Interview with Ben Dowd of Apes
You guys are about to release your first studio album which was produced by Michael Belsar and mixed by some incredible people. How did that come about? Are you happy with how it sounds?
We are stoked with how it sounds. It was never a conscious decision to have so many people involved with the process but I think that was kinda like, something that happened because of how much time it took us to record it and stuff.
Our sound kinda developed throughout the process so had different flavours from different people and we’re really happy with it. It makes it sound really interesting.
It took you guys four years to record it. Why did it take so long?
Well, we wrote a whole album probably in about 2014, so at the tail end of that, we were writing different sounding stuff to early Apes and we found that stuff wasn’t really matching so we ended up exploring that for a few months and it kinda went southbound more so than the previous stuff that we had recorded for the record. Next minute, it’s 2017.
I listened to it the other day. It’s sounding great
Oh thank you!
You guys have been around for awhile now. What are some of the stranger places that you have played at?
I don’t know, our first gig ever….actually, I can’t really remember! Oh….our first gig was actually at the Espy front bar. I walked past there the other day and my heart broke a little. It’s pretty sad.
As far as weird places go, shit. We played at this place, it’s called The Loft, in the Gold Coast. It kinda felt like it was in a Chinese Restaurant or something. It was one of those gigs where you didn’t really expect much but it was bloody crazy. The crowd got real loose, got half naked and stuff.
What have been the most surreal moments of your career so far?
There’s been a few. I think like, we always wanted to play The Forum; like that was just a venue we’d always go to and look at and just think how remarkable it was so finally getting a chance to do that was pretty big for us. And just getting to play with bands that kinda got us into music – bands like Band of Skulls and The Datsuns and stuff like that were pretty special moments.
If you could pick any other career other than music, what would you choose or have you always known what you wanted to do?
Maybe an NBA journalist or a podcaster.
Got any podcasts that you would recommend?
Oh man, can’t go wrong with the Joe Rogan Experience
Yeah everyone has told me to listen to that one. Just haven’t had the chance yet
Ah it’s great. Killer.
Have you taken risks in your career that could have potentially destroyed the band?
Um, well I guess, with taking time off, we were always chasing our tails recording singles and stuff so kind of taking time off to write at the height of what we’ve ever been at was a bit of a risk and it still could be so…we’ll find out in time if it was all worth it or not.
As you get older, do you find that you are losing passion for the industry or are you just as passionate as when you first started?
As you get older, what you want out of music changes a bit. When we started the band, we kind of had fun partying and all the stuff that comes with it but now it’s more like, we wanna write stuff that’s a bit more…has longevity.
If we can make a career out of it, that would be great!
As a fan, it’s often quite hard to go up to your idols and say hello for fear of being turned away or fear of seizing up and sounding like an idiot. As a musician, how do you go at meeting your idols? Do you have the same fears?
Nah, I don’t know. A big part of doing arts and something creative is to touch people in a certain way and you know, unless your idols are complete wankers, you shouldn’t be too scared of it.
I remember one time going up to Chris Cheney and just choking
(laughs), I don’t know that I would ever choke up meeting a musician because now it doesn’t seem like something totally out of the realm of things you could accomplish but meeting a professional athlete or something, that’s like, totally out of the realm of anything that I would be able to do so I think that I’d be a bit more in fear meeting Kevin Durant or something.
A 6”9′ athletic dude…I could never do that. I’m like, 5”6′
You guys have toured with some big acts now. Was there anyone that you were actually disappointed by and why? On the other side, who surprised you and why?
No one’s really like, disappointed us but I guess as far as surprised us, we did a tour with The Darkness and those guys were the loveliest dudes ever. After every set we did, they would come into our band room and give us intricate feedback like, it would be “oh man, that third song, you should play that first because the energy would translate a bit earlier” and just, really constructive criticism which was totally above and beyond anything that they had to do.
But yeah, there hasn’t been any let downs but maybe I’m just saying that…
What’s the craziest things that any of you have done – things that you look back at now and think “what the hell was I thinking?”
I don’t know, maybe taking 5 years to bring out our first album.
Well you know, if that’s the only thing that you have to regret, you’ve probably lived your life well
Actually, I do labour as a demolition man and I do wonder what the hell I’m doing every time I rock up.
That’s definitely different to music
Yeah, I’m like Melbourne’s Rodriguez.
If you guys could organise your own festival, what bands would you have headline it?
I reckon, LCD Sound System, Radiohead, Oasis, Jeff Buckley, The Doors, AC/DC. Kendrick Lemar
Hey, that would get everyone there too – something for everyone
Have you guys got a big tour planned for this album and will Perth be included?
Definitely. We’ve been hanging to get out. Fremantle is like my favourite place in Australia. Beautiful over there.
Rage is celebrating a milestone this year and if you could program Rage, what videos would you choose and why?
Favourite video – maybe AC/DC’s video, Jail Break. That was shot in the town that me and Sam grew up in. I was watching it the other night. It was great.
Is there anything else that you guys wanted to say?
Just that Apes Stranger Than Stranger is out for release on May 19 so get yourself a copy.