London's Apologies, I Have None may be unsigned, but the folk-punk duo have been generating quite a bit of buzz with their new EP Two Sticks + Six Strings. They will be touring the UK later this summer, but in the meantime you can check out this interview between the band and Punknews.org interviewer Zack Shapiro.
For the unaffiliated, who is Apologies, I Have None?
Dan Bond [guitar, drums]: Apologies, I Have None is Dan Bond and Josh McKenzie, I mostly play guitar and Josh mostly drums but we swap over for some songs. We started doing this sometime in 2006 after talking for ages about the possibility of starting a band - its something we both wanted to do for a long time but never really focused on as a serious possibility. It got serious pretty quickly once we got going and now we basically work as much as we need to to fund touring. Playing as many shows as possible was our only real plan on getting bigger considering neither of us like actually pushing our band onto people directly beyond shouting at them from behind a mic or giving away free CDs.
Why did you decide to give your band that name?
Dan: We've actually had a few names for our band, all of which were terrible and didn't really seem to fit with what we were doing and made us sound like an alt-metal or prog-rock band. Josh got me into Grade, a Canadian hardcore band who disbanded in 2002 and their record Under The Radar is pretty much one of our favourites and so we took the name from a line in one of their songs. It seemed to fit better with what we were doing and I thought it sounded cool. Way better than previous names we tried to work under. Naming our band is a nightmare that I am glad is behind us now.
Your first album Two Sticks & Six Strings came out recently. Talk a little bit about the album, writing and recording.
Dan: We originally planned to do a full length after doing our first CD, done, but we wrote and then dropped a lot of songs around that time and so we decided to do another EP with the songs that had survived. I think between writing done and finishing Two Sticks & Six Strings we sort of figured out a lot about what was possible with two people in the band. I think our song writing improved and we worked out what sounded better in terms of the guitar sound we were using. We really just took the time to settle into what we wanted to sound like and try to step everything up a little. We wanted to sound more like we do live on this record - we play electric all the time and so we made everything more banging. Writing songs and recording takes us a long time which has its ups and downs - I like every song we have recorded, even now, and I am pretty happy with how they all sound but progress can be slow and mentally demanding. We home recorded both records (except the drums on Two Sticks & Six Strings) which meant that we didn't have anyone elseâs input on what we were doing at any time. Again, this had its benefits and drawbacks. Sometimes you need someone to say, "Letâs move on," or "That sounds good, we don't need to do that again." We'll do things differently on our next release but I think that what we have done so far has been as good as we could do it on our own. My girlfriend Ema did the artwork for it and we got it duplicated ourselves - a lot of months were taken up between starting it and finishing it getting the guitar tracks done, gang vocals and percussion. I didn't have a bed for a week because all the mattresses in the house were used to build a makeshift vocal booth and I am 100% sure that our neighbours are happy that we are moving out this month.
Josh McKenzie [drums, guitar]: We don't really write any songs together. Although we work little things out and put the final pieces of a song in place together, probably about 90% of each song is written individually. I like this way of doing stuff as I think lyrically the songs are stronger for it. The downside I guess though is that without the slight pressure and reassurance you get from someone else, our turnaround of new songs seems to be real slow (I only managed to complete one new song for the EP, which in two years is very, very bad indeed). I'm happy with every song on the EP though, so I think the process suits us well.
Recording was a nightmare. I hated pretty much every stage of it. We did it how we did it because we didn't have the means to do it any other way and we were both getting pretty anxious just to record the songs and put them out. I was actually a mixture of gutted and relieved when we sent it away to be replicated. Gutted because I was far from happy with how it sounded, but relieved because I no longer had a huge pain in my ass, and that I could return to spending less than 10 hours a day staring into a computer screen. If we could go back I would definitely have put off recording until we could have saved enough money to do it professionally, however I think we learnt some valuable lessons that we may not have otherwise so I guess it wasn't all bad.
Whatâs your favorite song off of Two Sticks & Six Strings
Dan: Picking a favourite is hard, they all took a long time to put together and wrap up that I can justify every line, every fill and every chord in all those songs with the hours that we went over them. Personally, "100 Club" is fun to sing and easy to play and I hardly ever make mistakes on it live which makes playing it slightly less nerve-wracking. "Rearranging The Dust" took a long time to write and finish off and I think it recorded well. I can't pick one, sorry.
Josh: "Bent Strings" is both my least favourite and favourite all at once. I think it probably turned out the worst on the EP out of any of the songs which I'm unhappy about, but I love playing it live and lyrically it practically wrote itself, which is useful considering I usually struggle to write anything I'm happy with. "Mabley Green" is probably my favourite song to play live. It's real simple and I don't sing much on it so I get to really smack the shit out of the drums which is fun.
Your sound has been compared to Against Me! How do you feel about that comparison?
Dan: I think every band, when they start out, tries to emulate bands they like. It makes sense and I don't think that's a shameful or negative thing. Josh and I both have pretty diverse tastes in music and I think our influences run deeper than the obvious comparisons, but I can see why the comparison is made. The first record we did was before we even had much decent gear and we struggled to find a good guitar sound so we decided to use an acoustic guitar for some songs because it sounded better - I think that acoustic guitar and drums combination probably re-enforced some similarities, but I always said that I love the energy that Against Me! puts out and the more energetic bands and shows that I listen to make me the most excited. Lyrically, I think there's a massive difference, but musically, I can see the comparisons and I'm fine with that.
Josh: It's cool. People will always compare one band to another and Against Me! are fucking great so I'm happy with it. I don't think either of us see the comparison as much as many people do but I guess that will always be the case, having written the songs ourselves. I remember some guy once said we sounded like The Clash, which I think is a pretty big stretch, but I guess it shows that people can pick up on even the smallest details and extrapolate them.
We were both listening to a lot of Against Me! around the time we started the band, and like Dan said I think it probably shows more in the done than on Two Sticks & Six Strings but I think some of the influence can still be seen on the new record. We actually did a cover of an Against Me! song real early on, it was the first thing I think we ever recorded and was sort of just a tester for recordings sake, you can probably find it floating around on the Internet somewhere if you look hard.
Any idea for future touring plans? Planning on making it to the States anytime soon?
Dan: We're always planning tours but we are always struggling with making enough money to pay the rent aside from touring. It's a compromise that I hate having to make - I'd rather be constantly touring and writing and focusing completely on playing and making music than spending what feels like most of my time working to make ends meet and fitting the band around that. It's a problem for most bands I guess. Touring in the UK is, from what I can gather, a lot different to the states - you could hit up every major city and scene in the UK in a solid month of touring pretty much as opposed to the half-year tours that are possible across the States. There's only so many times you can play the same venues to the same people before you start feeling stagnant, so our sights are starting to set on touring outside of the UK as well as touring here. I think itâs essential for what we are doing to keep pushing ourselves and play to more people as much as we can, whether thats at home or abroad. We applied for the Fest this year, but wether we get on that or not, we'll make it over soon hopefully. If anyone knows anywhere we should play, anyone we should contact or anyone who wants to help us out: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan: There are a literally a few handfuls of people who keep this going in the UK, who put the effort in to get good bands together and put on good shows and I guess I want to thank them for what they are doing for everyone and extra thanks to those who have put us on in the past. Especially in the early days, we didn't know anyone and we weren't a good band by any account, but people put us on and gave us a chance and we are definitely grateful for that. We both play in another band with our friends PJ and Gaby http://www.myspace.com/pjandgaby have a listen to them if you can, they are awesome. We play bass and drums in their band and it's a lot of fun. You should also check out Serf Combat, BANGERS and Calvinball. That's it really. Thanks for reading this.
Josh: Look for Sam Russo on the Internet. He is your new best mate / favourite songwriter - Guaranteed!