The Apathy Eulogy interview
August 17, 2007
By Eric Pettersson
Eric Pettersson, IVM: Name and what you do in the band.
Rob Kelly, TAE: Rob Kelly, I play guitar, sing, and write the music.
E: So I heard you got into Alternative Press. Did they dig it?
R: Yeah, from what we heard. We didn’t get an official interview. We actually got mentioned as an unsigned band. They choose I believe it’s 8 bands a month that are notable unsigned bands, and they found us on Smartpunk which is our online vendor, and just asked us if we wanted to be featured. It’s pretty rad. We got compared to Dashboard Confessional, Guster, and Something Corporate.
E: Now you’re playing on the Mono Vs. Stereo New Band Showcase stage [tonight at Purple Door]. You got second place in a battle of the bands or something like that?
R: Well, the way that works is it was a contest that Mono Vs. Stereo had. I don’t think it was a battle of the bands. It was a submission, bio, and an essay of basically like why you should be chosen, and we were chosen out of however many bands submitted as one of three winners to play on the stage, mostly by the sound of our CD.
E: When I first saw you, you had three members, now you have five. Why the line-up change?
R: Ben and I had some personal differences, a falling out, but it centered around, his reason for leaving was more around work and school. We were starting to up our commitment level and our time and things got really crazy, and he just didn’t have the time and the energy to keep up with what we wanted to do, so he bowed out then. So we got John. Keyboards really I feel like added a real production type, added a lot of energy to the set. Adding bass was just a logical next step because it bottoms everything out and makes it a little bit more full.
E: Alright, so how’s the whole new line-up working?
R: Pretty good. We might be experiencing, we’re not really sure, another change in the future, because when John originally joined the band, it was definitely a good match for us, but we’re not sure that if we do end up signing a major record deal sometime in the future (hush, hush, zip zip the lip), if that does occur, then we’re not sure that John is down for full time touring and the aggressive commitment that that’s gonna entail, so as of right now we’re keeping options open in case some changes need to be made, but it’s nothing bad at all on a personal level, we’re all getting along great.
E: Do you write differently now? How does a typical jam hit come to life for you guys?
R: Typically speaking, The Apathy Eulogy started with just me playing acoustic songs at coffee houses, and so because of that I wrote the whole song in my head and then performed it, and then adding one member at a time didn’t really change the evolution of our writing process. For the most part, I write the songs, all the different parts, and then each member adds their own flavor. John has a really sweet voice, very breathy, but still able to be forceful and his register is really good, especially with the falsetto, and that’s become something that’s really influenced the vocals because he’ll take a melody that I write and he’ll just express it much better, so it all helps. Everyone has their own little incentive to add, but for the most part I write all the songs.
E: Where do you find is the best environment to write lyrics?
R: I often write from emotion, and the only good stuff I write is from pure emotion. So if I write something potentially sitting down to write a song, it comes out as crap. So I have to be inspired, normally by sincere heartfelt emotions. And so I either A: try to draw from a personal experience or a relationship of any kind, either with God, family, or a girl (surprise, surprise). But I can also use situations like nature and go out and sit out on a lake or the reservoir or Loch Raven in Baltimore, and take everything in and let it hit me.
E: Your new CD, which came out in April, was called Beauty for Ashes. Why’d you call it that?
R: It’s actually a scriptural reference to a Bible verse and the whole concept of it (and the album art corresponds with it) is the idea of having something that is totally dead, the ashes, totally devoid of any kind of life and having it turn into something beautiful. If you open up the CD art, it’s on the outside all the colors are desaturated. When you open it up everything comes to life and the flowers grow out and it’s in bright, almost neon colors. And so we wanted to kind of paint like a picture through that album title and also through the art of something old and dead being made new. There’s a lot of symbolism that it could apply to, but I think you know where I’m going with it…
E: Yeah. How did fans and critics react to the new record?
R: For the most part, we’ve gotten favorable response. Like I said to AP Magazine when they asked me, no one has ever really accused us of being unoriginal. We do see some negative commentary, most of our negative commentary would be centered around the fact that our songs are kind of poppy, you know, the catchy, happy-go-lucky sound. For the most part we’ve gotten a majority of positive responses.
E: I don’t know if you can talk about this at this point, but is there any label interest yet?
R: Umm, I don’t know if I can talk about this at this point. (laughs)
E: Okay, do you want me to completely strike that out or…
R: No, I think it’s alright to mention it but I think for the most part we haven’t made any commitment, but we’re definitely in the process of… You can say this if you want: the trouble is that we all have full time jobs and so for us, without trying to sound completely snotty, it’s either all or nothing. We can’t really afford to go to too small of a deal because if we can’t quit our jobs and still be able to pay the mortgage then it’s not going to work for us, so we kind of have to hold out.
E: Why should anyone buy your CD and where can they find it?
R: As of right now it’s available for sale at all of our shows for $5, which is bonus price for a nine track CD of pure acoustic wholesome goodness. You can find it on Smartpunk.com for $8 plus shipping. Pretty soon we’re signing a contract with Mud Hut to digitally release it on iTunes. And as of right now, that’s a pretty big step for us, you know, doing everything ourselves, DIY. But you know, if something happens down the road, we might go to a more aggressive distribution plan for selling it.
E: So you’re touring a lot?
R: We just finished up a three and a half week tour, went as far south as Florida, as far north as upstate New York and we went all the way out to Illinois. So we did quite a few states and quite a few areas and it was our most successful tour to date for being by ourselves. We toured with a band called Aniston, from North Carolina, really good guys, check them out.
E: Tell me about a time recently when you’ve been able to use your position in this band to show God’s love to someone.
R: It’s funny you should ask that because we’ve actually had a lot of those opportunities. And most of the time it happens on a one on one type circumstance. We don’t actually use our band as an evangelistic band, we don’t call ourselves a Christian band with the goal of entertaining Christian kids. Our goal is to make positive music that really reflects who we are as people and emotively can touch people’s lives, and we find that through conversations that develop mostly from talking and meeting fans that we have opportunities to either be an example or to share and affect people. We were in Lynchburg, Virginia and I had a chance to talk to a young guy who was really struggling with some issues of depression and he said that he listened to the song “Be My Rescue,” and it really struck a chord with him and he felt like for him personally it was a good way… it painted for him a picture of his goal, of how he should be dealing with it. And just sitting down and having those one on one conversations is kind of like a treasurable moment. It’s more our niche, to be real, to be who we are, to express ourselves in art, and then once people can trust and respect that, then we can have deeper conversations and really reach them where they’re at.
E: Cool. I’ve got some fun ones now. What’d you think of the Simpsons’ Movie?
R: I haven’t seen it, and I really want to. Mitch told me it was hilarious. I spent my last $9 on The Bourne Ultimatum, which was phenomenal.
E: Which band member is best at Halo?
R: Ohhh… I would say probably Mitch. I’m really pretty good at Rainbow Six Vegas, on 360, and I definitely own everybody else on Guitar Hero. Definitely.
E: Do any of you have any secret talents or gift?
R: Mitch can do an awesome impression of a velociraptor, shrieking and all.
E: Lastly, when I say “Rock,” you think…
E: Thanks, anything else?
R: No man, thanks so much.
E: Alright, thanks.
Thanks to Rob for taking the time to do this on a busy (and probably stressful) night, right before preparing to go on stage at Purple Door (which was a super-fun performance, by the way). To everyone else, more info on The Apathy Eulogy can be found here at their myspace.