The History of Apple Pie – BOTW 15

The History Of Apple Pie : Science For The Young
By: Sacha Shaikh

This week’s BOTW comes from London four-piece The History of Apple Pie. A band that has literally only just finalised their full line up. All songs and demos were originally written and recorded by boy girl duo Stephanie Min and Jerome Watson. Joining them now are; Kelly Owens on backing vocals and bass and James Thomas on drums.

What attracted me to THOAP was their sound and influences that are apparent in the music. Taking me back to those heady teenage years with their early to mid-nineties Americana Lo-Fi Shoegaze sound and the obvious UK Brit Pop influences. The harmonic vocals with guitar driven pop melodies conjure up visions of sunnier days when anything was possible. So how did it all come about for a band that hasn’t even played a single show but already seem to have attracted a lot of attention.

Jerome loved Stephanie’s voice so much he kept bugging her until she agreed to collaborate on one song – Out of View. It was an exciting time for the pair and they both got carried away and started writing and recording more! It was never Stephanie’s intention make music. The excitement and the prospect of contributing to something you love is like a drug I guess. Like so many vices once you’re hooked you are locked in for life.

The writing and recording process is all done on a laptop at the moment, as is the way with many bands these days. However it’s the layering and double tracking that makes such a beautiful sound. Jerome adds several layers of guitars and Stephanie, who doesn’t play any instruments, comes up with lots of cool and unusual ideas when it comes to writing melodies and the tones. On further reflection it’s a great idea. I think having someone who knows music but not how to play just come in and add their ideas gives it a totally new slant and dimension. Jerome does admit that Stephanie has to reign him in at times to avoid his urges to layer over ridiculous drums and loads of noise over everything. I think it’s a perfect balance.

Stephanie’s vocals very much remind me of Kim Deal from The Pixies and there is a definite U.S influence in their music. Last year Jerome was at SXSW and caught No Age, Crystal Stilts and Wavves. The No Age set was so inspiring that as soon as Jerome returned home he gorged on a whole host of contemporary U.S bands. They are both of course into Pavement, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Elliot Smith and The Strokes, the usual response to most bands these days. However Stephanie’s influences include Galaxie 500 and Luna, both great guitar pop with really interesting (often hear-drenching) vocal melodies. She also sites one of my all time favorite bands Smashing Pumpkins as another influence along with UK bands like The La’s, St. Christopher and Aztec Camera. Growing up Stephanie was into everything from Salt n Pepper, TLC, Deftones, Longpigs to The Beatles and Elvis. Kelly and James both grew up listening to Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Talking Heads, Fugazi and a shared passion for Sonic Youth.

A debt of gratitude should be aimed at their families. Jerome’s dad was the manager of Reckless Records and he would bring home records, a lot; their house had an extremely large collection! An Aladdin’s cave of records and comics something that anyone in their teens would love a good rummage through. Stephanie’s older sister, a true Brit Pop fan, used to play “Nancy Boy” by Placebo and a Different Class by Pulp and from this she discovered Gish and realized and how amazing and essential guitars could be. Stephanie fell in love with “On Fire” by Galaxie 500 as well. She named one of their songs “Tug” after one her favourite Dean Wareham songs “Tugboat”, and there are also some lyrical references to her favourite song by Luna called “Chinatown”.

All this hype and praise and not even one show chalked up yet. This is new Rock and Roll it seems. Stephanie retorts, “Finding members to play live has been a real challenge. Unnecessarily difficult – but luckily, the whole process has brought the right people together. We can’t wait until we are ready to start playing shows”.

Asked how they found Kelly and James. Stephanie declares, “We actually wanted to try and find people we didn’t already know. There’s a pretty big pool of musicians in London that we know, but they’re pretty much all busy with their own bands, so we just advertised publicly. It’s taken longer than usual, but the current members of the band are all really close now. We’ve become a really tight-knit group in such a short period of time. I think we’ve bonded on the basis that we really feel something for the songs that we’ve written. James (drums) contacted us earlier this year when we first advertised for members – but it was still a bit too early to start recruiting. Every other advert we put out there in the last few months though, he ended up replying to. We then went to meet him and it turned out he loved the recordings we had done so much that he already learnt the drum parts off by heart… He was in”. They met Kelly through The Depreciation Guild one day in Rough Trade where she works. She and Steph clicked immediately, and then maybe two days later Steph encouraged her to try out for the backing vocals in the band. It turned out Kelly and Steph’s voices were very similar and they harmonised really well. They then encouraged her to try and learn bass and she is already performing incredibly well for someone who couldn’t play before.

So what’s next for the band other than getting the live shows ready? They have a fair few up coming DJ slots around the place. For Stephanie it seems the whole journey has been really exhilarating. Going from not even thinking about being involved in music to really enjoying every single minute and really trying to make it work. Her dream scenario would be to get on the road visit some great locations to play live and of course release an album. Jerome has been in bands before but never been through the whole process from starting a band to releasing an album. So that’s his modus operandi. It’s quite straight forward and simple and probably what all bands starting out will tell you but with THOAP it’s a question of when not if. You could in all honestly be looking at one of the most exciting bands of next year.

The History of Apple Pie - http://www.myspace.com/thehistoryofapplepie