May 2014 “Band of the Month” – THE APACHE RELAY
Our “Band of the Month” feature began in January 2012, featuring Savannah-based trio CUSSES in a short interview that gave readers a glimpse of what to expect from one of Georgia’s hardest working bands. We then landed an interview with Of Monsters and Men right before they broke and would then go on to include acts like Ponderosa, Cheap Girls, Swear and Shake, Jonny Fritz, Torres, The Districts, and more over the next two years.
So as we move forward into 2014, our entire staff would like to extend thanks to the artists who have taken the time to speak with us and the readers who have been so dedicated to supporting the site.
THE APACHE RELAY is a band that needs no introduction in many circles; The Nashville-based folk-pop group have been tirelessly working for the last five years, an effort that has produced three full-length albums, a tour with Mumford & Sons, and attention from Rolling Stone, NPR, and many more. Michael Ford Jr. and company recently released a self-titled record, one he refers to as a “fresh start for the band”. The Apache Relay is eleven tracks of beautiful folk-pop tunes ranging from joyful love songs to introspective proclamations.
As of now, the band has a busy Summer tour schedule lined up that includes an appearance at Shaky Knees Music Festival and a run up the East Coast, before hopping around to a number of festivals. You can stream the full album at Paste Magazine, though we’d suggest dropping the money to own a copy of this one – you’ll want to add it to your personal collection. We had the pleasure of speaking with Ford about the lengthy process of making the album, turning “five”, and the band’s home town of Nashville.
THE APACHE RELAY
First, congrats on the wonderful new record! I understand that you guys have spent the last three years working and re-working the 11 songs that made the final cut. That’s got to be an exhilarating feeling – to finally share it with the world. What’s life been like since the release?
Michael Ford Jr. (all answers): Things have been exciting thus far….we’ve gotten a good amount of positive feedback on the album, which is so rewarding after all the work we put in to it.
The Apache Relay turns five this year, right? That’s quite an impressive progression to go from Belmont to having three records out, touring with Mumford & Sons, and being featured on some of the biggest festival lineups in the country. If you can pinpoint one moment where you realized, “Woah, gears are starting to turn very quickly for us”, what would it be?
That is correct, half a decade old! I think if I had to pick one moment, it’d have to be when played our first arena gig in Toronto opening for Mumford. That was a pretty surreal ……
What’s the story behind the band name? I searched around for a while but didn’t come up with anything..
It’s a reference from a 90’s Judd Appotow film called, “Heavyweights”.
What prompted you all to head to California to record The Apache Relay instead of sticking close to home – and the dozens of amazing studios around the city?
We wanted to get out of Nashville because we all felt like we needed to separate ourselves from the comforts/distractions that would inherently come along with making a record in our hometown. We were looking for a place that felt totally foreign, and were excited to see how it would influence the way the songs came together in the studio.
What was the thinking behind making this release self-titled?
We debated over different titles for a while, but at the end of the day we feel this release is a fresh start for the band…taking the self-titled route seemed most fitting and representative of that notion.
How long did you all spend in California working on the record? I suppose it was probably nice for the process to have some aspects of a vacation rather than driving to a studio down the road..Or was it a fairly quick process that didn’t leave much time to relax?
We worked on the record for three months on/off between late October of 2012 and May of 2013. Honestly, whenever we were in LA, working on the album is literally all we did. We usually worked 8-10hr days, Monday-Saturday. For the most part, we basically only saw the house we rented, the interstate, and the studio….so unfortunately we didn’t get a ton of leisure time, but every now and then we’d make the trip out to Venice Beach or go to the Rose Bowl Flea.
I saw you guys will be making the drive down to Atlanta for the upcoming Shaky Knees Music Festival this upcoming weekend. It’s an impressive lineup all around – anyone particular you’re excited to see?
Absolutely! To name a few…..Spoon, The National, Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst, Trampled by Turtles, and all of our fellow Nashvillian bands that are making the trip down there to play.
What have your experiences playing in Georgia been like so far? Any particular aspects you enjoyed or disliked?
Our past experiences playing in Georgia have been really positive. The stand out nights for me have taken place at The Georgia Theatre in Athens….fantastic venue, great staff, and an overall wonderful town to visit.
Getting back to the new record, “Katie Queen of Tennessee” was the first track you released to the public. It’s a beautiful folk ballad that sets an intriguing tone for the rest of the record. “Terrible Feeling” and “Don’t Leave Me Now” are my personal top contenders right now, but I imagine that will change. Did you find that there was a track that you came to identify much strong with once the record was complete and you could sit back and hear it as a whole?
I think initially, that track for me was “Terrible Feeling”. After we heard all the final mixes, I remembering being taken back at how that one had really came together once I had chance to step away from the songs and listen to the album with fresh ears. I have a special place in my heart for “Forest For The Trees” as well. We spent forever working on/tracking these tunes, but that song in particular I wrote at my house in Nashville in an afternoon and we literally tracked it in 3hrs one night. Both the writing and the recording of that track weren’t over thought in any way and I think its rawness provides a nice foil to the rest of the album.
I’ve loved a lot of the “younger” bands coming out of Nashville the past few years – Diarrhea Planet, Torres, Kopecky Family Band etc.. Who else should I check out?
Musicians have been relocating to Nashville for decades now, but I rarely hear about artists who leave the city to start anew elsewhere. Is it something you all have ever considered as a band or are your roots firmly planted in the Music City?
We’ve all lived here now for about a decade, so I think its safe to say our roots are firmly planted here in Music City.
Lastly, next time I visit Nashville, what are a few of your favorite spots that you recommend visiting?
Well……for coffee, I’d say definitely go to Portland Brew, their ice coffee is the bomb. My favorite restaurants at the moment are The Silly Goose, Josephine, and City House. Lastly, no trip to Nashville is complete without picking up some new jams….check out one of our lovely local record shops when you’re here (Grimey’s, The Groove, Fond Object).