Interview: Apes

Australian garage rock quartet Apes have caught the attention of the likes of Zane Lowe and [Australian radio station] Triple J and for the first time ever this autumn they’ll be touring the UK. Matthew Burdon caught up with bassist Sam Reale ahead of their Birmingham show on at Alfie Birds on October 4 to find out why you can’t afford to miss them.

Hello APES, this is your first tour outside of Australia; do you have any pre-conceptions of UK crowds?

I guess we expect the crowds to be different in their own regard and we respect that – we normally do shows in Sydney and Brisbane and other states in Australia and even doing that we realise the differences between the three! I’m sure you guys are awesome, I’m excited to have a beer with the Birmingham audience, I’ve heard there’s a fairly big pub culture and hopefully everyone’s up for a good time.

You’ve picked up fame quite rapidly with huge help from Triple J and Zane Lowe that has seen you selling out shows in Melbourne and Sydney. This experience would be strange for anyone, what’s it been like for you? 

It’s actually been a pretty crazy year! Last year we played something like 50-100 capacity shows, all nationally, just getting our show up to scratch and we did have that support from Triple J as well, but this year we’ve done only half as many shows yet far more crazy stuff! We went from playing Thursday nights here and there to opening for some serious heavyweight bands that we grew up listening to. It’s just been flat-out fun the entire time. We’ve hit a couple of goals we initially set for ourselves in getting a few plays on radio stations overseas and booking a UK tour, and it’s always amazing when you hit those goals you set as a band. We’re very humbled by it and are always learning, so it’s been great!

[Australian-based music publishers] Native Tongue have recently picked you up, they distribute for the likes of Ty Segall and Bombay Bicycle Club – obviously this is a huge deal for an unsigned band like yourselves…

Yeah definitely – I’m still stoked to be in a band that actually ‘releases’ songs, let alone getting a deal with those guys, so it’s extremely exciting for me and the guys. We signed the contracts with the Native Tongue guys the other day then went out drinking with them, they’re unreal dudes and understand the band really well!

Touring with the likes of Band Of Skulls and playing shows with Royal Blood and FIDLAR has got to be pretty incredible, are there any standout moments from your tours?

I think the Band Of Skulls tour was pretty mega! When we first started APES and we were finding our sound and that type of thing, those guys were one of maybe four or five bands who we looked up to and wanted to model ourselves on. So having the opportunity to support was great, they were really nice and we learnt so much from them.

Royal Blood were also unreal, at the time you looked around and one in about every three people had this look on their face like ‘Whattttttt the f***, this band is unreal!’ and now they’re smashing it. Good for them, they deserve every moment, they were great to play with as well, super cool dudes.

Australia is pretty vast, what are you guys listening to when you’re travelling between shows?

Lots of stuff really, we generally have this rule of thumb that whatever you play, you play the entire album. Speaking of Royal Blood, their new album’s been on rotation in the van lately, it’s so sick! Plenty of other stuff too like The National, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, the new DFA album, Band Of Skulls, War On Drugs.

Speaking of Australia, your hometown of Ballarat has quite an extensive music scene – what were the early gigs like for you guys?

Really awesome! The main venue there, the Karova Lounge, has always been super supportive of music coming out of Ballarat and so is the music community itself really. Other bands will come down to check you out and you’ll always do the same for them. The guys who run the venue are incredible and always look after the acts that come through. We’re definitely proud to rep the #3350 post code.

When people think of music from Australia nowadays it’s acts like Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett that spring to mind. Would you say that Australian music has a certain feel to it and has it affected your approach to songwriting?

Yeah definitely, you can always tell when a band is authentically Australian. Tame Impala’s last album was a massive deal here and did so much for the Aussie landscape at the time. Courtney Barnett is awesome as well, if you’re an Aussie there’s so much Australian culture that bleeds out of her music but it’s on an international scale now which is sick, it’s good to see her smashing it. There’s also lots of other unreal Aussie bands to check out which you’ll hopefully hear over the airwaves soon, there’s definitely a real healthy music scene over here at the moment, it’s a really exciting time to be playing.

Finally, for those unaware of APES, what would you say defines your live shows?

I think with the APES live show, one of the things we’ve always prided ourselves on is the range of music we play, it’s definitely not a ‘pigeon holed’ type of set. There’s a variety of music there from slow burners to more fast, raw and heavy stuff, and hopefully the UK guys take to it. We LOVE playing live, to us it’s everything and we love to have some fun with it, you’ll see that translate live really well. We hope you enjoy the show! Thanks for the chat guys – see you over there ☺

Apes play Alfie Birds, Birmingham on October 4 with support from The Mighty Young. Tickets are priced at £6.50 advance and are available here.

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