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2007/09 idgf underground
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The Apples in Stereo is an American indie rock band associated with The Elephant Six Collective, a group of bands also including Neutral Milk Hotel and The Olivia Tremor Control. The band is largely a product of lead vocalist/guitarist Robert Schneider, who writes the majority of the band's music and lyrics. Currently, The Apples in Stereo also includes longstanding members John Hill (rhythm guitar) and Eric Allen (bass), as well as new members Bill Doss (keyboards), John Dufilho (drums) and John Ferguson (keyboards).
They are best known for their bright, catchy lyrics and 60s pop/rock sound that often evokes comparisons to The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys, and, with the release of New Magnetic Wonder, Electric Light Orchestra.
1991-1993: The Apples
In late 1991, Robert Schneider met Jim McIntyre on a commuter bus in Denver, Colorado. Schneider had recently moved to Colorado from Ruston, Louisiana, and would often initiate daily conversations with McIntyre. When Schneider asked McIntyre what his music interests were, McIntyre named his favorite band: The Beach Boys — a band Schneider was particularly fond of. Realizing that they shared many musical interests, McIntyre introduced Schneider to Hilarie Sidney. McIntyre already had a band called Von Hemmling in which McIntyre played bass and Sidney played drums. With Schneider, they discussed the idea of starting a band and perhaps a recording label. Schneider would later meet Chris Parfitt, who was also already in a band at the time. Schneider and Parfitt would also become friends, however, and toyed with the idea of having a rock band similar to The Velvet Underground or Black Sabbath, with production qualities similar to that of The Beach Boys.
Schneider would then spend two weeks in Athens, Georgia recording music and spending time with his childhood friends Will Cullen Hart, Bill Doss and Jeff Mangum. He discussed the idea of starting a record label with them (which would soon become The Elephant 6 Recording Company). It was also at this time that the name "The Apples" came about, inspired by the Pink Floyd song "Apples and Oranges".
The earliest incarnation of the band began to form in 1992 upon Schneider's return to Denver, first between Schneider and Parfitt, both of whom played guitar. The two would recruit McIntyre and Sidney during the autumn of that year, practicing material through the winter. Their first few live shows would take place the following January, many of which were with the band Felt Pilotes. From February to April 1993, the band recorded their debut 7" EP, Tidal Wave, and released it in June as the first official Elephant 6 release.
1994-1995: Hypnotic Suggestion and Fun Trick Noisemaker
Several conflicts would lead Parfitt to leave the band in early 1994. John Hill, a former bandmate of McIntyre's, would join the band as a rhythm guitarist while Schneider began to grow more comfortable playing lead guitar. It was also at this time that Schneider began to take stronger creative control of the band, shifting its sound from its stronger rock qualities to a spacier pop sound. The band started work on a debut full-length album, but it instead became Hypnotic Suggestion, a second EP. However, after SpinART Records offered to buy the band an 8-track in return for an album, new plans for an LP arose.
In mid-1994, after Hypnotic Suggestion, McIntyre would be the second to leave the band, due to a number of personal distresses as well as the newfound artistic constraints that arose with Parfitt's departure. Having great difficulty finding a new permanent bassist, the band would rotate a number of frequent contributors, including Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, Kurt Heasley of The Lilys, Kyle Jones, and Joel Evans, among others. Jim McIntyre would also occasionally guest on bass. This continued to be the makeup of the band as they toured the country in late 1994, recording the first half of their new album in Glendora, California. In early 1995, the band finished the album, Fun Trick Noisemaker, at Kyle Jones's house (the birthplace of Schneider's Pet Sounds Studio).
Now with a full-length LP to support, the band began touring again. Eric Allen, whom the band had previously auditioned as a guitarist after the departure of Chris Parfitt, joined the band as a much welcomed permanent bassist. Late 1995, Schneider relocated Pet Sounds Studio to Jim McIntyre's house.
A significantly different band from the original 1992 four-piece, the official name of the band gradually became "The Apples in Stereo", with the "in stereo" usually somewhat under-emphasized, whether in lower-case or in parenthesis. Schneider described this in an interview: "It's very clearcut, actually: we're The Apples, the music's in stereo. It's not actually the band name - it's a step back from it, a band name once removed. We're The Apples, in stereo. Kind of like a TV show, 'in stereo!' That always seemed to be a really big deal, that it was in stereo." McIntyre later remarked, "It's cool the name changed cause the Apples and the Apples in Stereo were really two different entities."
1996-2005: Tone Soul Evolution to Velocity of Sound
The band continued touring through 1996, playing in Japan for the first time. Several early recording sessions were held at Pet Sounds for the band's second album, Tone Soul Evolution, but the members were dissatisfied with the quality of the recordings. The majority of the album's songs were re-recorded at Studio .45 in Hartford, Connecticut before the album's release. In 1998, Chris McDuffie joined the band, playing various instruments including organs, synthesizers and assorted percussion. He would leave the band before Velocity of Sound was released in 2002.
Several more albums were released by the band through the years, including the psychedelic "concept EP" Her Wallpaper Reverie, The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone and Velocity of Sound; both of the latter which were progressively aimed at capturing the live sound of the band, which continued to tighten as they continued to perform hundreds of live shows (about 100 a year). In particular, the 2002 album Velocity of Sound rejects most of the psych-pop production sensibilities that would come to be associated with the band, instead featuring stripped-down production and sparse, rock instrumentation.
The band members would also continue to pursue careers in side bands and solo projects, with Schneider producing several albums for Elephant 6 artists. Schneider and drummer Hilarie Sidney were married for a time, with a son born in 2001. They have since been divorced.
The band went on a brief hiatus during 2004 as Schneider released the debut album from a new band called ulysses and Sidney released the debut album from her new band The High Water Marks; both were released on Eenie Meenie Records. In 2005, The Apples in Stereo contributed "Liza Jane" to the Eenie Meenie compilation, Dimension Mix. It was also around this time that news of a new studio album was being planned by the band.
2006-present: New Magnetic Wonder and new lineup
In August 2006, longtime drummer Hilarie Sidney officially announced her departure from the band during the band's closing set at the Athens Popfest music festival in Athens, Georgia. Her replacement, John Dufilho, lead singer and principal songwriter of The Deathray Davies, was announced in October 2006. 2006 touring member Bill Doss of The Olivia Tremor Control also quietly joined the band "officially" as its new keyboardist. John Ferguson of Big Fresh and Ulysses joined the Apples for their 2007 tours.
In December 2006, Robert Schneider appeared on the popular television show The Colbert Report to kick off a guitar solo contest between the show's host Stephen Colbert and Chris Funk of The Decemberists.
On February 6, 2007, The Apples in Stereo released their sixth studio LP, New Magnetic Wonder. Finishing a ten year deal with spinART Records, New Magnetic Wonder was the premiere release on Simian Records, a newly formed record label founded by Elijah Wood. This was followed by a long-awaited b-sides and rarities compilation titled Electronic Projects for Musicians, released on April 1.
In 2008, spinART Records went out of business. Rights for all major releases by The Apples in Stereo on the label have since been acquired by One Little Indian Records. In a recent interview, Schneider noted that the band's EPs have yet to have been re-released, but will likely be collected for another compilation. Such a compilation would probably include the re-releases of Look Away + 4, Let's Go! and a number of non-album songs released alongside New Magnetic Wonder.
On August 4, 2008, the band appeared again on The Colbert Report. They performed their song Can You Feel It? to promote the release of the Japanese picture disc.
2009- New Album
Schneider was featured in an ABC News Now feature on February 23, 2009. In it, he said the band is currently recording their new album in Lexington, Kentucky. While Schneider did not mention a release date, he said the new album would sound like "Early seventies R&B as played by a UFO".