Brothers Charlie and Jules of APRE chat to Leeds Living’s Charlotte Staunton Gill, about why they love Leeds (over a few other cities), what it takes to be touring musicians and why they have chosen to do a mini album for their upcoming release of “Always in my Head” .
How has lockdown treated you and did you fulfil any cliches? I bought a bike and downloaded a Couch to 5k so that was my lockdown cliche…
We bought bikes and got into exercise – drinking has been a good one – and baked a lot.
What’s it like making music with your sibling? Have you grown up with the same reference points for music?
J: It means we argue a lot. I think we have similar music tastes, so that’s made it easier.
C:He listens to some shocking music. We like very different music. (continues to argue about music taste).
J: We grew up knowing The Beatles, Tears for Fears (a great duo) and our dad is a huge Led Zeppelin fan.
Your songs are very affirming. They hype you up when you listen to them, and have a swagger about them. How do you channel that when writing?
J: I think what’s quite nice is we never write with an agenda. Naturally we like upbeat music, and poppy stuff. We never sit down and set out to write a song a certain way. Our releases can be in so many different genres. We’ll never sit and think ‘let’s write an upbeat one today’.
C: At the end of a song you can kinda gauge who will like it, but it wouldn’t be a true honest thing; it would end up clinical and fake if you write thinking ‘this is what fans want’.
J: It sounds selfish but you will only write good music that you’re excited about if you’re writing for yourself. If you change something just because you think your fans will like it, then you’ve screwed up.
C: You don’t want to end up playing a song every night on tour for 3 months straight that you don’t like.
You are one of the lucky bands that managed to get a tour in before COVID put us all on pause. Reflecting back on that tour, how do you feel future shows will be different?
J: It comes in waves because when we are on tour, part of us wants to be in the studio and when we’re in the studio we’re wanting to be on tour. It’s been so long since we’ve been on tour now that we’re itching to get out there.
C: The future of touring, it’s scary, to think of the smaller venues having to do half capacity whilst trying to pay their staff/band etc. Are bands going to want to tour to half empty rooms when the vibe is going to be crap and there’s a chance you won’t be making any money? A lot of smaller venues’ tours are self funded if the band isn’t with labels. Eventually, it’ll be a new normal of washing your hands, not standing near each other, no mosh pits.
Watching the Scala videos from before lockdown, I went into the crowd. My grandma was there who’s in her 80’s.
On your headline tour you visited Hyde Park Club in Leeds. What springs to mind when you think of Leeds?
J: When I think of Leeds I think Leeds, I think of the gig at Hyde Park Book Club; we got drunk and decided to change our set list. We thought it was the best idea ever. We even played Dreamworld in the middle of the set. When we got on stage we thought oh fuck. It was not our best set list.
C: Having been all over the UK I think a lot of it is a dump, and I’d say Leeds isn’t. It’s lovely, it’s viby and there’s lots of hills.
You recently announced the release of a “mini album” “Always in my Head”…this comes after a handful of EPs. What makes you prefer more condensed pieces of work rather than full albums?
C: Eps are a body of work. I feel like everyone puts out a single every four months and just tries to plug the shit out of it. Maybe they’ve only written one song? We’ve written over 100 songs and there’s some that have been written over a certain time that just all fit together and speak of the same thing and I think it’s nice to have something that has more of a story rather than just the one track. It feels more powerful and meaningful to people.
I much prefer to receive a body of work when listening to music, I’m more of an album person than a playlist. If I’m going to invest in a band there’s more to songwriters than just the single they put out.
There’s bands who have 2millions streams and they have 2 songs out.
J: I think artists who put out 22 songs are a bit much, so don’t give us 1 song but also not 22; give us 12 bangers because you’ve perfected those 12 songs.
How do you feel about having music out in a physical form, like vinyl and cassette? How do you feel people consume it over streaming?
J : The mini album is going to be released on vinyl and cassette. With those ways of listening to music you’re investing in the full thing – you can’t skip a track. You’re going to listen to the full vinyl. It’s a purer way of listening to it.
C: If you give me a vinyl it’s a bike with wheels. It takes you on a journey and can captivate your mind.
J: Streaming services are a necessary evil; you learn to accept it. I don’t like moaning about streaming because I do listen on Apple Music.
C: In terms of being a new act and wanting people to listen to your music it’s a phenomenal way. In terms of making money from it, it’s shocking. If you get on playlists and are backed by a streaming service, which we’ve been lucky with that, the amount of people I’ve met at gigs and they’ve told us how they heard us from the Indie List or indie pop, that’s the way people find new music. You can spend time making music videos but people rarely say they discovered you through that over streaming playlists.
J: You’re not going to get fans if you don’t put it out on streaming. You would need millions of streams to make money purely off streaming. The main revenue will be from live touring.
Artist Lewis Watson spoke out a few years ago how he made more money from working in part time retail then he did from music. What advice would you give music makers to ensure that they can make a successful career?
J: I think the best way to make music a career is to learn production yourself; to be your own studio and in control. We do everything ourselves and realise that is a massive advantage.
C: If you’re good enough you shouldn’t have to put your own money into it. Just make sure you’re writing good songs. You don’t need fancy clothes, just good music. Write some good songs and stop wasting money on expensive shoes and producers that can mug you off.
People’s ideas are often so far from what you actually have to do as musicians. We spent four years writing every single day, and we wouldn’t consider us a huge band yet.
Go write 100 songs; perfect the art. It needs to be your life. You have to live and breathe what you’re saying; you can’t be full of shit because people will see through you.
J: We both wanted to be musicians. We started writing together and it just worked. We never had an agenda. Always quite artistic and our parents were really encouraging.
C: We always thought Jools was going to be a tennis guy, then he got quite good at guitar and I was playing drums. We did other bands, like seven other bands and they all flopped. Some would nearly get there and just didn’t. We would jam together and the songs just sounded better than our other bands we played with. We had a good message and could back up what we were saying. Every band that’s ever been something has good songs.
APRE’s talent, combined with their self-perception and work ethic, certainly seem to create a recipe for success. Let’s hope it won’t be too long before they can play to full audiences again.