For those of you who are not aware, there are instrumental jazz bands…and they rock. Apollo Suns is one of these modern treasures. Specifically, they write “psychedelic jazz” pieces, with a few dashes of rock ‘n’ roll tossed in. Yes, they are good. The band released their debut EP, Each Day a Different Sun in 2017 and the following year they won the “Instrumental Artist of the Year” at the 2018 Western Canadian Music Awards. Each Day a Different Sun reached number 15 on Earshot!, which is a national chart.
Perhaps the question should be what is next for this young group? Are they touring? Are they making more music? Are they going to add a singer? Luckily, I was able to chat with Apollo Suns and learn a little more about this groovy band, their plans and their new album, Dawn Offerings.
• So, let’s just get right into it. You have a new album coming out on April 26th, which is exciting. Tell me a little about your new album. Is there anything you want people to know about Dawn Offerings?
Yes, we are very excited about the album and project. It’s been a lot of work from the beginning with concepts, writing, arranging, rewriting…all the creative stuff and then you have to record it!
It’s kind of a new chapter for the band. It’s a bigger band since the last album, Each Day a Different Sun, and it shows…I think. We are more mature composers, more detail and patience was put into the songs and creating dynamics and really being precise and intentional. We are very proud of it as a whole.
• Dawn Offerings drops at the end of April, and you’re going on a tour through the first part of the summer. How excited are you guys to put another album out there and then take it on the road?
Well we love touring. It’s lots of fun, you meet some amazing people and get to see old friends and fans. Now that we have been touring heavily for the last couple of years we have the opportunities to play some festivals across Canada. More announcements will be coming soon!
• What are your favorite songs on Dawn Offerings? Is there any you are particularly eager to play on stage?
“Dark Night” is a powerhouse for me. It’s just so groovy. “Passing By” has this mojo to it though. Like everyone was listening and responding so well. Lots of vibes in those tunes.
• When I listened to Dawn Offerings it sounded a lot jazzier, compared to your first EP, Each Day a Different Sun, which had a more pronounced progressive rock element. What brought about this change?
Different members and more writing partners. I, Ed Durocher, wrote most of the first EP over the span of 2 years and I was heavily influenced by 70’s prog greats…..so many to name. Anatol is really jazzy and that mixes well with us. It was a natural progression for sure. I think the new members just pushed us to have the confidence to write like that and they are all jazz students…..I gotta tell them to keep it greasy at times for sure. I dig the new direction…every album will be a constant evolution but still having a continuity to it.
It will always be Apollo Suns at the heart.
• I’ve always thought of albums as an art form. There’s a certain flow to a well-crafted album. Good ones tell a story and great ones change people’s perspective on music. What are your thoughts about musicians releasing singles, as opposed to albums?
I think they both serve different purposes. I love albums and all the thought and care that goes into the track listing, the flow, the art and all that stuff BUT as a modern musician/manager/business owner you have to give your audience what they want and will respond to.
I personally love albums and will always release them with Apollo Suns but we also work singles into our marketing plans as well as that is what can help get you traction on some platforms. At the end of the day it’s about connecting with your people. Some of our fans dig albums so we release them and do everything we can to make it successful and we will continue to release singles as well.
• Let’s talk a little about the band. There are nine of you in Apollo Suns, what drove you to come together and form an instrumental band?
There are actually 10 of us! It’s a lot…..well we started as a quartet in 2016 and I really just enjoyed making instrumental music. It made sense and the crowd response from the beginning has been insanely positive. I don’t know if any one thing drove us here but it seemed like the stars were moving in the right direction and it just made it work.
We just started adding horns and percussion and now we are 10. We tour as a 7 piece so that makes it a little easier on the band.
• Where does the inspiration come for your music? Do you have a set process or is it more organic?
Every song is a little different. Songs like “Study in Red”, “Dark Night” and “Lake Country” (unreleased) came out of jams that someone had a riff or a couple of chords and it just clicked and we went from there.
Songs like “Lesson in Sharing”, “Bird To Sing For” and “Passing By” were labours of love and we worked on them for a while and really let them sit and realize themselves.
As for inspiration, it’s different for every song. “A Song for Sterling” is about confusion and I think the opening riff symbolizes that well. Other songs were about moods and feelings we wanted to convey….Some songs we thought of as a scene from a movie. We have a song that will be released later that we thought of as a Chase scene in a 60’s spy film….weird,….another song was called “Final notes of a the Death Scene”
• I like that Apollo Suns is instrumental. It makes the listener focus on the music and the emotion woven among the various instrument voices, rather than glaze over the instrumental parts and just sing along. But, at the same time, I feel some people might be turned off because there are no lyrics. Would you consider collaborating with a vocalist on a song, or maybe adding one to your roster?
We have actually backed up some singers and poets in the past. It’s always been lots of fun. I think we will do it again and are currently talking with some folks I think would be a great match for us.
As for no lyrics, a good song is a good song. That comes through. Honesty is something people can feel and hear and I think we are honest. It shows in the music and while we have gotten the “Where’s the SINGER!??!” I think once the set is done and the dust settles we turn the skeptics into fans….or not. Not everyone will get what we do and that is okay. It’s not for them. But we have seen a lot of people from all walks dance at the shows. It’s wild.
Music is open and if you are open you will get it.
Hope that doesn’t sound too….hokey.