From Tennessee to California and Back: An Interview with Brett Moore of The Apache Relay


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Tennessee folk band, The Apache Relay, have hit the ground running. Following the recent release of their self-titled album, which has garnered praise from Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post, the band has embarked on a tour throughout the Midwest opening for Jenny Lewis. This week they’ll hit Deluxe at Old National Centre in Indianapolis on Thursday July 31st.

I had a chance to speak with Brett Moore, who plays keys, guitar and mandolin in The Apache Relay. We talked about life on the road, the bands’ unique album cover and the motivation behind the video for, “Don’t Leave Me Now.” 

Mojo: The last show you guys played was in Chicago. What have you been doing since then?

Brett Moore: We’ve been rehearsing a little bit, trying to work on some special stuff and make it a better show. Other than that, just trying to stay cool, it has been really hot in Tennessee, as it always is in the summer.

M: Is it more enjoyable to play a show in your home state?

B: It is actually more nerve-wracking, I think, because we will have friends and family at the show. I think it is easier to play for strangers. It kind of wrecks my nerves to play for friends, especially in Nashville, where I am more aware of how talented everyone is. I am sure there are creative musicians everywhere, but I don’t necessarily know the people, so it is difficult to play in Nashville and look out, ‘there’s that guy.’ It is still fun don’t get me wrong.

M: You are a multi-instrumentalist. How did you get started playing music?

B: I got started playing music growing up, like a lot of kids, playing in the middle school band. That was really my first foray into music, I was playing trumpet, just rocking out. Several influential teachers in that prime time growing up really shaped me. At the same time, my parents aren’t directly musicians but they are music lovers and we were always listening to music growing up. They are great patrons of music and introduced me to the right stuff.

My aunt and uncle are really great musicians and definitely sort of guided me. My uncle played bass and my aunt is probably the greatest harmonica player I have ever heard in my life. They helped me out, playing live with their band for the first time. It’s those kind of things that set the stage for where I am now. There were some formative years in middle and high school. I was just around the right people I guess.

M: Who are/were some of your musical influences?

B: For me it is all across the board because I take influence from song writers like Jeff Tweedy from Wilco and Jim James from My Morning Jacket. I think that is a huge influence for the vibe we are going for as a bigger band. I take a lot of influence from instrumentalists too, for musical, melodic influence and content like that.There is a guitar player I really like named Michael Landau. For someone who is always thinking about melody and lyricism when playing even when he is all-out shredding, he is making a musical statement.

It is interesting, some people are like, ‘I’m only into indie rock, and that is my thing and I listen to indie rock bands,’ and on the other side of the coin there are people who listen to jazz and instrumental music and that is their thing. I kind of have feet on both sides of the line.  When it comes down to it, I just love music and listening to any music, I find inspiration.

M: Do you enjoy life on the road?

B: Yeah, it is so interesting. It is a really different counter cultural lifestyle for sure.  What is fun is that the band – the group of guys that I am with and the various people who tag along – we kind of get into our own little world with inside jokes and trying to make the most of it. It is awesome. I tell you what, I couldn’t do it alone. I’m able to do it because I am surrounded by hilarious people who make it interesting. It is basically, pun intended, a trip.

M: Why did you guys decide to record your most recent album in California?

B: I think we were at a turning point in our song writing and musically where we were just trying out a bunch of different things. I think before we made really definitive choices on what direction we wanted to go musically, we narrowed it fundamentally. We needed to get outside of Nashville and go somewhere that was outside of our comfort zone and LA was a great place to do that because none of us had spent any extended time there.  It really made us focus on the task at hand which is to make the best record that we could. It took a really long time but we got something done and I like how it turned out.

M: I really like the album cover, how did you guys come up with that? apache relay 1

B: It seems like a really posed, thought out thing – and it was when we actually did the shot that ended up on the cover – but that was taken at the house we were renting while we were making the record. We rented this house up in the hills and it was the most classic 70’s L.A. pad ever. Recording was so intense and the actual production of this record – working with the producer – was such a trying process. So, when we got back to the house every night we would just goof off and try to blow off steam. We figured out that the pool was very close to the roof of the house. One thing led to another and we started jumping off of it. It just felt, in many ways, that that image was a good representation of that time.

M: I watched the video for, “Don’t Leave Me Now,” and it has this sort of small town, working class, high school adolescent vibe going on. It seems like people are trying to make the best of a less than ideal situation. I was wondering if you could talk a bit about that song and the goal of the video?

B: That video was the vision of the director, Michael Carter, who is just an amazing music video director and a real artist for that matter. He had written some loose characterization and a little story line that revolved around real people in Resident, Tenn., about 30 minutes east of town, and it is a real small town. Everyone in that video; it is a portrayal of their real life and real things going on. The couples, the teenagers, are a real couple and that is his real grandmother and everything in the video is real. That was the whole idea. Michael wanted to tell his story but at the same time let the real story tell itself and he felt like the people in that small town in Tennessee, the song was a good representation of some of their real emotions. It was really cool to be able to use real people and tell a real story instead of actors and fabricated stuff.

M: You guys have opened up for some prominent bands and played a number of festivals. Where do you see the band going from there?

B: I try to keep my expectations low so that anything that happens is awesome. From here, we are just going to keep doing the thing. We are going to keep writing songs and recording songs and playing songs live. That is really all we can do. If people show up to our shows, that is amazing. Hopefully they will and meanwhile we will just keep touring and doing the whole thing.

The Apache Relay will open for Jenny Lewis at Deluxe at Old National Centre on Thursday, July 31st at 8:00 p.m.  Purchase tickets here.

Listen to the self-titled album below.

 

Photos by Wrenne Evans