Once in a very long while, you get the chance to interview hot new bands who impress with their music. Once such occasion was recently when I got the chance to discuss Apocalyptic Lovers with drummer/manager David Hope. Their debut EP is called Redemption Volume 1 and is a fiery ball of classic rock that owes some of its sound to favourites such as Dokken, a link strengthened by their work with the legend that is Michael Wagener! We discuss all things rock and why he doesn’t care about being labelled.
To start off the interview, I was interested to know how the band got together.
“We are a melodic hard rock/metal band that formed in 1991 in the United States,” said David. “The Grunge/Seattle sound was huge then, and just about killed off most the bands that we liked and/or sounded like us. We did not try to change in order to fit in because we loved the music we grew up on and thought there was and still is room for melodic hard rock/metal. Call it Hair Metal, call it what you want, we don’t fricking care!”
This prompted me to ask about what influences the band had…
“We grew up on the early LA metal scene when all those bands were still hungry and had an edge. Van Halen, Motley Crue, Ratt, Dokken, Great White, and bands from overseas like Whitesnake and Def Leppard, were a huge influence on us and that comes across in our music without us sounding too much like any of them.”
“We are a perfect example that age does not matter and if you are patient and work hard, good things can happen. We came back 20+ years later with our original goal of re-recording a few old tunes along with a couple of new ones to create a product we were happy with and could share with family and friends.”
“Fast-forward to now, and the patience, hard work, and a little bit of being in the right place at the right time have paid off. We have a fantastic new website, a strong social media presence, were able to chat with former G’nR and Great White Manager, Alan Niven, mixed with legendary producer, Michael Wagener, and now have our EP out worldwide via iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. Not too shabby for a bunch of old b****ds.”
“The inspiration behind our new 8-song EP, Redemption Volume I began with rather sad circumstances. About five years ago, my wife’s sister passed away, and it just crushed my wife and her siblings. When I was driving to the airport to pick her up from the funeral in her home state of Illinois, a line in a tune resonated with me: ‘change of frequency’. A light bulb went off, inspiring me to write a song from the deceased person’s point of view. All the way to the airport and back, I wrote the lyrics to the entire song in my head. When I got them down on paper, I loved the song and so did my wife, but I shelved it for about four years.”
“A little over a year ago, I finally decided to reach out to Sean to see if he would like to put music to my lyrics for “Change of Frequency.” Sean was on board and nailed the music on the first go. Then, when Rob got his hands on it and killed the vocals, we realized the time was right to “redeem” ourselves from the last CD we recorded in 1995 under our former band name, Love and War. We had never been happy with that recording, which had been seriously rushed, but we never got another chance to record together, having parted ways in 1997 due to the Grunge scene takeover. Many of us have moved across the USA since then, and we have each been doing our own thing, family, jobs, other bands, etc. But after that new song, we were inspired to get back together to split the old CD in two, rewrite and record six of the songs, and add two new songs including “Change of Frequency.”
I wondered what were the short term objectives for the band and asked David to elaborate…
“We have our first gig of the year coming up on July 23rd at the New Manhattan in Ohio. We are playing the EP in full and we have had labels and promoters reach out to us and mention that they were interested in attending. Either way, our hope is to nail down some “fly dates” and following our July gig play New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas as well as secure a spot on one of the Monsters of Rock Cruises and a few festivals, such as Farm Rock.”
Following on from that, I asked David whether the band had a longer term aim what were they going to do touring wise…
“Long term, we have a TON of material so, no matter if we get a “deal” or not or get any “fly dates” we plan on getting together about every 16 months to record & release our music. Between our classic tunes we are re-writing and new material, we have enough for about ten 6 song EPs. Some dudes golf or go to strip clubs together, we have decided to continue as a band and write and record regardless of what happens. I guess I got ahead of myself & answered regarding touring earlier.”
I was interested to know what kept David awake at night in terms of the band (if anything does)…
“Back in the day it was everything, but this time around not much really. We are enjoying the ride this time around (learned that from the last time); letting the chips just fall. We really can’t lose either way right? Big record deal and touring on a bus and international success would be great, but we are very aware of the times we are in. Writing, recording and putting our music out for fans of this is what matters most for us at this point, so if that is all that it ends up being there is nothing wrong with that either. Anyone that enjoys playing, writing & recording will understand that for sure. Do day jobs suck? Sure they do, but it is what it is. Streaming music has almost killed the ability of musicians doing this for a living, but hopefully, someday that will be fixed as well.”
I wanted to know if David had any messages in the band’s music?
“Sean our guitarist writes the bulk of our tunes and he just writes about real life. You can only write about chicks, dragons and blow jobs so much and a lot of that stuff just does not seem to hold up over time. I think if a person can relate to a song and understand the feeling behind it AND it has a good hook, you have something special.”
Finally, I asked whether David had any stories relating to the recording of the album that may be of interest to Decibel Geek readers…
“My singer Rob & I went to Wire World Studios to mix our EP with the legendary Michael Wagener. Michael was just awesome as a person and just amazing to watch him do his thing. When asked this question Rob and I always have the same answer and to us its kind of a funny story, but 100% true.”
“The one band that all five members of our group agree on is the classic Dokken lineup, all of whose albums Michael mixed and/or produced. That said, Dokken was brought up a lot while discussing the mixing of our record, although it’s not like we said, “Ok Michael, we want the entire EP to sound like Dokken’s ‘Under Lock and Key’.” When I arrived at Michael’s studio, this past November, Michael and Rob were probably about 75% finished mixing “Better Days”, the opening track and one of my favorite songs on the album.
“They stopped mixing to chat with me, Dokken was included in the conversation, and soon mixing started back up. Sean wrote a killer riff for “Better Days” and the song is very up-tempo until it hits the chorus and slams on the brakes to a huge harmony chorus with half-time tempo. I heard the partially finished mix and thought it was amazing, but when Michael worked his magic and finished mixing the song, the hair stood on my arms. When the final playback ended, he turned and looked at Rob and me, and said, “There, you are Dokkenized!” We thought that was the funniest thing, and it became the running joke after every song was finished…we were Dokkenized!”
I thanked David and wished him all the best for the future of an incredible band, Apocalyptic Lovers. Go give their record a spin and show the band some love on Facebook etc. In an age of indifference, these guys care!