When Edmonton power-pop trio Uncle Ape decided it was time to put together its first record, a lot of factors had to be considered – including the format in which it was going to be sold.
“There’s all these horror stories about bands who press 500 copies of a CD and sell five,” begins drummer Brad Holt about the band’s decision to release its debut on USB flash drives. “We didn’t want to end up with a landfill of CDs.”
Holt juggles his time between working full time, being married and playing with Edmonton indie rockers Zero Something, as well as Uncle Ape. Thankfully, his schedules have yet to conflict between his responsibilities, which is a good thing, because it seems that Holt takes on most of the band’s essential duties outside of music.
“I’m the only one in the band that drives,” Holt continues. “So, I always seem to be the one making sure we get to shows on time.”
Holt found his way into the band after responding to an Internet music forum posting. Longtime friends Scott Murray (guitar) and Travis Marcotte (bass and vocals) decided to give music another go after their previous band, Meanie Greenie and the Dance Machine, broke up – only this time they both decided to play the instruments they felt they were best at.
“Scott [Murray] played drums in [Meanie Greenie] and I actually played guitar,” explains Marcotte. “And it’s funny, because if you listen to [Uncle Ape,] you wouldn’t guess that I was a good bass player.”
Marcotte says that he simplifies his bass for two reasons: one is to better fill out the missing second guitar, an omission which seems to spark constant debate as to whether it’s needed in the band or not, and so that he can do more dynamic things with his vocals, which he feels is his stronger role.
“It’s hard to do two of anything at once,” continues Marcotte. “And I’ve been in a lot of bands where I was just the singer, so I keep the bass on autopilot to do more with the vocals and have that be the stand out things that I do.”
Also standing out is Murray’s guitar playing. Instead of taking the simple chord route most three-piece bands take to ensure a full sound, Murray plays highly technical leads throughout the Uncle Ape library, somewhere in the vein of Chris Hughes from Moneen and Wade McNeil formerly of Alexisonfire and Black Lungs.
“The sound wasn’t even a response as to what we wanted to do, it just kind of came out that way,” comments Murray. “But, it’s definitely worked for us. We kind of stumbled onto a really great scene of bands that I actually really enjoy as people and as bands.”
Uncle Ape was quickly embraced by fellow pop-rockers, Colour in Conflict, Universe Machine, and so much so by Bomb Squad Rookie that guitarist Mike Alexander has taken the band on as his first excursion into recording.
“With [Meanie Greenie], we recorded with Randor Lin and the lesson we learned was whatever [Lin] said, we just did it because he knew exactly what he was doing,” Murray says. “With [Alexander], it’s been a learning process for all of us as we go and because of that it feels way more down to business.”
The debut EP, set to have a release show on September 15 at Edmonton’s New City, doesn’t have a name yet (though the band has been kicking around the idea of Apedemic), but Marcotte has a sure-fire method of naming things that even earned the band its name to begin with.
“I just take two funny words and mash them together so they conjure up a funny image,” Marcotte confesses.
As lighthearted as most of what the band does is, it’s still out just to play music and keep having fun doing it.
“We’re just trying to do this without and gimmicks,” concludes Murray. “We’re out to be the best apes we can be.”
By Christopher Schieman