Apache Dropout interview

This interview was previously published in the May 2012 issue of Maximum Rocknroll. For a .pdf, click above.

The Apache Dropout LP was one of my top ten favorite records of 2011. I played it every day for a few months, sometimes multiple times in a row, and I still play it often…it’s just that goddamned good. I got to see them play in Berkeley, CA at perhaps one of the most poorly attended shows I’ve ever been to, but still it was really good. I didn’t interview them then. Two members visited the state for several months to learn about agriculture in California. I didn’t interview them then either. Not officially anyway – though I tend to ask questions when I talk to people as though every conversation is an interview. Eventually they left and we realized that we should have interviewed them while they were here…oh, well, thanks internet!


SCC: Does your name come from the Edgar Broughton Band single? Do you care for the other band called Apache Dropout? Did their name come from the same place? Have people ever come to your shows expecting the other Apache Dropout?

Seth: Yes. The name comes from the Edgar Broughton Band song. I’ve never met the UK band by the same name. I’m sure they’re fine people. Personally can’t really get into their sound, though. Nobody has ever come to see us and told us they were expecting the other band. I did hear that the Pandora website doesn’t’ know the difference.


SCC: The lady on the front of the Apache Dropout t-shirts is from Wisconsin Death Trip. Please explain what that is and why you chose that image.

Seth: The Wisconsin Death Trip is a fascinating book: A chilling collection of photographs and news stories from the Midwest in the late 19th century. I found the image to be particularly arresting and felt it well-represented the amplified state of Midwestern madness.

Apache Dropout, Berkeley, October 2009. Photo by Icki.

SCC: I’ve heard that you are hardcore about recording…could you talk about your recording process? It’s all analog, right? Why?

Seth: Together we run the Magnetic South Studio with John Dawson. He helps us out immensely on recording. From time to time we help him with his sprawling psych-drone band, Thee Open Sex. We record entirely analog because we feel they’re the best tools for making rock and roll records that have a true sense of urgency. We have many theories behind this aesthetic decision. One being that when I’ve been around sessions recorded on a computer, it seems the artist and engineer are doing more looking at the recording on the screen than actually listening to it.


SCC: You are currently recording another album? How will it be different from the last one? Who is putting it out?

Seth: We’re in the process of recording new stuff right now. Not sure how we’ll put it together or who will put it out just yet. One thing that’s different is we record on a different tape machine. The last album was done on an eight track with six working tracks. Since then we’ve upgraded to an eight track with seven working tracks.


SCC: There are a lot of people credited on the LP, but Apache Dropout is only a three piece. Is recording more of a larger, collaborative effort?

Seth: One of the best aspects of recording at Magnetic South Studio is that we get to record with and around our friends. There’s a lot of talented weirdos in town, so it makes sense to have them play and sing on our songs. We have played shows with slightly larger line ups; however it’s mostly just the three of us playing live. We’ve been touring in a pickup truck, so we can’t add any more members. We are hoping a tuba player will find us though. We really want to visit the world of The Seeds Future era.

Apache Dropout, Berkeley, September 2011. Photo by Icki.

SCC: You have a lot of samples on the LP. What are they from and why did you choose to use them?

Seth: Come on. You know we can’t tell you where they’re from. We used them because they are part of our mission. That is to make wildest records anyone can get. Lysergic Midwest Monsters, right?


SCC: Was it planned ahead of time or were they added as an afterthought?

Seth: Like I said, our mission in recording is to make the wildest records. Of course, I can’t give away all of our secrets. I will say that no song is really finished until it’s sitting there recorded on the mix down deck. And until then, anything is game.


SCC: Do you think somebody’s controlling the vibes?

Nathan: Absolutely. We believe that the world is being controlled by a powerful magico-economic conspiracy. Part of the reason we play rock and roll music is for the ritualistic aspect of live performance: mass ecstatic experiences like dancing and communal singing allow people to cast off whatever systems are controlling them and live freely in the moment as equals.


SCC: In “Teenager” you say, “You can’t live forever,” but in “Sam Phillips Rising” you say, “each creature never dies.” Are we going to die or not? I need to know.

Sonny: The song “Teenager” was written from the perspective of a young man who is angry enough to know that we are all going to die. I am not that teenager, but I share his anger. “Sam Phillips Rising” is a song of psychedelic gospel, and “never die” is the mantra. Sometimes you gotta talk shit with the holy ghost, so you keep sayin’ “LSD never die” till you get the spirit. We try to keep a fresh balance of gospel and blasphemy for all the heady souls rocking along.


SCC: Seth, what are the negative and positive aspects of recording a record you also play on?

Seth: It certainly isn’t ideal. For our LP John Dawson recorded the bed tracks of the band playing live. Then John and I traded off running the tape machine for the overdubs. However there weren’t many of those. We recorded it on an eight track reel to reel with just six working tracks. Playing and engineering a session creates all types of logistical problems. But James Brown said, “You gotta use what you got to get what you want”. Since then we’ve entered our mid-fi period. We’ve got a fully functional eight track and John Dawson is engineering the recordings full time.


SCC: Do you think you are more or less critical than you would be when recording a band you aren’t in?

Seth: I feel like that’s impossible for me to say. I’ve only had to yell at a band once while recording; the Nimoids from Knoxville, TN. I was working with this rock and roll madman, Will Fist. We had a Laurel and Hardy meets Kim Fowley production style. The Nimoids couldn’t get their shit together, so we got loud. Worked like Magic. Still sitting on those master tapes waiting on the right offer. It’s the most primal teenage Appalachian swagger you’ll probably never hear.

Apache Dropout, Indianapolis, May 2012

SCC: You all seem to know a lot about music. Do you all collect records?

Nathan: Yeah, that’s one of major activities on tour.


SCC: Do each of you specialize in a certain genre or do you fight over records when you find them?

Sonny: I have no problem snaking those other guys on records on tour. Nathan mostly collects ’60s world music LPs and Seth is busy digging through scratched up 45s for records that say things like “Potato Boogaloo.”

Nathan: I would clarify that it’s drone records and world folk field recordings. I snaked Seth on a VU bootleg at Permanent Records in LA most recently because John Cale played a sarangi on it. Something came over me and I just grabbed it out of his hands.


SCC: Who is the biggest music nerd in the band?

Seth: I’m from a different generation than these other guys. I was filling my record library with all the essentials while the other two were in junior high downloading Rolling Stones records in rural Indiana. So now I find all of the real killers while we’re on tour. Found the only known copy of the notorious Gorilla Milk 45 this year.

Apache Dropout, Berkeley, 2009. Photo by Icki.

SCC: How did you end up on Bloomington Cable Access? Is that a regular occurrence or just a onetime thing? (on youtube here, here, and here.)

Nathan: We just have some creative friends who asked us to do it. They work for the cable access channel and record bands whenever they get some free time. It would have been really cool except we are all real paranoid about cameras and bright lights. It seems like there’s a lot of video documentation of the band but we mostly turn out all the lights when we play so we’ve been able to at least take away some of that ever-peering eye’s de-mystifying power.


SCC: Seth, you look very casual playing drums. Do you feel relaxed when you do it? Do you get nervous when you play in front of people?

Seth: It is often an experience that is both relaxing and nerve wrecking.


2 Responses to “Apache Dropout interview”

  1. 1 ned lates
    October 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    no wildlife (nonhuman) questions (or information)?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


it's this or get a real job

strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

March of the Fossil Penguins

Fossil penguin discoveries and research

casual friday

refreshingly unprofessional

Gowrishankar's Blog

King cobra - Research & Education

Shit You Didn't Know About Biology

Unrepentantly celebratory insights into life on Earth's under-appreciated, under-acknowledged, and utterly amazing stories

Canderson Click

a canderscopic extravaganza

Why Evolution Is True

Why Evolution is True is a blog written by Jerry Coyne, centered on evolution and biology but also dealing with diverse topics like politics, culture, and cats.

%d bloggers like this: