GALWAY BAND The Amazing Apples have landed in 2015 with some striking singles – ‘Slipping By’, and their most recent, ‘Lullaby’ - and now comes their debut album A Little Sense, which will be released on Friday May 29, followed by a celebratory hometown gig at the Róisín Dubh on Sunday May 31.
A Little Sense was recorded in Grouse Lodge with renowned Irish music producer, Joe Chester (The Coronas, Ryan Sheridan ) and mastered in Sterling Sound in the USA, by Greg Calbi (The National, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon ). A Little Sense is an album brimming with inventive, thought-provoking music. From the opening moments, as beautiful guitar swells couple with pounding drums (‘On Your Own’ ), the scene is set. The sweet and delicate single ‘Lullaby’, follows, pulling listeners in and setting us up for the incredible ‘Jack and Jill’; a stunning and nostalgic love song that demonstrates The Amazing Apples’ ability to skilfully walk the line between traditional Irish folk music and indie rock.
Often described as a new style Waterboys meets Mumford and Sons, the five piece multi-instrumentalists have established themselves as one of the best live acts on the Irish circuit over the past couple of years. They have wowed crowds at Electric Picnic, Currafest, and Helium Festival and provided eye-catching support slots to the likes of Damien Dempsey, Mundy, Little Green Cars, and Sharon Shannon. The group also won the Townhouse Bar Battle of the Bands in Galway scooping a prize worth €15,000 and have performed in both the US and mainland Europe.
With the band gaining ever more admirers in recent times it is somewhat surprising to realize that they have actually been around since 2008. The group was formed by brothers Cian and Darragh Crehan and drummer Brian Grace, who had already played in bands together. That year they were joined by fiddle player Eanna Fahy and Anthony Ryan who brought an impressive lead guitar sound to the plate. All five members are multi-instrumentalists incorporating bouzouki, fiddle, mandolin, keyboards, and banjos, among other instruments.
“We started out as a cover band and to make a few euros on the side we did weddings because there is good money in it,” Eanna Fahy tells me over a lunchtime chat. “We liked doing different versions of songs and changing things up a bit but we always had a few original songs of our own. You could say in the last three or four years we’ve focused mostly on our original material. We always give our gigs 100 per cent. Our main thing is performing. We absolutely love doing live shows and interacting with people. We very much believe that playing for an audience is the most important thing. We enjoyed playing weddings but there is no better feeling than playing your own music to a responsive crowd.”
The Apples’ days of doing wedding gigs seem behind them as they forge confidently ahead with their own material. Interestingly the sleeve notes of A Little Sense states ‘all songs are written and performed by Amazing Apples’ rather than crediting tracks to individual members. It is testament to the democratic team spirit that is an integral part of the Apples’ dynamic.
“I’ve written songs for Darragh to sing and vice versa,” Fahy explains. “If the song doesn’t suit the person who wrote it we give it to the next person. Myself, Darragh, Cian, and Anto all wrote songs for the album but all of us in the band shared ideas, there is no ‘head honcho’ as such.”
Fahy reveals that A Little Sense marks something of a new beginning for the group; “We wanted to start afresh with a full new sound. Going forward it’s almost like we are starting from year zero. We’ve had a very folky-influenced sound over the last couple of years but now we want to branch out into other areas that we enjoy ourselves, more along the indie and rock lines. The folk is still an underlying element in the music and the instruments we use are very folk-orientated but going forward we want to have a different sound and outlook and reach a wider audience.”
Joe Chester’s production on the album is superb and Fahy and his bandmates are justifiably thrilled with his contribution. “It was brilliant,” Fahy enthuses. “We said we would go all out for it so we hired in Joe who is a terrific producer, we couldn’t recommend him highly enough. We went down to Grouse Lodge and spent two weeks there recording and made full use of the facilities there we tried to get as big a sound as possible because there are great acoustics there. Joe’s production really added to the whole thing, we’re really happy with how it came out, we’re delighted with the sound. It’s kind of unique to us and separates us from the rest of the herd we think.”
Another aspect of the Apples’ appeal is the way band members can trade instruments and lead vocals as well as harmonise which is reminiscent of fabled outfits like The Band.
“We all swap instruments,” Fahy acknowledges. “The three of us who sing – myself, Darragh and Cian - do harmonies and we take turns doing lead vocals which is a nice dynamic to watch for the audience. Another band we are very fond of is The Old Crow Medicine Show who we saw perform this year. Everyone of them takes centre stage and swaps instruments and it was very enjoyable to watch. When you see bands doing it, it’s enjoyable and gives you a more diverse sound.
"When people come in to see our live show in the Róisín you’ll notice that as the gig progresses it gets heavier toward the end, the folky instruments and sound built toward a crescendo that is heavier and more indie and we’re happy with that at the moment. ‘Battle’ [the album’s closing track] and ‘On Your Own’ [the opening track] finish out the set and I don’t know if anyone has noticed yet but the start of the album is also the finish of the album, the end of ‘Battle’ loops back into ‘On Your Own’ so we keep those two together to finish out the set which gives it a good, heavy finish.”
The Amazing Apples play the Roisin Dubh on Sunday May 31 at 9pm and tickets are €10 on the door and through www.roisindubh.net The previous day, Saturday 30, they play an an in-store gig in HMV at 1pm.