Local watch: APES Q&A
Written by Alana Mazurke
Each week I will be focusing on a local Melbourne band, because in all honesty there are just TOO many gigs to go to every week and recently becoming a Melbournian myself, I’ve focused my time in scouting what I consider to be some real talents that deserve to be noticed.
First band is local four piece APES. After only one listen of the ridiculously good track ‘Seven’ I wanted to see this band live – so I did just that at the ah, charming? Yah Yah’s last Saturday night. The show kicked off in front of a decent sized crowd with lead singer Ben Dowd showcasing his hard hitting voice from the beginning and throughout the entirety of the set. There were easily some new singles to look out for which will be released in the near future and the reception from the crowd proved my adulation toward upcoming success from this band. I took some time to talk to Ben and Sam about future plans and what the band has on offer for the rest of the year. It’s kind of refreshing talking to a band who is just starting out, although their sound most certainly does not coincide with that. I would happily suggest checking out this band next time they’re playing. The epically clever film clip is situated below, be sure to watch!
I feel I must shed light to the fact that previously APES were known as The Boo Hoo Hoo’s. Why the change and why to the name APES?
Well kind of. We had line-up changes, went on hiatus for awhile, Sam our bass player ‘discovered’ himself. So we thought how about we give birth to something new. We changed the music direction of the band a lot, probably because we started listening to different music, took different influences and therefore wrote different music, it’s all part of maturing I guess! And then we started APES.
The band originates from Ballarat. When did you move to Melbourne and how has the move affected the band both in the positive and negative sense?
James still lives up there and Sam and I have thought about heading back…The positive of Melbourne is you spend less time travelling and there’s better food [laughs] but Melbourne can also easily be a distraction. Creatively I think Ballarat is an amazing place; I guess that’s why there is so much awesome shit coming from there. Karova is a great venue aswell, it’s really inspiring; get down there if you ever find yourself panning for gold.
The popular track SEVEN is your most recent track to be released to the public and it possibly the most hard hitting, exciting tracks I’ve heard from a local band since moving here myself. How do you feel the response has been since you’ve released the single?
Why thank you! It’s been great. Triple J have been really kind to us and showed us a heap of support with the release. The response to Seven has got us all excited about the release of the E.P. coming out in June. It’s still in the same vein as ‘SEVEN’ but hopefully shows a bit more of what we’ve been writing in the past 6 months or so; it’s different in it’s own right I guess, the shows have been great where we have played the new songs so hopefully you guys like it!
You’ve recently announced a tour with Brisbane band Jakarta Criers; had you previously played with them before and if not how did the tour unfold?
Haha nah, not up until the last fortnight, it has been awesome though, such rad dudes! We were both the winners of the Big Day Out competition for our states through out Triple J unearthed. We just got back from Queensland with them over the past weekend. We had a hectic two weeks it was awesome, we stayed on their couches, drank their booze, hung out with their mates – it was great! They’re very good hosts. And, our shows in Melbourne have been complimented well by their presence, we hope we returned the favor in QLD.
Who would you consider to be APES most influential Australian band or artist to date? If you could pick one band to play with this year, who would it be?
Hmm we all have different influences. We never really seem to agree on anything except for Tame Impala; would love to play with those guys too. Yet, there’s a handful of bands which we’ve always listened to though – The Saints, The Vines, The Drones and a lot of newer stuff which is awesome like DZ Deathrays and Dune Rats..to many to go on!
Since making the move to Melbourne, what have been the highlights thus far? Do you have a favourite venue to play here in Melbourne?
We played a night at The Rochester earlier in the year for Black Night Crash. Wicked times to be had, always a good crowd down that way. I suggest you go check it out. We also absolutely loved playing Yah Yah’s with the guys from Jakarta Criers, the sound was great and afterwards the venue was rockin’ the night resulted in a filthy hangover but it was one of the highlights of the tour for sure.
Your sound has been described as one for “unfolding arms”. In today’s live music scene; predominately Melbourne’s, have you noticed as a band or even as a patron a lack of desirability from others to not be immobilized and actually be involved at a gig? What’s it like as a band seeing your music have an effect on people at a show?
[Laughs] yeah it’s awesome. You really feed off it in a live environment. But a lot of the time we see people in the crowd drinking from their shoes when they play, not sure if its a testament to us as a solid band or not…It only ever happens in Victoria! But other than that, people actually moving is great. We played the ‘SEVEN’ single launch at Cherry Bar and the front of the place just smelt like a mix of body odour, beer and cigarette breath hah and the people were awesome that night – both girls and boys had a decent go at it at the front.
APES were most recently involved in playing at the Myrniong Music Festival which plays a huge role in advocating local bands and musicians. How was it for you being apart on that type of scale when compared to Big Day Out which you deservingly won the opportunity to play this year?
I love being apart of things like Myrniong. Everyone really comes together to put on the best show possible. It’s so good watching it grow year after year and seeing all the new music it attracts. It’s great getting to experience both sides of the scale. Big Day Out was unreal; really hope to play more things on that scale, yet at the same time give us a roaring house party and we’ll have an absolute ball there as well.
You’ve begun recording on your debut EP with producer Malcom Besley who had worked with you on the track SEVEN. How did this partnership transpire and when can fans expect a release?
It was a dark and rainy night on Johnston St, The Boo Hoo Hoo’s had just finished up for the night, A shaggy haired traveller who had claimed to be the mixer approached the boys……Love at first sight [laughs]…Something along those lines anyway.
We’ve been buds for years now, we toured with Mal’s old band The Ravenous a couple year sago on an east coaster and we work really well together. Malcolm gets the best results out of us and the EP we’ve been recording should be good and ready for a June release!
There are quite a few genres listed to describe APES – ‘heavy pop’ being the most veracious. Not taking anything away from your music; pop music is undoubtedly the largest staple in the industry to date. The fact you can mix blues rock with a catchy hook is more than admirable on your behalf. I know its up to media and press to label your sound, but which genre do you feel best represents APES as a band; would you be content in stating ‘heavy pop’ as your genre to someone who was to ask?
Yeah I guess something like ‘Heavy Pop’ almost sticks! We like to refer to ourselves as ‘Pub Rock & Roll’ to be a bit tongue and cheek at times haha. Maybe we can be ‘heavy pop pub rock & roll’ but generally we don’t really tunnel into a specific genre, it’s good to keep it simple and straight up and not be labelled different genres every time a song is released…I guess it does generally fall onto the media and press for that one.
Triple J Unearthed: