[Interview] The Apache Relay

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Nashville rhythm shakers The Apache Relay are traveling across the country to show everyone that folk music really can rock. Taking a moment from their tour to speak with me, Brett Moore of the six-piece band shared some insight on getting to play rock n’ roll with his friends.

I called Moore just as he was leaving a “gas station with a petting zoo,” I wondered what animals they could possibly have at a gas station, “one alpaca, one sheep and a basset hound,” he said. We shared a laugh which instantly set the pace for the rest of the conversation.

Mxp:If a newcomer were to visit Nashville what would you take them to see first?

Brett Moore: The Ryman in downtown, it serves as the center of Nashville. So many great artists have passed through there and it holds so much history.

Mxp: I read that you spent some time in California working on your new album. What stuck out to you the most about Los Angeles?

Moore: We recorded at a studio in the valley and there’s such a distinct vibe there but what struck me is you could drive into the hills and be in the city or you could drive over the hills and be at the beach. I was surprised by how beautiful the scenery is because I thought LA would be purely urban. We rented a house off of Topanga Canyon – it’s your quintessential 70s ranch – we were surrounded by nature and rows of trees. This new album was particularly challenging and that house served as a hideout after our long days in the studio. Actually, our album cover was shot at that house – we have a lot of great memories there.

Mxp: Could you describe the band’s collaboration process?

Moore: Michael writes a song and plays it for us on an acoustic or electric guitar – he continues to work on that with his brother, Ben. Then he brings it to the round table and we all begin breaking it down. What follows is a very democratic process – bouncing ideas off of one another, tweaking or adding a few things along the way. For example, one track off the record “Don’t Leave” which is an upbeat old-soul pop track didn’t start off that way. Michael played it as a slow, acoustic track and we were like: hey, what if we tried it like this. The finished piece was inspired by “Instant Karma” by John Lennon. The lyrics and core of the song stayed the same but that was an example of how a song can start out one way with us and be taken to a totally different plane.

Mxp: How would you describe the band’s sound?

Moore: It definitely has the energy of rock n’ roll mixed in with soul and folk. We’ve kept the boundaries of our sound undefined. So when we’re creating music the borders aren’t clearly planted – we’re not limited to just black and white. It’s like painting: the color palette is wide open – we don’t have to stick to only these colors.

Mxp: Do you have a favorite track off the new album?

Moore: Not one in particular, I like “Katie, Queen of Tennessee” a lot. “Terrible Feelings” which has a darker, slower vibe to it and there’s a beautiful string arrangement on there as well.

Mxp: What song are you always excited to play live?

Moore: “Katie, Queen of Tennessee” – it’s a song that’s got all hands on board. A lot of vocal harmonies which is new for the band – we started to explore this a lot more in our new record. When we play it and people in the crowd recognize it, being our newest single, it’s very rewarding to see them dancing and singing along.

Mxp: Out of all the music festivals you played or attended which would you recommend the most?

Moore: The Newport Folk Festival it’s the perfect size, perfect setting and has a well curated line up – as far as my tastes go – but, we all loved it.

Mxp: What inspired you to pursue music?

Moore: The Beatles and Motown as a whole. I grew up listening to my parent’s records which are from the 60s and 70s. I feel like their pop music has a lot more integrity than today’s pop music. That kind of timeless music informs what we do as a band now.

Mxp: If you could play at any venue in the world, where would it be?

Moore: The Ryman in Nashville – in many ways, to me, it’s the perfect venue. We opened for Mumford & Sons and it was one of the most satisfying performances, it’s a special place – everything went off without a hitch.

Mxp: What was the first record you ever purchased?

Moore: Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt and it was on a cassette – I just remember getting it and being so, so excited.

Mxp: If your songs could tell a story where would it take place?

Moore: New Orleans, our songs have a storytelling feel to them and NOLA makes sense because that’s where Michael and Ben are from.

Mxp: I know you play the mandolin, keys and guitar for the band – what’s your favorite instrument to play?

Moore: Guitar, I try to make every excuse to play it – it’s a lot of fun. I know I’m not in any minority when I say this but I love playing it.

Mxp: If your music could be the soundtrack to any movie which would it be?

Moore: I gotta be careful what to say here [laughs] one of the guys just said Space Jam. It’s hard to say but parts of this record can be on a spaghetti western soundtrack.

Mxp: Listening to your album I got the feel that it could be on a Tarantino flick.

Moore: Oh, yeah totally.

Mxp: Are any of you guys dressing up this Halloween?

Moore: Some would argue that we are in costume, 365. We were at a gas station in North Carolina, dressed in clothes that we consider normal. We step out of our van and a man poked his head out from the other side of the pump and asked, “Why y’all dressed like that?”.

Brett Moore served as a humble introduction to the folk rockers hailing from the South and it’s refreshing to know that The Apache Relay can signify themselves through one member. Never truly straying away from them, Moore could be overheard consulting his bandmates in order to get their message across.

The Apache Relay could be stopping by your town – you don’t wanna miss it! If you don’t see your city on this list then be sure to listen to their newest self-titled album, out now.


Tamara studies Journalism at Cal State Northridge but she doesn’t pay too much attention because her brain wanders towards the chords of Vampire Weekend songs, the identity of John Snow’s parents and costco pizza. She blogs here and tweets @tafreaky.

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