Golden Apples share new song, talk influences behind new s/t LP
Philly's Golden Apples began as the solo project of Russell Edling (Cherry) before expanding into a full band that includes drummer Pat Conaboy (Kite Party, Sun Organ, Spirit of the Beehive), bassist Tim Jordan (Kite Party, Sun Organ, Lowercase Roses), guitarist/vocalist Mimi Gallagher (Nona, Eight, Cave People), guitarist Matt Scheuermann (Lowercase Roses), and engineer/multi-instrumentalist Matt Schimelfenig (Gladie, Sun Organ, Three Man Cannon), and this expanded lineup is gearing up to release their self-titled sophomore album on April 29 via Lame-O Records (pre-order). We're premiering third single "Let Me Do My Thing," which puts a slightly psychedelic spin on scrappy, lo-fi, '90s-style jangle pop that should appeal to fans of anything from Pavement to Elephant Six to early Modest Mouse, and you can hear some of those bands' classic '60s folk/pop influences coming through too. Listen below.
On the topic of influences, Russell made us a list of 10 things that inspired this new album, two of which are musicians (Arthur Russell and Stereolab), but most of which are not. Check out his list with commentary on each pick below.
GOLDEN APPLES INSPIRATIONS
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
As someone who has struggled with suicidal ideation intermittently throughout most of my life, reading this book (at the recommendation of my friend Dave) was both challenging and also extremely validating. I have found so few moments in my experience where it actually feels safe to talk about or think about suicide openly, and this book created an environment in which I felt allowed to examine those thoughts and feelings without alarming anyone. The book opens with an argument that the only worthy philosophical question that anyone can ask themselves is whether ot not to commit suicide, and this is because the human condition is absurd; we spend our lives living for tomorrow but it is tomorrow that brings us closer to death. The relief, and avoidance of suicide comes in the ability to accept the absurdity. Once we can accept and expect the absurdity of all life, the fear and misery of existing is perhaps disarmed. This idea was central to me in a lot of the songs, wavering between moments of despair and moments of humor at the whole thing. There are a lot of fairly dumb images and ideas in some of these songs, and some of the songs themselves are a bit goofy. I haven’t figured out how seriously I want to take anything yet, and honestly what does it matter?
Artist Helen Frankenthaler
I first learned about Helen Frankenthaler in college and what fascinated me then about her work was her contribution to the conversation about the artist’s involvement in creating the painting. This idea that painters could use a brush on a canvas, or perhaps they could throw paint on the canvas, collage on it, have a machine lay the colors on it, etc. Frankenthaler’s idea was to almost let the paint just do its thing by pooling lots of paint on the canvas and let it blur and smear and soak throughout, creating textures and movement in a way that was unique. I recently read a biography of her by Alexander Nemerov that reignited my fascination with her work and life. Her impulsiveness and her dedication to her beliefs struck me. It was inspiring to read about someone struggling to make something that resonated personally as well as externally. I found myself thinking a lot about music and community and all the spheres of influence we are all tethered to constantly, and I suppose ultimately I felt a sense of permission to make whatever I wanted.
Local Radio Stations
Something that has been tremendously inspiring to me over the last year has been listening to more local radio stations. I had been a Spotify user since probably 2012 or '13, and rarely listened to local radio for music. Eventually I had enough of Spotify (my dad also hates it), and started seeking music elsewhere. Definitely began buying way more records but also started tuning into radio stations like WPRB, WKDU, WFMU, WXPN, etc. My friend Frances always reminds me to tune into Rhythm Revue on Saturdays on WBGO. It is just incredible how thoughtfully curated music playlists can be. Especially some of these stations where the programs will have themes. I think I listen to WPRB the most, but overall I have found some truly great songs through these stations. I hope they accept cassette tapes..
I have a notes document on my phone where I list out all the heaters. Maybe if the streaming services pay artists fairly one day I will re-engage, but I think I am doing fine without them. Here’s one near the top of my list:
In addition to years and years of therapy, meditation has been a huge help with all my brain stuff. I do a lot of mindfulness meditation. The song “Secret Life” from the self-titled record is sort of about meditation, finding levels within yourself, and being able to escape your own head sometimes. Breathing and just accepting things. Again the absurdity idea comes into play. I think acceptance and allowing comes naturally to some people, but it is something that I really struggle with; I am always trying to control everything. With this record, I definitely stepped back and let the rest of the people involved in the project influence it a lot. With previous albums I was very particular about every single detail.
What I admire about Arthur Russell’s music is its ability to move between pop songs and more artful abstractions. I really believe that people have the capacity to exist in so many different worlds, whether that is emotionally, spiritually, artistically, whatever. Maybe it is something I need to continue to push in my own music, but I know I have a lot of good role models out there.
I am re-invigorated and recharged every time I listen to this band. There are so many records too you can just jump in anywhere and it is always so good. I love how they build their songs up and sort of layer things in and out. I imagine robot arms bringing in new instruments and layering things together to build the songs. There is a mechanical element to their music that I like a lot, and it makes me think of Neu!, Can, but also more contemporary indie bands like the Notwist and Yo La Tengo. I love this video of them playing live very much:
Artist Craig Scheihing
Craig has been a friend and collaborator for years. He has made music videos for a few of my songs, but our conversations are always so inspiring as well. Talking about art and friendships and music, traveling and depression, whatever comes up. I was driving in a car with him and we were talking about how a “band” is kind of a life art project. For me, making a record is never just about writing a bunch of songs. It is also making visual art for the songs, recording them, laying in all kinds of other sounds and emotions, writing lyrics, expending so much energy and emotion into something. And then ultimately releasing it, sharing it with friends, ending up in social situations and performing in a number of ways. It can be both destructive and constructive. I think this practice of making your whole life an art project is something Craig does instinctively, and spending even a few minutes with him always fills my head with new ideas and motivation. He also enjoys listening to WPRB (New Jersey’s ONLY radio station).
mexico diary from Craig Scheihing on Vimeo.
Absence of people, places, relationships, feelings, safety, etc. makes me want to write songs. In a song I can be wherever I want with whoever I want saying whatever I want. I often use songwriting as a way to escape or imagine alternate scenarios and realities. It seems like losing something is a way to remember its shape and size. Queue “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.
Lester Bangs: Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
This is a book I have been reading off and on for years, since I was in high school and borrowed it from my sister’s boyfriend (now husband). Every time I dig back in or start to reread I am fascinated by how Lester Bangs obsessively devours music. How it seems to color in his whole life. When he talks about records, he ends up talking about his childhood and ways in which the themes of (for example) the Stooges have played across his own experience. That sort of holistic perception of music is a lot like how I feel about it too. I am always thinking about it, about songs, about textures and ideas. Lately I have been trying to understand how to separate my personal stories with the stories I tell in music, but I think with Golden Apples I certainly leaned into authenticity and vulnerability more. Also I am certain Lester would think my music is complete trash. It is fun to think about the expletives he might string together.
This is not the magazine. I think in the last few years I have made a lot of changes in my life to allow me more time to dedicate to working on music. Sometimes when I would think about it, it would occur to me that I put so little actual time into writing. I would think about music all the time, and always be sort of passively pushing things forward, but now more than ever I put actual time into it constantly. I could still work way more, and I hope to continue in that trajectory. Maybe its been the pandemic and all the major disturbances of well-being and safety, but I have been trying to be more deliberate about how I want to spend my life. It can be very easy to be swept away with the momentum of things and other people, work or whatever.