As back catalogues go, The Appleseed Cast boast a bloody impressive one. Today, the band are an infallible post-rock outfit and their most recent album, 2013’s ‘Illumination Ritual’, sounds as though the band had been playing the genre for their entire near-twenty year career. Travel back to 2006’s ‘Peregrine’, however, and you find an accomplished indie rock band that wouldn’t have trouble hanging with then-peers Interpol at the top of their game. Delve deeper still and you’ll find that on their 1998 debut, ‘The End Of The Ring Wars’, as well as its follow up, 2000’s ‘Mare Vitalis’, The Appleseed Cast were a key factor in creating and refining the sound of ‘emo’ as we know it today – just compare ‘Marigold & Patchwork’’s intro to any of The Hotelier’s best songs and you’ll hear just how influential they’ve been in that particular field.
‘Marigold & Patchwork’
Remarkable though such genre-skipping would be from any band, it’s those roots in emo that make The Appleseed Cast such a standout. Take a look around at the bands they came through with – any of them, from American Football and Mineral through to The Promise Ring and Sunny Day Real Estate - and you’ll see that The Appleseed Cast are a truly unique case. While their once-peers have reformed for victory laps and anniversary shows, Appleseed kept at it and - most importantly - kept evolving. That’s not to say those other bands are ambitionless either, those bands simply had the backhanded nostalgia tag thrust upon them as soon as the genre they created saw its resurgence.
“I don’t know what avenue was open to us that wasn’t open to anyone else,” says TAC vocalist Christopher Crisci, reflecting on his band’s anomalous trajectory. “I know that we definitely wanted to grow and expand on what we had done on previous albums. A lot of those bands have either broken up and reunited, or taken a hiatus or what have you, and they’ve picked up kind of where they left off. And more power to them for that - I love a lot of those bands, and they have something great that I want to see again. But over here in Appleseed Land, we’ve had a different trajectory. We never broke up, and our music has morphed a lot more over time.”
Be that as it may, Appleseed Land isn’t a total stranger to nostalgia. The band did play anniversary shows for their two 2001 ‘Low Level Owl’ albums, as well as the aforementioned ‘Mare Vitalis’. But even then, those were one off, celebratory events that acknowledged the place of those records in the band’s canon as an aside to their current output, rather as the centrepiece of what they do. And despite any financial temptation there might have been to let their history define them, Crisci and his band kept their minds fully focused on the future.
‘Great Lake Derelict’
"If you’re doing this for the money, you’re doing the wrong thing. There are better ways to make money.”
— Christopher Crisci
“Both were fun,” he says of those shows. “But as far as something that we do of our own volition, I think we’re done with that. What I love about music is writing, and I want to play songs that I am excited about, regardless of whether they are new or old. I also believe that if you’re doing this for the money, you’re doing the wrong thing. There are better ways to make money.”
Maybe continuing their evolution is one of those ways, since they aren’t giving themselves even a chance of growing stale. As well a high band member turnover (Crisci mentions that there have been new players on every single album, with him being the only constant), the ever-changing nature of the Appleseed sound predictably draws new ears with each transfiguration. Less predictable, however, is that they don’t seem to lose too many of the old ones, either.
“I’m often amazed that any of our old fans have stuck with us,” Crisci agrees. “Once in a while someone will come up to me after a show and tell me they’ve been listening to us for 15 years and that that was the first time they’d seen us live. Mind blown, every time.”
‘Steps and Numbers’
With new songs being written and recorded at the moment, Crisci goes on to assure that after a three year wait, those fans are going to have something new to unravel soon later this year.
“This may actually be the first album in a long time that we are looking at as a studio album,” he reveals. “‘Illumination Ritual’ was much more about capturing a raw energy and this one is about capturing both live energy and creating a unique sound with the tools at our disposal in the studio. Of course, that’s just another way of saying that we’re looking forward to playing around in the studio.”
With that promise of even further experimentation, long-time fans and newcomers alike have officially been put on notice. The Appleseed Cast are about to go again, and there’s no telling where they’ll go next. One fairly certain thing, however, is that TAC are unlikely to find themselves taking a step back for the sake of revitalised popularity.
“I’m interested to see what happens to it,” Crisci admits in conclusion, reflecting again on the revival of the genre that owes his music so much. “I envision an endless cycle, where emo revival becomes corporatized and then there’s the next wave of reformed emo, and on and on. Meanwhile I think I will have moved on to who knows what - sine wave meditation or something.”
Joking though he may be, you can be damn sure that even if they were to take such an abstract route, they’d be some of the finest quality sine waves you’ve ever heard.
The Appleseed Cast tour the UK and Europe this month - head here for the full run.
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