Jungle Sounds; An Interview with Ape Rising

I’ve been looking forward to sitting down and really digesting all of this post for quite a number of days.
First off, I have been super inactive due to relocating head office to Belfast and expanding my career horizons, which very well might see me joining a Music school in the coming weeks which will be my first formal, in writing, teaching job which will be a huge step. But more on that as it happens, I just wanted to explain/excuse the recent absence/delay in posting

 

So, Last Month saw the release of the self produced debut album of Ape Rising, a 5 piece Alternative Indie outfit consisting of 2 former members of the Radioactive Grandma; Johno Leader & Peter Donohue with the additional limbs of Synth player Peter Denton, Drummer Fran McDonnell, and Bassist (and part-time Wolf Juggler) Jimmy Deface.
Since it’s the closest thing to a Radioactive Grandma follow up, this album has me beyond excited and naturally I had to get in touch with the guys to dissect this.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, The Radioactive Grandma were the kind of Acoustic powerhouse that put Cajons and Cavan on the map. Their standalone album cemented a theme of minimalist DIY with the paper collage cover art and simplistic, self made music videos featuring Hand puppets (‘Don’t look down’) and cardboard boxes being worn on heads in public places (‘Robot Song’).
I first discovered them through online music series The Best Kept Secret, a project that is no longer running but really brilliantly showcased a lot of independent acts from the Irish music scene.
Their album dropped around leaving cert time and was heavily talked about in the following college year whenever someone mentioned Cavan, or music from Cavan.

Ape Rising is like Bloc Party & Stuart Copeland collaborating on a Spyro reboot, which sees the title character grown up and rugged with a bionic eye.
Although a completely new musical journey, there are strong elements of the Radioactive Grandma and Juggling Wolves that have noticeably been left in the pot to brew a bit longer, but the material is by no means yesterday’s tea; it’s red raw and invokes from start to finish.

An Interview with Ape Rising

 

So, tell us about the new album

Well our album has been a little while in the making. We spent about 18 month working on it from start to finish; being from when the songs were fleshed-out rehearsal wise to when we had the album recorded and mixed, so it took a while but it’s better for it.
And because we did it all at our own studio we had the luxury of taking our time to get it how we wanted – which is very handy.

The album is a kind of experimental, slightly progressive synth-rock with a bit of a videogamesy vibe and a few lighter pop elements in there too. It doesn’t sit in one place for too long and it’s quite dense too in places, so there’s always something you didn’t hear the first time round. The plan was to try and make the album as interesting as possible, and hopefully we’ve got some way there.

Who would you say are the main musical influences of the band’s sound?

Our influences are ,without trying to be boring, quite diverse; each of us is into different stuff from Old school Hiphop to Prog rock/Metal, retro video games music, folk, Pop, 90s UK indie, and more Metal. The main influence of the overall sound would definitely stem from the Rock, Videogames, Prog rock/pop kind of area though.

Some of our influences would include: Mr Bungle, Deam Theater, Incubus, 12 Stone Toddler, Opeth, ABBA, Focus, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, George Michael, Mike Patton, Devin Townsend, Maynard Keenan and a heap more.

Johno (photo by Siobhan Denton)
Photo Credit Siobhan Denton

I have to ask about the vocals because I genuinely feel they make this album, we’re rarely hearing one vocal part at any time and there’s a lot going on.
Where did they all spring from and how were they achieved in studio?

Putting down the vocal parts and harmonies for the songs usually comes last for us. Sometimes not, but most times. We know what kind of feel we’re going for with the music so once we have that down with a vocal melody idea, we start fleshing it out with words and get the melody refined until we’re all happy with it.
When we’re coming up with harmony parts I always go with what is achievable live, so we’ll make sure we’re all good with what we’re playing on those parts of the songs, and if we’re able to add harmonies to make something a bit more intricate or epic.
We will usually get them down and see how they sound.
Again, having a studio to work from is essential to this style of writing, it’s all about the time you have to let ideas sink in and see if they actually work over time.

Anyway, to actually answer your questions: They sprang from 4 out of 5 of us being able to sing, so we try to put it to good use and make the music as interesting as possible, if we can. The harmonies are achieved very easily in the studio, we also spend a lot of time practicing through various parts that we’ve come up with and decide which work best for the song, once that’s done it’s just a matter of getting great takes and placing them in the mix carefully.

Keys (photo by Siobhan Denton)
Photo Credit Siobhan Denton

 

Have you any songs on the album that stand out as a particular favourite?

Personally, I have a relationship with all of the songs but if I had to pick which is my ‘current’ fave it would have to be the last song that was written for the album. Let’s face it, the last songs you write is always your current fave and that would be ‘6 Eight 7’, which is actually also the last track on the album too and written about a manned mission to mars that doesn’t go to plan. So there’s that too.

With the release of this album I’ve started re-listening to the 2014 Juggling Wolves album.
Are there any plans for that project to be expanded on?

Maybe at some point in the distant future, I mean we ARE in the same band.

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Click on the Image to listen

Are there any other bands or acts in the Irish music scene you’re presently paying close attention to and really digging?

I’m really glad you asked that question.

Stitch Jones, Slouch, Bicurious, Vulpynes, King Modo, Overhead the Albatross, Barq, Hatchlings, Fox E & The Good Hands, Crojayne, Abandcalledboy, New Valley Wolves, Moxie, Megacone, New Secret Weapon, The Fitzafrenic To name merely a few of them.

Fran (photo by Siobhan Denton)
Photo Credit Siobhan Denton

You can check out Ape Rising’s Debut Album on Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, Amazon music and Bandcamp. All that good stuff.

Also, if you’d like to hear more from Ape Rising or see when they’re gigging near you, you can follow them on their various social media platforms.
Facebook
Twitter
Youtube
And of course, Ape Rising’s own website.

As always, Thanks for reading and if there is anything you want me to talk about or if like you have a music related question please get in touch with me in the comments section or on the contacts page.
Until next time
*beats chest like a gorilla*

 

 

 

 

 

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