By Amanda Penlington
Noisy guitars and sweet vocals are a winning combination and The History of Apple Pie are one of our favourite exponents of this kind of music. The band have been building up a reputation with their two lovely singles ‘You’re So Cool’ and ‘Mallory’ and a hectic live schedule.
GoldFlakePaint caught up with them on the Bristol night of their UK tour with The Drums to talk about life as a new band, their songwriting process, and their appreciation of songs about dogging. No, really.
Hello, thanks for meting up with us today. Where do we start with the history of The History of Apple Pie?
Stephanie: Is it over a year now?
Jerome: We’ve only been playing together since January (2011).
Stephanie: Me and Jerome started writing some songs together in our bedroom for fun. And then it got picked up on the internet so we started to look for musicians to play. We went on Gumtree and that’s how we met James our drummer. And then he introduced us to Aslam, they’ve been in bands before together, and Kelly we met through a friend of a friend.
What’s your approach to songwriting? Is it chords, lyrics, rhythms? Where do you start?
Stephanie: It’s a mixture isn’t it? So early on we used to start with Jerome writing most of the instrumental stuff and then I’d add all the vocals.
Jerome: Lyrics are the last thing aren’t they?
Stephanie: Yeah, lyrics are the last thing. I sort of hum a lot of stuff over the top first but then we’ve started writing in different ways. I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head that I just have to hum out to him, he tries to interpret that with the instruments and stuff…
Jerome: … through the medium of the electric guitar.
You’ve been doing so many shows since January 2011 when we saw you at one of your first gigs (in support of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at King’s College) – does the gigging inform the writing?
Stephanie: I think it’s two separate things. When we’re gigging and stuff we hardly have any time.
Jerome: Yeah, all the writing’s done at home or in rehearsal.
So, regular band rehearsal – try something and see what comes out of it?
Stephanie: Yeah. And then a lot of it is still done in the back of the bedroom ‘cause that’s where we did a lot of the first early demos and I think we’re quite comfortable doing it there. We’ve tried loads of different things but you end up getting writer’s block if you get out of your comfort zone.
Who are your favourite artists?
Stephanie: I really like Elastica but I also like a lot of pop music like TLC and loads of heavier stuff like Deftones. Jerome?
Jerome: I like lots of things, I like loud guitars, crushing drums.
And do you have a favourite song that you always come back to?
Jerome: ‘Coffee and TV’ by Blur is my all time favourite song. Everything’s good about it. There’s nothing wrong with it at any point. It’s six and a half minutes and I can always listen to it. That’s my favourite anyway.
Kelly: I like ‘Naïve Melody’ by Talking Heads. It’s just a really good pop song and he mixes up everything all in one. It’s got the right elements. Timeless.
Aslam: ‘The Ketchup Song’ by Las Ketchup has stood the test of time. I never get bored of that song.
Stephanie: The first song that comes to mind is ‘Car Song’ by Elastica. I really like all their vocal melodies but that one stands out the most to me.
Jerome: Plus it’s about having sex in cars. (Laughter).
We met dogging to ‘Car Song’ by Elastica.
I’m putting that in.
Tell us a bit about life on the road. You’ve been on this tour with The Drums and Cloud Control.
Stephanie: It’s been big O2 venues and stuff so it’s been really good. We played some on the NME tour earlier this year so it’s been nice coming back to, like Cambridge Junction, and just playing it as a better band – we’ve progressed. It’s been fun. I think everyone’s really tired from travelling all the time.
Jerome: We’ve seen a lot of the car.
Stephanie: We’ve seen a lot of the car.
Kelly: But we’ve got the two best ones coming up in the next two days: Shepherd’s Bush and Manchester Ritz.
Aslam: Three best ones – today, then Shepherd’s Bush and Manchester.
Kelly: Oh yeah.
Stephanie: Tonight’s gonna be really good. We’re very excited tonight. We are.
How have the audiences been so far? Responding well to your material?
Aslam: Yeah, they’ve been so good.
Stephanie: Yeah, on the first night it was great for us because the crowd responded really well and it was just nice to kick off the tour like that. Every night they’ve been getting better but it’s nice yeah. The feedback’s been really great on the tour. It’s one of the first tours we’ve done where we’ve gotten so much more online feedback, and just people coming up to us and saying to us that they really, really like it, which is always nice to hear.
When can we expect an album from you?
Stephanie: Hopefully next year. We’ve got no details on that. We really wanna release one.
But you’re not working to any deadlines at the moment?
Stephanie: Songwriting-wise we’re putting together as much as possible. We’re just pretty keen to do one really.
As well as looking ahead it’s the time of year when us music writers look back and think about our albums of the year – is there anything that’s been released in 2011 that you really rate?
Kelly: John Maus.
Jerome: Last year was so uninspiring that I think this year looks pretty good by comparison.
Kelly: What about The Horrors?
Stephanie: Oh yeah, ‘Skying’.
And The Horrors remixed one of your tracks didn’t they?
Stephanie: They remixed our single (‘Mallory’) – Tom did. That’s really interesting – I thought it sounded like ‘The Lion King’ or something.
Jerome: ‘The Lion King’!?
Stephanie: It was just a really different remix. I thought it would come out like, I dunno…
Jerome: …pure noise…
Stephanie: Pure noise or some kind of dubsteppy thing but it came out really cool. (Jokes) It came out a bit Disney. Yeah it’s good. He seemed to pick out loads of stuff that only if you’re a really, really good musician you’d be able to hear in the song and he kept those parts in the remix. It was great.
As you know GoldFlakePaint is a Bristol based blog – have you been here before?
Jerome: Lots of us have played here but not together.
James: I think I’ve played every venue except this one: The Croft, The Fleece, The Thekla, The Louisiana.
Kelly: The Thekla’s the one I’ve heard of it seems like a lot of new bands play there.
Yeah, it’s the kind of venue I’d expect you to play.
Jerome: Full steam ahead.
A lot of bands have to stay on in their day jobs to pay their way. Do you all still manage to have other jobs due to your touring commitments?
Kelly: I just quit mine.
Stephanie: Me, Kelly and Aslam used to all work full-time.
Jerome: It’s starting to get difficult.
Kelly: For this tour I couldn’t really get the time off work and it was cool, you know a good job working in a record store but still, you can’t always get the holidays.
Stephanie: I don’t go on holidays anyway so I just use my holiday up for tour.
Kelly: All of my holidays were the tour – they’re just getting more and more. Which is good because that’s what we want to do.
Stephanie: I can’t quit the day job. I’m trying to keep it on the downlow.
Jerome: Steph’s got a proper, proper job.
Stephanie: It’s a proper one.
Do they know what you do?
Stephanie: Yeah, they know what I do – I just don’t want to give them the impression that I’m gonna quit. It’s events production. I like it. I used to do music management stuff with Jerome’s old band.
Jerome: I sort of work at The Horrors’ studio but I don’t really get paid for it and they’re never there so I just sit at the computer.
Stephanie: And use it.
So, back to tonight – any expectations of what a Bristol crowd is gonna be like?
Aslam: I’m expecting it to be like an episode of ‘Skins’: drugged up and having sex.
Stephanie: They’re fourteen Aslam!
Jerome: Do we get to hear Portishead if we’re in Bristol?
Yeah, I’m sure. Final question then – if you could collaborate with any of your musical heroes (dead or alive) who would you choose?
Jerome: Oh I know – Delia Derbyshire from the Radiophonic Workshop, the BBC girl, she was cool. She had a good ear for a weird sound. Yeah, bring her back I say.
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