Apollo Run: Runnin’ Shit at Nor’easter Festival 2011

At this year’s Nor’easter Festival, I had the opportunity to bro out with all three of the Apollo Run boys after their killer set.  The trio brought the noise to the Nor’easter stage, tearing through tracks with so much energy that it could have sent my lazy ass up the Nor’easter pro climbing wall with the greatest of ease.  Not only did John, Jeff and Graham bring an arena-style presence to the venue, which was a feat in itself, but it turns out that offstage, they’re three down-to-earth guys with spirit and charm to spare.

When we sat down to chat, I first addressed their tabloid-inspired tune, “Charlie Sheen’s Got Tiger Blood Man,” which aside from being catchy as hell, has become a small-scale YouTube hit.  While they have opted not to play the song at live shows for the time being, the band is thankful for the press they’ve garnered from the video.  At first glance, the puckish song may seem like it doesn’t fit with the band’s more serious orchestral-rock sound.  However, John says, “the song’s melody and structure is similar to our other songs,” which helps Apollo Run to gain listeners who may have never even found them in the first place.  Charlie Sheen, bringing the people together as always.

A highlight of seeing Apollo Run live is watching lead singer John McGrew hit defiant high note after high note. I was hoping that John had some sort of OCD ritual to help him blast through his vocals (like Jim James of My Morning Jacket, who pictures himself riding in a rocketship with Roy Orbison), but his methodology is much less complex. “Breathing,” he says, “that’s all it is.  If you’re not breathing, you’re not going to hit the high notes.” I guess we believe that it’s that easy, John. But I mean, if I find out he gargles snake venom to perfect his vocals, I won’t be all that surprised.

While McGrew’s heavenly voice may evoke comparisons to icons like Jeff Buckley, Apollo Run doesn’t actively look to their heroes for songwriting inspiration.  “It’s the book you’re reading, or the day that you’ve had, not the music you’re listening to you,” they profess. They take inspiration from all aspects of life, including the geek-chic book & television series, Game of Thrones, just in case you didn’t already love these guys. While Graham did give a specific shout-out to Jesus (hey, he’s not a bad guy), Apollo Run primarily lets their experiences, rather than individuals, guide their songwriting process.

The band recently released their 2nd EP, Here Be Dragons Vol. 2, and they’ll continue to tour to promote those tracks.  Come November, they’ll be hitting the studio to cap off the Here Be Dragons trilogy with a full-length LP.  And what can you expect from HBD 3? And I quote, verbatim: “More dragons, love, heartbreak, turmoil, battles, sex, drugs, rock & roll. Awesome bass work, epic drumming, twists and turns.” Apollo Run, you had me at “more dragons.”

While we anxiously wait for Vol. 3 to drop, you can anticipate the band to tour up and down the eastern seaboard in the meantime. Check out their show line-up at the following link: http://www.apollorun.com/shows/.



Posted on by Caroline in Nor'easter Festival 2011

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