WR828: Apollo Suns

Episode 828 September 16, 2023 00:47:52
WR828: Apollo Suns
Witchpolice Radio
WR828: Apollo Suns

Sep 16 2023 | 00:47:52


Hosted By

Sam Thompson

Show Notes

Guitarist and bandleader Ed Durocher of hard-touring psychedelic jazz rockers Apollo Suns is back on the show!

Settle in for a chat about the upcoming ‘Departures’ LP, album sequencing, consuming content at a slower pace, experiencing the jam band scene in the U.S., and much more!

Need more from Ed and the gang? Check out Apollo Suns' previous appearances on episodes #226 (April 2017), #375 (April 2019), #506 (July 2020), and #645 (Dec. 2021).

This episode brought to you by our pals at Devine Shirt Company!

Huge thanks to everyone who supports the podcast on Patreon! You can help out for as little as a couple bucks a month if you like the show and want to throw some change in the guitar case!

As always, if you like the podcast, please tell a friend or 20! Rate and review on your podcast player of choice! Word of mouth is still the main way Witchpolice Radio reaches new ears. Thanks for listening. 

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Episode Transcript

WITCHPOLICE RADIO: All right, welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm back here with a returning guest... I think this is probably, what, your fourth appearance on the show? Maybe more? You've been on a bit. ED DUROCHER: Probably the fourth, maybe the fifth. WR: We've been doing these at kind of regular intervals, though. And it seems like every time I have you on the show, you have something interesting going on with the band and something to talk about. So it's not like you were just filling time by having you on over and over again. Yeah, it seems to be working out chronologically. ED: Yeah, I definitely keep the band busy, and I'm always looking for, uh what is it? Stasis is like, gotta keep busy. WR: And so I feel like I've asked you to introduce yourself so many times on this show, so I'm just going to do it. You're Ed. You're in Apollo Suns. You've been doing this band for a number of years now, and I guess the biggest news is that you have this new LP coming out, which has been kind of in the works for a while. ED: Yeah. I mean, we started working on it before the pandemic. We had three or four of the songs kind of loosely written. They're still in their very embryonic stages. And then over the pandemic, we wrote a lot of it over Zoom meetings where we would put up an interface and, like, a digital recording kind of system. And then we would program instruments as we are writing. Okay, what do we want to hear here? So a lot of it was written that way or, like, bouncing demos back and forth and just kind of giving each other notes. And then it was about six months of rehearsing it. So it's been the longest pre-production time of any album. And I think it shows. For better or for worse, it's been in the works for a while, so it's very nice to get it out. WR: Yeah, for sure. That's got to be kind of rewarding to see it finally, especially because you're releasing on a vinyl this time, too. That's like another sort of added exciting element to it. ED: Yeah. On vinyl and with a Canadian label. And the vinyl looks so good, the artwork. The artist did such a good job. Samantha Schultz from San Diego. Just like this artist I found off Instagram. Yeah, and it's nice. I really like the idea of holding it like the textile... Like you can literally hold your music. It's nice. WR: It is cool. As someone who obsesses over physical music, it's nice to see too, that especially in this day and age where it's hard to put out vinyl. It's for a lot of bands. I mean, this is the first one you guys have done and you've been a band for a long time now, so it's a big deal, right? ED: Yeah, yeah. I mean, this is our first full length album. We've done three EPS and a couple of digital live albums and whatnot. But yeah, this is our first full-length and it was nice. It's really nice because we took a lot of time to do the track listing and write songs that would go into each other, especially for the vinyl. Side A and Side B are very...you can tell they're sides. And then a couple of the songs have returning melodies, kind of like overtures to keep the continuity of the album. It was really cool. Like writing for an album. WR: Yeah. The programming is important when you're putting out an album that is meant to be listened to finish. Right. I don't know if I've asked you this before, but I know asked other people this question before. How do you sort of plan for that when you know a lot of people aren't going to listen to it that way? I mean, whether you want to sell records over downloads or over individual songs being sold, you know that in this day and age, a lot of people are just going to sort of pick and choose. Does that affect sort of not the goal of it, but kind of the original planning of what you want this whole piece to sound like? ED: Oh, man, honestly, for me, I don't give a shit. We've had this discussion a lot internally in the band, even when we're mixing the album or when we're writing it, at every stage of production and creation of the albums or the songs, where I've just kind of come to the point where I'm like, everyone listens to their song. Most people listen to songs in really not great ways. People are using laptop speakers or their phone speakers and it's like, man, a lot of music is mixed stereo and if you don't have a good set of headphones or cans or a good system, so much magic is lost in that. So whenever I've kind of been like, you know what, let's record it, mix it, put as much thought into the programming of it as we want to. Because ultimately, if we don't like it, that would be a shame to me. WR: It's hard to tell someone else to listen to it too, if you're not into it. Right. You want to be proud of what you're putting out there. ED: Yeah. And I mean, obviously people are going to listen to singles, but I think we're lucky because we have a pretty diverse demographic. So we'll have a lot of the old jazzers and the people that were into prog rock and into Zappa or into Mahavishnu Orchestra and they'll listen to the had we've already kind of been selling them on the road for places we're not returning to with the album tour. So I was like, you know what? We have the vinyl, let's sell it. We're not going to be back in Sacramento, for instance, until next year, so let's just sell, you know, we've been selling it. And then we've had people message the band being like, they're listening to the full album. So we'll have people that will dig into the full album and we'll have people that will listen to our singles and we'll have people that don't listen to us at all and will come to live shows because, like, oh, this is a fun live band, right? So people, I guess it's like every artist, I guess, has to get over the idea of what I think is appropriate way to experience things, or what I think is the most optimal or the most truest or whatever. That statement is different for everyone. So some people are going to listen to the songs and not connect the dots of the continuity of the album, and I think that's a shame. But whatever, they want to do it's, however they want to consume it. But I really hope that people give the album a full listen front to back, because we put a lot of work into it. And I really think I'm so excited because the first song and the last song connects and you can listen to them in a loop, which you kind of did on purpose. There's actually us singing. There's a little bit of vocals on the album in a really weird way that is nontraditional. So I'm really excited that there's a little bit of Easter eggs and there's like a little hidden track in there that you have to wait kind of like for the song to start. And I really hope that people because back in the day, even when you listen to records, you'll put the record on and you'll have to wait until it's over. And sometimes you'll be slow and there's sometimes those little hidden tracks in there, and you're like, oh, man, had I flipped that record over too soon, you... WR: Would have missed it. ED: You wouldn't have gotten that. Yeah, I guess the non-rambly answer is, yes, we do think about these things, but I'm here. I think creating music or any piece of art is a community based activity, but I also have to love it for myself as well and stand and live with it. WR: I imagine I'm not sure if this is the case, but it sounds like you're the type of band that attracts people who are willing to sit down and give something that thorough listen with on good headphones or on a good stereo and just kind of become immersed in it. Because a lot of the types of music that you relate to, I mean, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, for example, no one's hearing one single from that on Spotify. And that's I mean, you have the record, you're sitting down, you're doing the full immersion in it. So I think that you're playing the right kind of music for an LP that's been carefully programmed and carefully put together. ED: Yeah, I think there's a misconception of like, because I'm going for something that can stand up. God, not to sound like old man yells at clouds. Not that I think I am that person, but it's like there's a lot of stuff out there that I don't think will be remembered five minutes from now, much less five years or 50 years, where there's a lot of great stuff coming out today, but there's a lot of shit. Oh my God, the amount of plastic, entertainment based, trendy fad shit is insane. And I'm sure there was back in the day and we just don't hear about it now. But I don't know, I want to create something that hopefully someone will remember 50 years from now. And I think you can do that in having a concise single stuff. But also I don't know, man, I can't remember what my point is, but we're not trying to write these big opus, symphony, crazy long tunes. There's a bunch of short songs on there that you can listen song by song and you'll get the album. But it's also like there is a continuity to them as well, like a flow. WR: I think you're right though, that it does seem like there's more of that throwaway stuff now because it's like the double-edged sword of the internet. ED: Right? WR: I mean, on one hand, everyone can put music out there, which is great because some people are doing amazing things and maybe they don't have access to resources like a studio or any of that stuff. And then the other hand is that everyone can put out music. A lot of people maybe shouldn't be putting out music yet or maybe not at all. I mean, everyone should be doing it if they want to do it, but it clutters things, right. So, I mean, before there might have been ten albums to choose from. Now there's 150 albums to choose from and it makes it harder to find the stuff that is going to last. ED: Yeah. And the thing is, back in the day, you would buy maybe a month, you could afford like five records. WR: Totally. ED: And those were your records for the month. You would listen to those multiple times. You would have the same record. Like Aaron Bartel, our saxophone player, he has still a CD player in his car and he'll have the same CD in his car for like a month. He'll listen to that CD over and over again and you had time. Obviously, our attention spans are shorter because of the commodification of content. We're programmed to just get as much stuff out as possible because that's how you reach or train the algorithm or how you make money is by like because we live in a capitalist consumer culture. Of course you have to continue. But a lot of great stuff that I connect with takes time, and it takes time and multiple views, and you're not going to get all the information. It's like a Mars Volta album. You need to listen to Mars Volta like 20 times to be like, oh, shit. WR: And then you pull it out a year later and listen to it again for the first time in a year. And you discover seven different things per track that you didn't even realize were there before. ED: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. It's kind of like when you binge watch shows now, which is a shame, because what I loved about the episodic or the week by week is you get to talk to your friends or talk about theories or do. This where it's like I've been rewatching the Simpsons and there are so many new nuances that I'm catching now on the 20th watch of stuff. I'm like, oh, my God. There's like, seven layers of social commentary of Reaganomics. And you're like, damn, what the fuck? WR: Because you used to have time to be able to sort of sit with something, right, and fully grasp what it's about and think about it and give it that thought. Which it doesn't happen anymore. Because yeah, if you're binging a show, you're trying to get as many in before you fall asleep rather than just sitting with the one and giving it the necessary time. ED: But what I like now is I find that in conversations with a lot of more people and now having the ability to connect and be playing all over and having as many conversations and meeting all these lovely people, I find that people are now learning again to slow down. And I love that. It's kind of a fuck you to consume, consume. It's like, no, I'm going to slow down and I'm going to take my time with stuff, and I'm not going to consume, consume, consume. I'm going to take my time and envelop myself in this one thing. And I think it's great people are learning how to breathe again. WR: Yeah. When that happens, it is nice to see. For sure. For sure. Your band, I think has kind of always been the case, is that you've been sort of -- pandemic aside -- nonstop touring, like, to the point of ridiculousness. And so you have this new record out. Obviously, that's something that's coming up again, I'm sure, is heading back out in the road to promote this thing. Is it different kind of going out there now that you have this record? Does that change things at all instead of kind of touring on EPs or just a few songs here and there. ED: I don't know. It might, but I think it's just like we're not like an album cycle band. We always have stuff coming out. We always have new merch coming out. And we hit so many markets that by the time we do the loop of the 20 markets of North America and the 20 regions, it's already like, oh, we already have new stuff coming out by the time we circle back. And we're still new to a lot of people. Sure. Obviously, in North America, there's what, almost like 400 million people. So it's like we're always discovering new. But, yeah, I find there is a certain this balance of, like, you don't want to go back to the same place too many times without anything... I find I'm feeling this with Winnipeg is that we've played the Park Theater, we've packed the Park Theater, we've done the West End and we've packed that and now we're doing two nights at the Goodwill. So we're kind of, like, looking for different opportunities of like, we want to set up events moreso, so I feel like after this album run, when we're solidifying those other markets, like those other cities in North America, I kind of want to be like, let's do something cool. Not just a venue show. And venue shows are fun. They're great and they're so much fun. But it's like, let's do more experiential things. And we're kind of like, that's what we're trying to do with this album release. But, man, the city is so hard to work. You get permits and find out who owns what property and oh, my God, the Winnipeg. I don't know. There's some really cool people here. But, man, the city does not want to work with you to do anything cool. But there is stuff, like, obviously, Nuit Blanche, all these festivals. Yeah, there's tons of but, man, if you don't know the person, it's like a thing. WR: You're a good band for having that kind of experiential thing, too, I think, because you already sort of have I mean, not sort of you already have a visual identity just based on sort of the style of album artwork. I mean, this new one included, and the covers of your other EPs and the merch you have. There's this kind of cosmic sort of vibe to it. And instrumental music, too. People are sort of putting whatever story behind it that they're hearing. So it's not as sort of direct in that way as songs with lyrics. So you can create a whole world around it. ED: Yeah. And what also works in our favor is that we are becoming more of like I don't want to use the word. Well, I will. More jammy. So it's like our sets are different every night. We pick different songs. We'll go in all different ways. It's not a plug and play. Like some bands I know where it's the same set, it's a plug and play. They have pedals and triggers for everything. Half them don't even play. They have tracks and shit. Not that I'm going to shit talk anyone like tracks great, but it's like it's a different I know some bands that yeah, some people, they have a program that automates turning on and off their pedals on and off. And I'm like man, what? For me that's crazy because everything is different. Yeah, everything is different night to night. How I'm feeling is different day to day. So my expression or what I want to express is different every day. It could have been my coffee sucked that morning, so now I'm in a shit mood and all my solos are going to sound like I'm in a shit mood or I could have had a really lovely nature walk before the show and now it's going to be a really nice, lovely show. So, yeah, we kind of like every show is a little different, which is great because the community that we have, the demographic and the people that listen to us love that shit, especially in the US. Man, the jam band scene in the US, it's like pretty stereotypical hippie cringe at times. But also, man, those people are supportive and they are in if they love you, they love you. It's super cool. And they're very supportive. Obviously, we can tour too much. We're always learning about what makes sense for our band, what's going to be the most optimal, and how to for both us personally, professionally, mentally, emotionally, all that stuff, and allow us to still put out new music, still record, still tour. But man, there are some bands all over the world that play like 300 days a year and that's like we're a busy band for a Canadian band. But Canadian bands don't tour a lot. WR: Other than just around Canada. ED: Yeah, compared to our Southern friends. Yeah. WR: You said a few minutes ago, I thought was interesting about sort of the tone of your playing based on your day... I mean, your coffee was gross, so you decided to play a little more angrily or a little more edge on it, right. How do you decide I mean, if that's changing night to night and that's not just you, that's everyone in the band, right? I mean, you could have a more aggressive sax part in a song because he's had a shit day. Right? So how do you decide then, at that point, which versions of that sound is going to get into the studio? Because the songs are the same, but they're approached differently every night depending on mood and feel and vibe. Right. So how do you know when the take is the right one for the recorded version that people are going to hear over and over and over again? ED: Man, I don't know. WR: Is that like one of those unanswerable questions? ED: I think it's one of those universally, you'll know, in the minute. WR: Right. ED: You'll know, you can't explain it. It's one of the oldest questions in time, like 42, whatever. But I can tell you, for Departures, it was not like that. We had worked out our parts. Like, Departures is the name of the new album for anyone who doesn't know out there. We had worked out a lot of the music beforehand and there was a lot of improvisation, mainly in the solos. But there's not any long form parts. Everything is pretty we queued some stuff in the studio with hand gestures, or we definitely did that, but it was a lot of composed stuff because we had so much time to do pre-production. So that wasn't really the we took a lot of care in it. But for this, we're already working. Like, we already have, like, ten new songs ready to go. We're already starting to record. We're super excited about that. And I feel like your question, or the process that you outlined with your question is more real to who we are now. Because with Tim Iskierski coming into the band as a drummer, we're jamming more, we're pushing things out. We're know some of the songs from the first, second and third EPs are now being rearranged and some of them are turning into 20 minutes songs that go into two different songs. I think the next album we're going to record pretty much live. I think we're going to invite some people and kind of make it a party in the studio. And we're just going to record live off the floor with enough separation that we can do some editing and add some overdubs and layering. But it's going to be very much like, let's get the juice, like that moment. I think the process that you outlined will be way more like we're just going to take five or six cuts and takes and then just be like, oh, that one, or like this section from this one. Let's stitch them together. And I still want to have a lot of composed parts, but it's going to be way more jammy and not jammy in, like, a 25 minute guitar solo. Way like, jammy is like group improvisational, but extension. We called it making a yes album where we just say yes to things, where we're like, no, let's try things and let's push things out. Because I feel like we're getting way, really the band. Over the last couple of years, we've played like, 150 shows a year and then plus we rehearse three days a week, then we record. So we're like I feel like we haven't played Winnipeg since May of last year of our own original music outside of the Jazz Fest. Dark Side of the Moon. WR: Dark Side of the Moon? Yeah. ED: So we haven't done Winnipeg for over a year and a half of our own music. Oh, wait, no, sorry. We did Jazz Fest last summer of our own music. But what the band is, from that to what it is now, I think people are going to really we already have our fans in Winnipeg, but I think people are going to be like, holy, wow, where is this stuff coming? Yeah, and it's not that it's harder, it's just like I don't know, I feel like we're just communicating just at a higher level and just making it really like yeah. I don't know. I don't know what it is. I just feel like we reach the next level in the latter and it feels good. And I think people are really going to like the hometown crowd that have seen us evolve over and over again are going to enjoy this next level of like, oh, these guys ain't fucking around know? Not that we ever know. WR: Yeah.So with Departures, when is that actually going to be available? I know, like you said you've had selling some on the tour of cities you're not going to come back to anytime soon. But for people in Winnipeg primarily, right. When can they get their hands on that record? ED: We are officially releasing it September 22, which is a Friday. We're doing a listening party at No Fun Club. Like No Fun Club, where we recorded the album on Sunday, September 17. And it's like limited numbers, but we have a bunch of we just invited a lot of the hardcore fans or friends and family people that have been there. And we're actually debuting our collaborative beer with Barnhammer. WR: I saw that today on your social media. Yeah. Very nice. Apollo Suds. Great name. ED: Yeah. So we're going to have some of that there. So people, if they want to come to the listening party, they can message the band. That'll be September 17. We're going to have some of the vinyl there. And then we go on tour. And then we come back at the Goodwill. We got a double header October 19, Thursday, which will be an earlier show, but we're going to do two sets or like one really long set and then an opener. And then Friday, October 20 is like the late-night banger set. It's going to be a long set as well, but it's going to be probably more high energy and just like really... WR: Sorry. Go ahead. ED: And then we go back out on tour. WR Right? I think that's expected at this point with you guys going back on a tour. ED: Who knew? WR: Yeah. ED: Surprised. But my friend are like, oh man, you're actually in town right now. I was like, yes, I want to have friends again. Let's hang out. WR: Right on. So for people who want to hear your music, the good thing about this being a podcast, as you know, is someone could listen the day it comes out, or they could listen a year from now. And by then, who knows what's going on with you guys as far as new music and shows and tours and things like that. What's the best way to keep track of what Apollo Suns is doing online at this point? ED: You could go to apollosuns.ca and you can sign up on our email list. We're always posting new music tour dates on there. Follow us on Instagram or what's it called? Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, you know, all the we're really, really active on Instagram for the most part. We've got a YouTube email list, all the streamers. The only I don't think we're on is Amazon Music, and I just choose to keep our music off of that. Okay. Yeah. But yeah, you can find us anywhere. Just google the band. I think if you Google Apollo Suns, we're like in the top ranking or something. WR: I should hope so. I mean, at this point, you've been around long enough, right? ED: Yeah, I've been doing it long enough. WR: And then for physical releases, obviously, once the album comes out, people can get that, presumably at shows and Bandcamp or website. ED: At shows, Bandcamp website, yeah. If you want to get it and have us see most of the money, shows are the best way. Bandcamp is great. Although, man, shipping stuff is brutal. So expensive. WR: Absolutely brutal. ED: It's brutal. And I don't want to add on an extra $20 to ship something, but we need to make money off the merch. It's one of the ways that it's a majority of where we make money, but it's like, I don't want to charge our fans and it's $20 to ship something, so get it at a show. And if you have to order off Bandcamp, that's super cool. I'm not going to charge you more because I just want everyone to have access to our stuff if they want to support the band. Yeah, that's it. If you ever reach out to the band or message the band, it's me who will answer. I'm very on top of that stuff because I just love connecting with it's always nice, someone's taking the time to, of course, chat with your artistic output, so it's nice.

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