The Winnipeg-based instrumental group Apollo Suns have just announced tours of eastern Canada in May and June, and western Canada in July. They’ll get this tour off to a great start with an appearance during Canadian Music Week in Toronto (on 11 May) before heading off to multiple locations in Ontario, Québec, and the East Coast.
Born from the fusing of six uniquely talented Winnipeg, Canada based musicians, Apollo Suns have created a refreshing and innovative sound combining instrumental, rock, jazz and experimental music with an end goal of maintaining an overall accessible and catchy track for listeners of all kinds. Apollo Suns began in 2014 following the deconstruction of Ed Durocher (guitar) and Dave Guenette’s (bass) previous band Electric Soul.
Some of their most notable shows include support slots for Mariachi Ghost, Five Alarm Funk, The Brooks and Bend Sinister; as well as showcases at Canadian Music Week, Golden Sound Music Festival, Festival Du Voyageur and Winnipeg Fringe Festival.
Apollo Suns first came to our ears with their 2017 album “Each Day a Different Sun” (thanks to a link on Manitoba Music’s website), an album that demonstrates the group’s eclectic and unique sound (and one of the best mashups of music theme songs I’ve heard in a good long while). We’re thrilled to get the chance to talk about the tour with Ed Durocher.
For those who perhaps aren’t yet familiar with your music, how would you describe it? For example, are there four or five bands or albums who have influenced your sound?
Well we call ourselves “Psychedelic Jazz Rock” since it seemed to make the most since when we started. Although “jazz” is a funny word for some people. I have gotten the impression that since we are instrumental and don’t play in the style like “post-rock” they go to the “jazz” place. I never thought we were a straight up jazz band but there is for sure that influence. Same with “prog rock,” our songs can be close to 10 minutes going from theme to theme so that can be a heavy listening experience for some.
When we started we were only a four piece but now we just hit 9 players with 7 of them on the road. It’s getting out of control haha I don’t know what you would call us now though. Maybe I can send you some new material and you can call the genre, I think “Adventure Rock” was an option…… too obnoxious? (Ed. note: Not too obnoxious at all – you send it, we’ll let you know if Adventure Rock fits!)
As for the top 5 bands or albums…..well, I would go with Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic”, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”, Frank Zappa’s “One Size Fits All”, Snarky Puppy’s “We lIke it Here” and Pink Floyd’s “Meddle.”
The group is comprised of seven musicians, I think? Can you tell us a bit about each of you?
The hometown band with horns and all is a comfortable 8 piece, sometimes 9. On the road we are usually a 7 piece. I think it is important to rep the band properly on the road, playing to all new people. We have recently started hiring one-off players in each city as well. Makes for an exciting night!
As for the band there is Eddie Durocher (Guitar) and Dave Guenette (Bass) as the “founding” members and they have been playing music in various projects over the last 8 years. It was a project called The Electric Soul Orchestra that acted as the launch pad for Apollo Suns.
Ethan McKibben (Drums) is a long standing brother in arms and is a leading force musically. He is a very musically minded player which makes it very exciting. Anatol Rennie (Keys), Aaron Bartel (Alto Sax), Paul Klassen (Percussion) and Philip Collins (Trumpet) are all University trained Jazzers and they are all killer players. Most of these guys I have known about for a while and they came highly recommended from other players. It’s great. We get to jam with some killer players. We also have some new additions to the band with Anthony Bryson (Trombone) and he is from Ohio but is studying in Winnipeg, killer player! And Anna Blackmore (Bari Sax) who is a friend of Aaron’s and Anthony’s and she came recommended as well.
We have a couple of rotating horn players and guests as well. We have collaborated with many players and we try to make every show special. I think in total we have a total of about 20 players that know our tunes. A couple of the touring members are different as well… it can be challenging to schedule but it comes with the territory.
You have a pretty extensive tour planned, both of eastern and western Canada, including a stop at Canadian Music Week. Are there any dates to which you’re especially looking forward?
The west has always been so kind to us so I’m very much looking forward to seeing some friendly faces. We also have some big festivals we are playing out there as well which is very exciting. Calgary, Vernon, Red Deer have always been killer shows for us, it’s funny where your big shows come from.
This will be our first time out East but already we have been getting great response and heavy play on some colleges like Guelph, Windsor, Fredericton, Halifax, Saint Johns as well as others of course. We could talk forever about all the places we are looking forward to playing/experiencing but so far the excitement seems pretty cool. Some great bands we get to share the stages with as well!
Your music encompasses several genres – do you find a particular type of music fan gravitating to your live shows, or do you see fans of a variety of genres?
It’s kind of all over the place from where our fan base comes from. I find it has been all types really from hardcore active listeners to people who want to party and dance all night. I love the people who want to talk about theory and gear and how we wrote a certain song/music influences on a certain piece of music. We also love seeing sweaty bodies and smiling faces too.
It is also very interesting hearing about what people think we sound like…. One guy said we sounded like an instrumental 1982 Prince…..
This isn’t a chat about your album per se, but I do want to ask: what inspired the rather fun mashup of themes in “The Impossible Bond”?
The song and concept kind of started a s a joke and a mash up that we really dig playing live. Then when we were releasing “Each Day a Different Sun” we talked about which song to make a music video for and it just made so much sense to have “An Impossible Bond”. It had everything for us, the spoof, the fun music, people easily recognize the tune and really dig the arrangement.
And then we started making the video and it grew and grew. The crew was amazing and put in such hard work. It was very stressful but also lots and lots of fun. I guess we have to make every video as good as that now!
Following this tour, any plans to go back into the studio?
Yes! We have actually recorded lots of new music over the last couple months and working towards a release in Spring of 2019. We are also working on touring the US with the next release and that is very exciting as America has some of my favourite bands on all levels!
So….lots of good things coming soon and we are really getting pumped up to share some music with you guys.
Photo credit: Mike Sudoma
TOUR DATES – Spring 2018
May 3 – Winnipeg, MB – The Good Will
May 11 – Toronto, ON – CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK
May 25 – Thunder Bay, ON – The Foundry
May 26 – Toronto, ON – Back Alley
May 27 – Windsor, ON – Phog Lounge
May 29 – Hamilton, ON – This Ain’t Hollywood
May 30 – Toronto, ON – Smiling Buddha
May 31 – Guelph, ON – DSTRCT
June 1 – Pembroke, ON – The Lasso
June 2 – St. Catherine’s, ON – The Detour Music Hall
June 5 – Kingston, ON – Mussikki Café
June 6 – Oshawa, ON – The Atria
June 7 – Ottawa, ON – The House of TARG
June 8 – Chesterville, ON – McClosky’s Tavern
June 9 – Montreal, QC – Barfly
June 11 – Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle
June 12 – Moncton, NB – Plan B Lounge
June 13 – Saint Andrews, NB – The Red Herring
June 14 – St. John’s, NS – Pub Down Under
June 15 – Fredericton, NB – Grimross Brewery
June 16 – Halifax, NS – Bearly’s Pub
June 17 – Charlottetown, PEI – Baba’s Lounge