean. Even the “pretty songs” sound dark and grainy. I mean, even the clean guitars sound saturated. Did you intend as a band to make the album sound like that – I mean you all worked separately at your homes. Were the clean tracks canned or maybe there weren’t any clean ones?
Bobby: The record used to be a lot dirtier. I love some of the working versions of the songs…rough and lo fi and a lot different. But the amount of polish on the album for me is just right. Any cleaner and I would have issues with it. Who knows, we may go cleaner or dirtier – or both at the same time if you will, for our next record.
Lofiles: You’ve got to see this: I am sitting in my neighborhood coffee shop on a Saturday morning, and they’re playing here this horrible song by an Israeli singer (someone I am always afraid that if he died they’d constantly play his awful music…). Anyway, I am sitting with my laptop and headphones listening to ‘Climb Up’ – awesome, guys – you know the feeling of bumping into a great album once in a blue moon.
Bobby: I do and it’s flattering and nice to hear that you like the record as much as you do. Like any serious musicians it means a lot to all of us when someone truly and deeply appreciates our music.
Lofiles: You know, a few songs on this album remind me of a U2 production in the good old days (with Eno and Lanois on the controls – I mean they succeeded in making it with a multimillion dollar production team and facility, something you did at home… that just goes to show what’s really important) like ‘The Whip’, that sounds to me like a fiercer version of songs like ‘The Fly’.
Bobby: Thank you. I’m not really sure what to say here. We worked really hard with our little home studio setups to make things sound the way we wanted them to…
Lofiles: Are the samples, loops, weird keys and sounds in the background, mainly Jed`s contribution? Does he add his treatments after the base of the song is there?
Bobby: Jed does have treatments and such that he has done but for the most part Jed adds a lot of skilled parts playing actual instruments. He gave me a lot of straight takes of him doing piano, bass, guitar, trombone and other instruments. He knows music and is a very capable musician. He did add parts that are treated and effected and experimental though. But the bulk of those fucked up sounds come from myself and Michael. We did a lot of work with tapes and filters and cheap microphones and lots of effects and sort of half-broken organs, practice amps and guitar pedals, etc etc.
Lofiles: The choice of video is perfect for the sound and mood of the album. Did you have it in mind before meeting Lance Drake or it is his idea?
Bobby: It is very much his idea but I was talking with Lance for months and months about what we wanted – and didn’t want. So in a way it is a bit collaborative but it is his direction and idea of a performance video overall. He and his talented director of photography Andrew J. Whittaker shot the video and Lance edited it. There’s also another much different video he’s working on the editing of for ‘All Mine’ right now as well.
Lofiles: …We will try to bring you to Israel to play a gig if you guys are into it; You`ll be surprised how hardcore it can get, I mean, people think Israel is full of little houses with red rooftops and sheep. Tel Aviv is one of the most vibrant cities you`ll have ever been to.
Bobby: I’d love to come to Israel. We will be touring overseas in the spring of 2010..