London-spawned APRE join a host of rising voices on the UK scene, but few are as uniquely exciting as this band. So, what is so special about the music they make? Simply defined, its modernist pop with heaps of character and cool, yet this description is far too meagre to fully envisage the nuanced, subversive beauty of the band. APRE’s music is more than just a mood or style but deeply engaged in innovation and expression. The duo camouflage artistic smarts via inviting splashes of distinct sound, collaging a spread of scintillating duel guitars alongside electronic beats, layered grooves and irresistible hooks.
Easily one of the best live bands around at the moment, APRE set a precedent for all emerging indie bands: don’t be scared to be a little more daring. The live set is a memorable delight, alongside the two central figures of APRE (Charlie and Jules) the touring band is completed by two additional players, assuming the pivotal roles of drummer and bassist.
With a new EP on the way and their US live debut in touching distance, we made a b-line to their recent tour with Sea Girls for a natter about all things APRE, touching on a few topical debates and glancing back to their beginnings as a band.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, firstly what’s the verdict on tonight’s venue?
Charlie: “It’s very good.”
Jules: “I like it a lot so far.”
Charlie: “It’s probably the best one we’ve had on the tour, maybe?”
[Jules replies with an “Uh Huh.”]
Charlie: “Nice amount of people but like, it will still feel quite intimate probably so it’ll be good.”
Charlotte, BSS: “That’s what I was thinking earlier, I saw Foals here [at Gorilla] last night.”
Jules: “Oh, no way! That looked like it kicked off. He [Yannis] was on the balcony about to jump off.”
Charlotte, BSS: “He did jump off…”
[Here, there’s a slight deviation into a conversation about Foals, we’ll spare you the details just know that they’re a band close to APRE’s heart.]
You’re currently touring the UK with Sea Girls, a band flying the flag for guitars and meaningful music. Do you think substance and lyrical depth are admired in this current climate?
Jules: “I think less and less because it’s just about… I think people think more about production now than they do about lyrical content.”
Charlie: “I think less but I don’t think that’s a good thing. I think maybe there could be a bit more thought into why you’re saying certain things. I think people kind of expect less – the standards, I don’t think, are super up there when it comes to words, and even melody. It’s more, kind of, about the vibe, and especially from the live point of view it’s more about the ‘feel.’ The feeling you get from the sounds rather than the actual words.”
Is it a good time to be a guitar band in the UK?
Charlie: “No. It’s terrible. I mean, like, look at the Brits. You’ve got The 1975, they’re not even really playing guitars anymore they’re just doing synth-pop. Then you’ve got… like, what new bands are at the Brits that are properly smashing it? No one.”
Jules: “Sam Fender was probably the only person.”
Charlotte, BSS: “The headlines after the Brits were more concerned with what IDLES were wearing than anything else.”
Charlie: “I mean, and even they’ve been around for like, four years/five years. Brand new bands that have come around in the last year? I don’t know any that are properly smashing it, you know? So I think it is a really difficult time. I think the likelihood of you getting any guitar music in the charts now, it’s basically impossible.”
It is widely known that you formed the band through meeting at Chess Club—
[Here, Charlie interjects to draw attention to a travel-size Chess board they have in the tour van, “We’ve got Chess here… It’s magnetic.”]
What were your impressions of each other when you first locked eyes?
Charlie: “I thought he was quite good looking.”
Charlie: “I was like, he looks decent. He looks friendly. I thought he was quite a quiet, gentle person. Now he’s turned into—“
Jules cuts in: “A diva.” [Laughs]
Charlie: “He’s got a bit more of a… a few more opinions. But nah, I thought he was good. I always thought his musical ear and ability to add those two/three extra ideas into something that just makes the whole thing work, you know? I think, like, a lot of musicians can lay down a beat or play some chords or something but I don’t think there’s loads of people that can do a few things that just make the song work, you know? That tie everything together. So that’s what I felt like when I heard him play. I thought, ‘It sounds finished now, it sounds complete.’”
Jules: “That’s very kind.
“He was very good at Chess, and er—“
Charlie cuts in: “And that’s it.”
Jules: “No. No. [Laughs]
“His production was the first thing that stood out to me because when we first started out we, kind of, hooked up in a lot of different guitar bands and then when we went to Uni together, we were playing in even more. And then, slowly but surely I, kind of, discovered Charlie’s production — and that’s the main thing I’ve learnt from him, is his skills at that.”
Charlie: “You liked the drumming, though?”
Jules: “I loved the drumming.”
In the time that you’ve been releasing music as APRE, has anything took you by surprise?
Charlie: “Everything. You know, this time last year we were playing in another band.”
Jules: “As Charlie said he was playing drums.”
Charlie: “Yeah, I was doing the drums. Jules was doing the guitar. We weren’t writing any of the songs, we were just sessioning. Did that for ages. But we were always making this on the side, and then when this actually started to get interest we didn’t really think much of it, we were like, ‘Well, it’s just a bit of fun.’ And then, like, two months later / three months later we signed, and then it all just started to step up, and then it was never meant to be, but in a way I think that’s why it is… it’s not been forced, it’s all been very natural. I think with the songwriting as well and the live show, it’s all just kind of fallen into place. And I think that’s why it feels quite real and quite honest. I think especially in the songwriting, it’s not like super-obvious indie pop. Not to blow a massive—“
Jules cuts in: “Smoke up our arse.” [Laughs]
Charlie: “I think, a happy accident, like the birth of myself.”
Jules lets out a staggered gasp: “Onto deeper things…”
What makes a good song in your opinion?
Charlie: “Melody. Great melody, I think. There’s lots of artists that I find they have great words but they’re so complex, that [they] have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. But then you’ve got other bands… you could argue that their lyrics are pretty basic but it touches you more because it’s kind of a universal thing, like everyone can get it. Everyone can feel it. And I think if you can combine that with great melody… that’s a win for me.”
Jules: “Yeah, I agree.”
Who brought the idea of coordinating your band uniforms to the table?
Jules: “That was another happy accident. At the time we were bringing in lots of time references. We had clocks in all of our photos, we had the transition from old to young people in some of the first press photos that we put out, and then we thought these red jackets, these Eighties shell suit jackets really symbolised another time which, I think, we definitely vibe from. We’ve got a lot of ‘80s influences, which we haven’t tried to do but it’s just ended up in our music and so that all, kind of, worked together — and it’s a good way for people to remember who we are as well, I think.”
Being a duo, do you ever get competitive?
Charlie: “Yeah, yeah we do. But we won’t speak about it.”
Charlie: “Nah. I think we’re quite competitive about exercise. I reckon there’s a little, small competition about who’s ran further, maybe.”
Jules: “That’ll be me. [Laughs excessively.]
Charlie: “Shut up, bruv.”
Jules: “You can cycle further though.”
Charlie: “Uhh. Yeah we do, I think.”
Jules: “I think it’s important to, though. Because otherwise you don’t ever complete anything to the highest standard because you’re always thinking in your head, ‘I didn’t like that and I wanted to get my opinion in,’ and if you don’t then…”
Charlie: “If they’re better, you wanna be better. That was like the McCartney and Lennon thing. If one wrote a better song then the other one would want to write a better song. Not that we are them. But I think, in all aspects of life it’s good to be competitive.”
Is one of you more suited to creating sonics or writing lyrics, or is it just really collaborative?
Jules: “It is pretty collaborative, I reckon. Charlie is really good with words and I like a lot of ambience and stuff like that. But generally, no. It is a pretty equal playing field across all the instruments and all the writing.”
Charlie: “We’ve written about 70 songs now, and I think that’s because… its two brains, you know? But in one. It means, you just get stuff done quicker and to a higher standard.”
The next EP is on the way soon, apparently part of a trilogy of work. As the EPs roll out they seem to be getting decisively more and more ambitious, does each EP signify something specific to you?
Charlie: “Well, I think if you look at the titles… as a collective they’ve all been about time. So we’ve had The Movement of Time, then we’ve had Drum Machines Killed Music (which is looking at that time when drum machines came around, it was also my dissertation title that I used so I wanted to use it) and then the most recent one, which is due to come out on the 29th of March, is called Everyone’s Commute. And it’s about technology and how, you know, we’ve moved on – no one’s communicating with each other anymore when we commute to work and that, and we’re all locked into our phones, stuff like that. And that’s like the song ‘Gap Year 2008,’ that came out, that’s kind of saying about the fact that we don’t really need to keep going on these stupid gap years where we go away and talk about it for ages. We should just go on a gap year where we are and come together and stop, like… get off Tinder and just actually communicate with one another, you know? So I think, if anything, all of the EPs have just tried to say something about this journey that we’re all going on, you know… maybe from the Eighties onwards because you’ve got the drum machines. So yeah. We want everything to be a journey basically and feel like it’s moved through time.”
APRE’s new single ‘Gap Year 2008’ is available to Stream/Purchase here.