February 8, 2007

Get Weird With Apples in Stereo

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Daze: Let me start by thanking you for carving out some time for us in your busy schedule to talk to The Daily Sun. This is Apples in Stereo’s first album in about five years, while all of your other studio albums were released relatively close together. Why the long wait for New Magnetic Wonder?

Eric Allen: A lot of reasons. One is that right when we finished Velocity of Sound, the last album, Robert [Schneider, lead singer] and Hilarie [Sidney], who is our original drummer and just quit in August; they moved to Lexington, KY from Denver. So, our band’s kind of fragmented [chuckles]. So the way it pans out: two of us live in Denver; Robert and Hilarie moved to Lexington; Hilarie quit, so now we have a new drummer … he lives in Dallas, TX. And we’ve got a keyboard player, Bill Doss, who used to be in the band The Olivia Tremor Control … and he lives in Athens, GA.

Daze: The new album has 24 tracks. How and why did you guys decide to include so much?

Eric Allen: Well one thing is that we had so many songs; there’s, like, four really good songs we finished that were cut from the album just because the album is so damn long at that point. But then, also, Robert had all of these link-tracks — cool pieces of music he’d worked on that we don’t necessary work in an album — they’re not really like a little song.
Daze: Like little interludes?

Eric Allen: Yeah, exactly. And so that was one thing that as we were working on the album, Robert had the idea, he’s like, ‘Let’s make the whole album just sort of flow like a string of music instead of just the song ends, pause for a couple seconds, next song starts. So the link-tracks are perfect for that.

Daze: How did his, “Non-Pythagorean Music Scale,” come into play for this album?

Eric Allen: That’s something that I think almost as an aside that he was working on, and the link-tracks were sort of his experiment with that scale, some of the link-tracks are.

Daze: How has Robert’s Appearance on The Colbert Report, the Decemberists’ Guitar showdown, affected the band’s notoriety?

Eric Allen: I think a lot of people have heard about us now that never would before. Everybody watches The Colbert Report, so it’s a very cool thing to have happen.

Daze: How do you think indie music fits into the mainstream now with you guys and the Decemberists being featured on Colbert, the Shins being on SNL. Do you think that there might be some sort of resurgence of interest in “good” music?

Eric Allen: Maybe its just evidence that people are having to go out and find good stuff even if major labels aren’t putting it out and even if its not getting played on FM Radio. I hope there’s a resurgence of good music. Truth be told, there’s always been good music. It’s just a matter of whether you can actually find it easily, or if you live in, like, a little town in Oklahoma, if you go to the record store there, will you actually see it? Or are you just going to get the new album by Pink or something?

Daze: In that same vein, how have Myspace and YouTube or blogs affected you guys?

Eric Allen: I’m not sure how it’s affected us. It’s probably turned on like people who were maybe too young to hear us the first time around, or five years ago they weren’t listening to that kind of music. But I think as far as each band, it’s incredibly important. I just love it. Even for me it’s like I still go out and get tons of records, but if someone sends me a link to Myspace, and it’s a band that I’ve never heard and that doesn’t have anything out, you listen to a couple songs and it’s fantastic. It’s really cool to access something that easily.

Daze: I guess we’ll see how that unfolds with this new album in the promotions of it through Myspace.

Eric Allen: I think just the fact that we have this whole Myspace presence is great because someone that watches The Colbert Report is like, ‘Oh I’ll check out the Apples in Stereo,” and they can go and hear a bunch of songs.

Daze: Has your change to a new record label affected anything in specific?

Eric Allen: I think what its affected is the kind of publicity that we’re getting that we never got before. YepRoc has been incredible and our albums not even out yet. Just the amount of press we’re getting and the amount of interest and then, of course, at the same time, there’s the Elijah Wood aspect. YepRoc kind of runs the nuts and bolts of putting out the records as the label and Elijah’s doing PR which helps tremendously just to have a guy that’s on David Letterman talking about the Apples in Stereo. That’s never happened before.

Daze: With Bill [Doss, of the Olivia Tremor Control] in tow for the tour, in what capacity did any other Elephant 6’ers contribute to this album, or was it completely Apples exclusive?

Eric Allen: That’s one thing that’s different about this album was that we had a lot of different friends playing on various tracks. John Fernandes from the Olivia Tremor Control and Will Hart from the Olivia Tremor Control play on a couple songs. Jeff Mangum plays drums on a song of Hilarie’s; Jeff’s from Neutral Milk Hotel. And in that way, that’s kind of more like Fun Trick Noisemaker. Fun Trick Noisemaker had a lot of kind of whoever’s hanging out at the studio is playing on a song, or just singing backing vocals or something like that so with Velocity it was pretty much just four people, straight up, that’s it.

Daze: The Shins’ James Mercer just cited Fun Trick Noisemaker as one of the five pivotal albums for his musical direction in Spin. What albums would you cite influence the Apples in Stereo sound, especially for New Magnetic Wonder?

Eric Allen: For New Magnetic Wonder, I’d say as far as different albums we probably aren’t as represented on other records, I’d say stuff like ELO, the Feelies definitely, even R.E.M. But as far as just overall the Apples, I would say obviously Beatles stuff, Pink Floyd The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Led Zeppelin, just all that kind of stuff. And also stuff like My Bloody Valentine that James Mercer cited as well. All that kind of stuff … the Ramones.

Daze: What are you guys listening to lately? What do you like?

Eric Allen: I listen to kind of like, old-timey music. Like really, really old country music and blues. As far as new stuff, the Shins. I always like the Shins.