The Apache Relay - Photo by Melissa Madison Fuller

The Apache Relay at Howiee's

"It's definitely a departure from our past stuff," says Ben Ford, guitarist for The Apache Relay, about the group's new, self-titled album. The Nashville rock band — which, in addition to Ford, features Michael Ford Jr. on vocals, guitarist Mike Harris, Brett Moore on keys, guitar and mandolin, Kellen Wenrich on fiddle and keys and drummer Stephen Smith — will play at 9 p.m. Friday, March 28, at Howiee's on Front, 16 N. Front St., Medford. The Soil & The Sun and The Lonely Wild will open the free show.

The band spent three months writing and recording "Apache Relay" at Fairfax Recordings (formerly the famed Sound City) with producer Kevin Augunas.

"A lot of it came together in the studio," Ford says. "We ended up basically breaking down the songs to their most basic form with just guitars and vocals and we built it up from there."

Ford says the band tried to focus on simplicity with their song structures under Augunas' suggestions.

"He was a big advocate for simple but clever melodies," Ford says. "He would always refer to nursery rhymes. In his mind, he heard the melody that simple."

The band was drawn to Augunas — who has produced albums by bands that include Cold War Kids, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Nick Waterhouse — because of the recording aesthetics that he uses, such as minimal microphone placement on drums, using string arrangements and recording everything analog rather than digitally. Ford says that this gave the album an old-school feel.

While Ford Jr. is the main lyricist, songwriting is a completely collaborative process.

"Michael definitely brings in the bare bones tunes to the band," Ford says. "We build on them and work them out together as a group and everyone adds their respective parts to them."

The Apache Relay also worked with songwriter Johnathan Rice, who has collaborated with artists such as Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello. Ford says that Rice co-wrote around half of the album's songs.

"We learned so much from him, especially in the lyrics department, but also about song-writing in general," Ford says. "He definitely was like a mentor figure in the studio."

Ford says that working in the former site of the famous Sound City Studios was an overwhelming experience.

"We tried not to think about it too much because you can, like, wig yourself out thinking about the absolutely incredible artists working there," Ford says. "I think I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross our minds though. The Heartbreakers did 'Damn the Torpedoes' here, or (Nirvana) tracked 'Nevermind' here. Hopefully there's some unconscious, indirect influence there."

All the band wants from people who come out to their show is that they have a good time, Ford says.

"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel," Ford says. "These songs are more energetic in a performance setting than on the other record. We like to play a bit more rock 'n' roll so people can have a good time and enjoy a little escape for a minute."

"Apache Relay" will be available April 22 on So Recordings.

Share This Story