► Build from the Ground Up” has recently just been released and is the first single from your upcoming album. Were you nervous at all about finally getting it out and letting your fans get a taste of the new album?
Gerry Norman: Yeah bricking it really but we had previously received very positive reviews from everyone involved and people advising us so we were pretty confident that APRmy would like it. We’ve played it a few times live too and the guys go nuts up the front jumping round getting their bellies out and sweating buckets so it was well road tested. It was always a serious contender for 1st single because of the sheer power throughout and that people could relate to the lyrics and sing along with pride. A lot of people think it’s about the recession and London riots which isn’t true but I can see how they’d think that and if that’s what they want to take then by all means do, as long as you feel a connection with it that’s all that matters. It’s about digging deep and never giving up even after all your sacrifices and everything you’ve ever worked for explodes in your face. But when you think about it, it’s quite an uplifting wee tune and one we felt was a good taster of things to come.
► How did the recording process for the new album go?
Piece of piss it was….Nah man it was killer but we knew what we had to do and that involved a lot of work but sure we’re not afraid of that. It took about a year from when we first demoed the potential album tracks to when we had the final masters but the album was 7 years in the making as I wrote one of the songs when I lived in Edinburgh in 2005. Crazy when I think about it. After months of home demoing we spent a week in the Mojo Mansion with Thomas Camblin (The Promise Notes) to pre-record which is pretty much trying to make our tunes a little more super awesome-sauce and after that we were ready for the sexy studio. We had a few demands for our label when it came to the studio: we needed a pool table, leather couches, xbox, all sky channels inc. adult channels and a farm. Luckily Manor Park in Toome fit all our requirements so we kipped there for a couple of weeks, ran with cows, watched a full season of Two and a Half Men and pretty much drove ourselves mental coming up with new ways to play pool until the album was done. It was important to us that we went crazy as we knew the album would benefit, it worked.
► A lot of people have said that your latest single had a more of an intense feel compared to previous tracks. Is that the kind of direction you feel the band is moving towards?
I think all our songs are pretty intense so I don’t feel we’ve changed much but we have grown up a bit. This song in particular is a series of fairly intense statements which refer to cities and buildings burning which in turn results in the death of hundreds, if not thousands or millions of innocent people if it were to really happen so I can see what ya mean by intense. (we also burn Belfast City hospital in the video) Maybe insane is more accurate. Come to think of it I was in a pretty bad mood when I wrote that song and that aggression shows (I fairly took it out on the drum kit that day) Deep down we’re all angry little elves channelling this fury through our music which allows us to be so happy when you see us play. We take our song writing very seriously and rarely write happy or positive tunes but when people see us we’re always smiling and taking the piss so maybe the audience think our lyrics are light hearted. That’s not a problem at all since the album sleeve comes with lyrics so you can now divulge deeper into our brains. It’s not pretty, bring a change of clothes. There’s a lot of death and anger in here but all from the personal experiences that affect us deeply. We’re very honest almost to the point of awkwardness.
► With so much anticipation for the new record, what should people expect from the album?
Aural pornography for 45mins! Nah, I think people will be surprised by the whole album in that we didn’t really stick to one kind of song or sound so each song is different in its own way. There’s a bit of everything from massive distorted choruses to screaming to radio friendly to no-fuckin-radio-station-in-the-world-will-play-this to melodic, quiet, piano based songs to stripped back acoustic songs. We never set rules for song writing so our debut album was always gonna come out this way but the important thing was how we balanced it and I think we got that spot on. We could have had an album full of power pop rock tunes as we’re good at those but that would have bored us so songs like ‘Colour Blue’ didn’t make the final cut to leave space for a different type of song. Our favourite albums like Nevermind, The Bends, Puzzle, The Colour and the Shape all stuck to these structures so we wanted to do the same. We’ve never been afraid to do what we want to do and we think people will respect us for that when they hear it. An album shouldn’t full of singles, it should be a journey and we look forward to taking our fans on our biggest one yet.
► The band has had a great few months, headlining the Ulster Hall and a Stage at Tennant’s Vital. Furthermore you’ve played to massive crowds supporting Snow Patrol at the Odyssey and the 02 Arena in London. Do you have any particular highlights from these shows?
Yeah we’ve had an amazing few months and feel like all our hard work is finally starting to pay off by sharing the stage with world renowned acts. All those shows were great but for obvious reasons the Snow Patrol shows had the big highlights. We’ve never even been to the O2 Arena so standing on that stage playing to thousands of screaming SP fans was an incredible moment. Personally having all my family over was a highlight as they’ve all been so supportive since I started this ridiculous journey so it was my chance to thank them for all their loyalty. Gary Lightbody sucking my neck backstage under the curtain was cool too. Oh wait, no that didn’t happen (I’ve been having weird dreams since). Seriously though Gary and the lads were amazing to us and have opened a few doors so I hope we do them proud. He got the whole crowd in Belfast to chant ‘A Plastic Rose’ which was amazing because the Odyssey broke its attendance record that night. He also told the London crowd that we’re going to be massive which was sweet. This is all very strange as I have been massive SP fans the past 9 years.
► Having played T-Vital last year and the headliners for the main stage just announced, if you could chose NI bands to fill the rest of the bill on the main stage who would they be?
Oh lemme see. The Stone Roses and Florence should get Colenso Parade to open with Katie and the Carnival on after. Stick More Than Conquerors, Kasper Rosa or Seven Summits in the middle to shake it up a bit sure why not? Obviously APR would be the filling of the Foo Fighter/Black Keys sandwich. The Minutes have been announced too which is sweet because I promoted a show for them here last year and they were amazing. I’ll keep this one rocking and get The Rupture Dogs on but not before abandcalledboy rip the stage up. Stick Colly Strings in there too or LaFaro but ya don’t wana show the Foo’s up so maybe leave LaFaro out.
► You’ve been the figurehead of the “Save BBC Introducing Campaign”, holding street concerts and personally bringing the petition to London. How important do you feel the service is and are there any updates on your progress?
It’s not looking too good mate to be honest so all our efforts may have been in vain but it was worth a try. I think its super important to any scene and to lose it will be a real shame as so many bands get their first taste of major radio play on the show. Look, it’s not the end of the world and we shouldn’t let it get to us but I still felt it was a cause worth fighting for since not only has the show been so good to APR (Reading and Leeds BABY!) but I’m very good friends with the whole Introducing NI team now so I felt I was in a position to lead the way. The whole campaign brought musicians together and united us all so I’m delighted to have been a part of it. The buskathon was incredible, I could have taken a hand-out from a company who offered to donate the money but I rejected it in favour of local musicians busking for it. I love that. Being in Westminster and holding meetings with the head of BBC was a little surreal. Hey it’s not over yet so fingers crossed.
► The Northern Irish music scene has been blossoming of late, is there any particular new acts that have caught your eye?
Yeah there are a few great wee bands kicking about that I’m loving. Saw those wee girls from Derry ‘Puerile Honey’ and I thought they were amazing, can’t wait to see them again. Elspeth are sitting on an amazing album that people are gonna freak out when they hear. Pretty Child Backfire has grown into an amazing band. Joshua Burnside is an up and comer who plays with Nieve Carberry on harp which is definitely worth checking out if you like your Americana singer/songwriter tunes. Master and Dogs second album is gonna be brilliant. Havana House Party are awesome too. Here’s a few more Best Boy Grip, Dirty Kansas, Sons of Cailbre, Southern, Bomb City 7….I could go on.
► Looking forward, does the band have any shows planned for the summer?
WELL…..we’ve just signed with one of the biggest booking agencies in the UK so we’ll be announcing a hell of a lot of shows to keep us busy for the rest of the year which is super exciting but we can’t announce any yet. We can say that we’ll be headlining our first G Session in The Cellar Bar Draperstown Apr 14th with Kasper Rosa and Seven Summits which is the best line-up EVER so there’s one I can give. All I’ll say is watch this space!