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SXSW 2008 has ended
Friday, March 14 • 10:30pm - 11:00pm
Apes

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If you’d told Apes that, months after losing original frontman Paul Weil, they were on the cusp of finding a new singer and writing a set list’s worth of new songs within a matter of weeks and an album’s worth shortly after that – and that it would be their most diverse, accomplished material to date – they would have laughed in your naively optimistic face. And yet, the release of their fourth full-length album Ghost Games on Gypsy Eyes Records is proof that not all optimism is misplaced. When Weil left the band in 2005 to start a family after six years, three EPs, three full-length albums, and hundreds of legendary live shows, Apes found themselves scrambling for a replacement. Bassist Erick Jackson and keyboardist Amanda Kleinman met fellow visual artist Breck Brunson at a party in their hometown of Washington, DC, and – on nothing more than a hunch – asked him to come out to drummer Jeff Schmid’s house the very next day to play some music. This despite the fact that they had no idea at the time if Brunson could sing, or had the slightest interest in singing. By the end of that first jam session, Apes knew they had found their man. Always an eclectic group – coming from varied musical backgrounds and tastes ranging from 60’s and 70’s rock, pop and psych to 80’s hardcore to Providence noise to reggae to hip-hop – in Brunson they had found a singer with a similarly wide range of music interests, along with the vocal flexibility and willingness to experiment needed to make it all work. Furthering the mind-meld, Breck shared Apes’ strong conviction that a powerful visual aesthetic, far from being an after-thought to the music, should inspire its creation and support it in its performance. Nearly as refreshing for Apes as the versatility and fresh ideas Brunson brought to the band was the simple fact that he lived in DC. With all four Apes in one place and the infusion of new creative blood, songs came together faster than ever before, and were able to evolve and change freely on the fly. Breck quickly became comfortable enough with his new band-mates to bring different elements to the table: “I wanted to understand the already existing dynamics. Apes are a theme-driven band with songs equivalent to scenes in fictional plays or films. Lyrically, I wanted to add social concerns within the Apes fantastical story telling. The songs we arrived at are a mix of fictional and factual generalizations of our world. There are comments on the disparities of economic hierarchies, one-world leadership, and existence unbound by time or physicality. Now I am no longer ‘the new singer’, but a collaborator of Apes sounds.” With surprising speed, a brand new set of songs was ready for the road, continuing Apes’ trend toward greater melody and rhythm while sacrificing none of their energy and power. And not a moment too soon, as Apes embarked that summer on a six-week tour with Liars that would put the new singer and new material to the test. Both passed with flying colors. By the time they returned home, Brunson, who had never performed live with Apes before – and, in fact, never been on tour at all – had settled firmly into his place at the front of the stage. Upon returning home, songs continued to flow and Apes were quickly ready to record a new album. In the middle of a tour with punk legends The Slits, over a hectic 4-day stay in Brooklyn, Apes spent their afternoons recording at The Brothers Studio and their nights playing shows at various venues around town for the CMJ Music Marathon. The result: Ghost Games, 12 tracks moving effortlessly from the propulsive rhythms and soaring falsetto of “Beat of the Double” to the thunderous psych-sludge of “Green Grease”; from the dizzying, reeling “Info Ghost” and soaring “Speech Reach” to the driving rock of “Which Witch Wuz”. Sharper hooks and greater lyrical depth reflect the new line-up, while the energy, sense of humor and strong visual imagery that have been trademarks of the band since the beginning continue unabated. “Imagine Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions/Secret Life of Plants mixed with a taste of mid 80’s SST roster, like Black Flag and Descendents, and topped with a creamy sauce of hometown DC hardcore of that same era ,like Bad Brains and Void,” suggests bassist Jackson. With more confidence in their playing and songwriting than ever, Apes have crafted their most engaging, assured album to date. Sometimes, it seems, things really do work out for the best.
http://2008.sxsw.com/music/showcases/band/63993.html

Friday March 14, 2008 10:30pm - 11:00pm
Flamingo Cantina 515 E 6th St

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