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SXSW 2011: The Apache Relay

Nashville indie rock group The Apache Relay have had quite a busy year. The band is set to release their latest album American Nomad on April 12th. The group is currently touring with Philadelphia’s G Love and the Special Sauce and is set to play a few shows at the 2011 SXSW festival.To hear a little bit of what The Apache Relay sound like check out their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper,” which you can download for free below. I recently had the opportunity to chat with multi-instrumentalist Kellen Wenrich; a Berks county native. Check out our conversation below:

How has the sound of the Apache Relay evolved in the past few years, and how much of that do you think is influenced by your live show?

We first met and began playing music together because Michael (Ford Jr.) had an acoustic project lined up to record as a response to inspirational acoustic records such as The Second Gleam and Raising Sand. Michael needed a band of acoustic musicians to back him up, and Mike, Brett, and I had been jamming fiddle tunes for a few months so we needed a singer to play behind. The band was born somewhat out of necessity, the four of us rallying behind Michael Ford’s desire to make an acoustic record, something he’d never done as a member of multiple rock groups in Nashville.

However, after we finished 1988 and began touring and getting to spend a lot more time together, we discovered that we had a lot more in common musical than just an appreciation for folk music. We realized that we all love the energy of Motown and the music of Arcade Fire, Wilco, Radiohead, Springsteen, and so on. We also discovered that we had the abilities to go beyond the constrictions of acoustic music. We never made a conscious decision to become a rock band; it just kind of happened.

What does it mean to be a band from Nashville how has the city helped you guys?

Nashville really keeps you on your toes. It’s a constant source of inspiration and it’s great having so many industry people around you constantly. It definitely helps you feel like a small fish in a big pond.

What was the process of recording American Nomad like and how is this album different then previous releases?

The recording process for American Nomad was incredibly similar to recording our first release 1988. Both were tracked for the most part completely live, and both times we were crammed into small studios. In 1988 the drums were tracked live two feet behind Michael Ford’s vocal mic. On the new record, you can hear Mike Harris’ electric guitar (acoustically) in a vocal mic before it swells into the amp. We’re really inspired by the recording process of both acoustic and Motown records; a bunch of guys recording music live all together.

What does the future hold for the Apache Relay?

We’re currently on tour with G. Love and the Special Sauce which has been going great. We’re having our first national release on April 12th, American Nomad, which will be accompanied with a coast-to-coast tour with Ezra Furman and the Harpoons. Before that we’ve got another G. Love date in Dallas in the midst of two showcases and a handful of parties at SXSW. We’re also going to be playing a few dates with a band called Young the Giant that we’re all stoked about.

Author: Doug Hynes

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