As Graham Fisk, the drummer for Apollo Run so eloquently put it: "on a cold winter's eve in December 2010", I met up with the band to talk about all the important things: the Beatles, our love for acapella music, sending their music into space, a shared affinity for the Muppets... Oh yeah, and their group, an act that has been filling up local New York City venues left and right with their soulful infusion of pop, blues, rock, classical and gospel genres, as well as their different musical backgrounds.
The guys are constantly writing and working on new material. The composition of Apollo Run's discography is a completely collaborative effort between John McGrew (lead vocals, keys and trumpet), Jeff Kerestes (bass) and Fisk (backing vocals and drums). But the static lineup doesn't effect the music, which seems ever-evolving. What you get from one album to the next seems a different feeling. But the lineup preserves the underlying image, which remains decidedly Apollo Run despite the dynamics of their tunes.
Two years ago, a friend and I met at The Bitter End to watch Apollo Run perform. John went back and forth from the keys to the trumpet to dancing around the stage and beyond. He had a tremendous stage presence and the crowd was completely hypnotized. Even as I sat at that table in Park Slope last week, listening to their stories about where they came from and where they hope to be, I was mesmerized. To quote Graham, who was quoting Jethro Tull, "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Two hours had passed by the time we realized that this had been a really long "interview." These guys were (are) awesome and you can sense the genuine love that they have for one another; each talking up the others' skills and accolades. It was like I was hanging with my best friends; I could have talked to them all night.
Apollo Run has been filling up venues where standing room only is no longer an option. John, Graham and Jeff are phenomenally gifted musicians who never fail to surprise and delight every new fan that stumbles out of the cold and into their shows. Typically they are a three-piece outfit; however every once in a while you'll be delighted by their multi-instrumental skills, the addition of a horn section or even an entirely stripped-down acoustic set. These guys are ever changing and growing, they share a love of so many diverse genres of music that you never know what direction they'll head in next. The guys in Apollo Run were born to perform and their live show is a definite must see if you ever get the opportunity.
Apollo Run's debut EP, Here Be Dragons, Vol. 1, was released last fall and the guys performed their last show of 2010 at Pianos in New York City (videos below) to a packed house of "Runners" (as they like to call their fans) and newcomers for a friend's birthday party. John, Graham and Jeff gave us a brilliant set complete with incredible harmonies, a trumpet solo, and a rocked-out version of Happy Birthday for the guest of honor. They closed the show with a fan favorite (and John's favorite), "All in Good Time," an acapella stomp-clap that forces everyone in the room to get involved (though it doesn't take much, it's a pretty damn catchy tune). The song also gives the crowd some quality time with the guys, as it all takes place in the audience.
Word is they're working on a cover of Kanye's "Power" in the new year. Without a doubt, the power that these guys bring to their performances can only enhance what Kanye has done. I'm excited.
Lastly, a selection of videos to get acquainted with the band: