On the verge of releasing an anticipated debut album, UK quintet The History of Apple Pie Says They've graduated from the Buzz Band Label
When UK noise pop band The History of Apple Pie started not quite two years ago, people in England got a little excited. They got excited about their sweet/noisy/sweet songwriting formula and perplexing name. The Guardian said the quintet was “helping to keep the guitar/bass/drums unit alive,” that is, basically saving rock music.
That might seem like heavy burden for a band to bear, especially a young group that hasn’t even gotten their debut album out. Then again, since forming, The History of Apple Pie have opened for Graham Coxon, lead guitarist of Blur. They also an album, titled Out of View, due out in January and made with the production help of Joshua Hayward, their friend and guitarist for The Horrors. And, while Out of View might not be enough to save rock music all on its own, it definitely isn’t going to do the genre any harm.
The album is a riot of My Bloody Valentine glide guitar and assorted ’90s guitar fuzz being pulled (or balanced) by gooey melodies and soft, baby’s-breath vocals. The chemistry is such that it doesn’t quite sound like The History of Apple Pie formed so recently. That’s because, in a way, they didn’t. Bassist Kelly Owens, drummer James Thomas and guitarist Aslam Ghauri complete the line-up, but vocalist Stephanie Min and guitarist Jerome Watson have been playing together (and been an adorable couple) for some time now.
We caught up with the pair at home and found out a bit more about Out of View and how they’re evading the dangerous “buzz band” stigma.
Do you think you are getting noisier or poppier? Which side is going to win?
Jerome: Hopefully, the poppy side.
Stephanie: Yeah, hopefully the poppy side. I think we really can’t hold back with the noise anymore, because it’s kind of in mine and Jerome’s nature to include the noise. It’s not going to get too heavy. But there was a live period that got really heavy once, so we reined it back in again, to keep it really poppy. It’s a difficult one. We just want to keep the balance. It’s never going to go one way or the other.
There does seem to be this tension between the two sides. The music sort of seesaws between sweetness and just sheer loudness.
Stephanie: I think that’s the perfect way to describe me and Jerome. He grew up listening to noisier stuff than me. The kind of stuff that I listened to growing up was a lot different to his. Mine was poppy, like TLC and loads of female fronted groups, and his was more Britpop.
Jerome: Mine was more guitar poppy stuff that’s got more wild guitar in it, like Blur and stuff like that.
If you guys were going to soundtrack a movie, what kind of movie would it be?
Jerome: I’d rather soundtrack a computer game than a movie, I think.
Stephanie: If you look at what our first single was, I’d say True Romance. Generally, when I’m writing songs I would like it to be able to be the soundtrack to a teen movie or something. But we recently played Max Payne 3 on the XBox and saw that band Health did the soundtrack to it. It was really up our alley in terms of what we’d like to soundtrack in the future.
You’ve has a lot of buzz for a band that started not that long ago. It’s seems that bands just get hyped very quickly. What’s it like to be a band in an atmosphere like that?
Stephanie: It was really cool to begin with. For us it feels like we’ve been together for a lot longer than people think we have. It’s felt like a long time.
Jerome: That’s only because we made a lot of the songs before we decided to do it properly.
Stephanie: We were playing together for a long, long time. The buzz thing is difficult because we realized that, with a lot of bands, it is just a buzz. If you don’t work hard it will just fade away. We recently departed from out managers. Then we started doing a lot of stuff ourselves and finally had the motivation to get the record done and get it out there. I think that’s when we finally stopped considering ourselves a buzz band and we started working really hard.
Jerome: London’s quite a high pressure environment for a band, I think. You’re expected to do a lot in a very short amount of time.
To turn the question around, what’s it like to be a rock fan in London?
Jerome: It’s strange. There’s not a lot of bands that sound like each other. There’s not really much to tie it all together. You’re just going to random shows with random bands.
Stephanie: It’s quite a weird one. It used to be if you had a group of bands that sounded the same, they would form a bit of a scene that was coined by the media. And nowadays, all of our friends, we all sound so different to each other. So, I think the press is finding it hard to group a bunch of people together. It’s quite nice to have a scene sometimes, for all the bands that are working as hard as each other and all friends to get the same amount of recognition. But it’s just been difficult. And the bands that it has happened to, I think they have been coined by the media and just a tiny bit manufactured at the moment.
Jerome: Everyone knows each other. It’s not like all bands are completely independent of each other. It’s just that no one really sounds the same.
Is that good or bad?
Jerome: You get a good variety of different stuff, but there just used to be a lot of club nights around London, like, regular club nights. That’s pretty much gone as well. There used to be clubs that you’d go to and you knew the club and you knew the kind of bands that would be playing. That sort of thing.
Stephanie: Or you’d be asked to play that club and then all of your friends’ bands would be supporting you and you’d be supporting them, but it doesn’t really happen anymore. It’s a lot more effort to try and get a gig together with your friends. And sometimes, because we’re all going in different directions and we’re all playing different kinds of music, it doesn’t always work.
That’s interesting because some writers have gone so far as to say that you are, practically, saving rock music. But do you think rock music needs saving?
Jerome: I don’t know. I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music recently that’s really impressed me. I think people that make electronic music might be onto a thing.
Stephanie: We listen to it to get inspiration for our songs as well. We like really strange noises and stuff. We really like this old band called Add N To (X).
How long did it take to get to your sound?
Jerome: The first couple of songs we wrote just came out that way. I just like heavily distorted guitar. I didn’t really think about doing it a different way. It’s just what I always do.
Stephanie: I think the biggest thing that’s changed is that we’re not recording just on our computer and we actually started recording all our demos and singles somewhere properly. Luckily, we have the ability to use our friends The Horrors’ studio, which is nearby to where we live. The sound just became a bit more polished compared to the roughness of the demos.
Did Joshua Hayward of The Horrors have a role in how you ended up sounding on the record?
Jerome: We do spend a lot of time talking about guitars.
Stephanie: But we don’t take any of his advice because it’s all wrong.
Jerome: I talk to him all the time about guitars, so I guess he’s got something going on but it goes both ways. He didn’t specifically say ‘do this, do that.’
Stephanie: He would kind of manipulate us or send us subliminal messages to make us work. If we were moaning that we couldn’t get something done. I had a massive typical vocal crisis where I’m like “I’m not doing this anymore” and he would say something to me very calmly and all of a sudden and then I’d find that I could do it.
Jerome: He’s good at giving advice but it’s not always good advice.
The History of Apple Pie’s new single is called “Glitch”: