Mixing traditional rock instruments (electric guitars, bass guitar and drums) with traditional folk instruments (mandolin and fiddle) The Apache Relay have developed their own brand of American folk music infused with rock. Their first gig - back when the band had a more bluegrass sound - was above a small coffeeshop near to the college the band attended. Since then The Apache Relay have gone on to perform at Ryman Auditorium, tour the UK, and record at Fairfax Studio previously Sound City. We were very fortunate to be granted a Q&A session with The Apache Relay. Because The Apache Relay are from Nashville I had to ask; What is it like being a non-country band in the country capital of the world? Is there an alternative music scene?
The music scene in Nashville is very eclectic and mutually supportive. There’s a massive garage rock scene here as well as more conventional rock, old school country and a lot of pop.. some hip hop even. Because of that I think it’s been fairly easy to be a non-country band. The city certainly has become mostly known for the country music but there’s a lot more going on.
When you first toured the UK did you find any striking differences between the American and UK music scenes?
Honestly, not especially. I don’t know if we were there quite long enough though. I did notice the crowds were very attentive and quiet between songs. We’re used to rowdy bar crowds…it was refreshing.
From ‘rowdy bar crowds’ to recording your album, how does your live performance compare to your album?
We’ve always felt that the two could be different things and that forcing one to sound like the other never seemed to work for us. Songs tend to naturally evolve on the road and we like allowing them to do so rather than fight it. For instance, with this record we found the songs became a bit more aggressive and rock n’ roll than they are presented on the album.
You say your songs evolve on the road, but I also read that you went into the studio open minded with 30/40 songs to choose from, using the studio as a creative space. When time is money could you afford to take your time or did you feel like you were on the clock?
You know we were really fortunate that we weren’t pressed for time. We were allowed to explore and experiment until we really felt like we had exhausted all avenues. At times it was draining but I’m thankful we were given the time; especially since most of the record ended up being written in the studio. Those 30/40 songs that we came in with were either scrapped or rewritten at FairFax.
I have to ask what Fairfax was like, does it still have some of the magic Sound City was famous for?
Initially we were all a little nervous to be recording in a studio of that historic caliber. You’d become distracted in the middle of takes thinking “this is exactly where Grohl’s drum set was for Nirvana's Nevermind” or “this is where Tom Petty tracked vocals on Refugee”. It’s crazy how that live room just has a sound to it. You can hear it in the other records done there…especially on drums. It’s wild.
I enjoyed your music video 'Katie Queen of Tennessee'. Did you have much creative control over this video?
The concept was really all our director, Hayley Young, She came to us with the idea and we dug it. It was comforting knowing we were in good hands. Music video shoots can be awkward for musicians and she was really good with us. Those dancers did all the heavy lifting, we just had to play in the background.
Do you think it’s important for bands to have a music video?
It’s undeniable with the way technology and media is evolving that music videos have become pretty crucial for bands. I think the mistake that most young bands make is assuming you have to have a big budget to have a pro video. The truth is there are some amazing music vids out there that have been made with an iphone (“My Baby’s Arms” by Kurt Vile for example). Concepts are really the key.
Why are you musicians?
Cause we sucked at sports.