You, Me & Apollo readies new EP, indie folk for the massesBy Ricardo Baca | January 24th, 2013 | No Comments »
Fort Collins is a funny little music town.
Not only has it surpassed both Boulder and Colorado Springs as a potent producer of quality independent music in the past few years, but the northern Colorado city of 150,000 has also developed the kind of communal talent pool that is a sure sign of a progressive, forward-moving music scene.
Case in point: The excellent new indie folk band You, Me & Apollo. The group started as a solo project from the startlingly soulful Brent Cowles in 2007, eventually evolving into its first full-band incarnation — which released the smart, sharp “Cards with Cheats” release in June 2011. That collective has since given way to the band’s current five-piece line-up, which played its first show together in July 2011 and remains busy.
Just how busy? We caught up with them in late-2012 before a weekend where they had shows scheduled on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — in three cities no less. It helps that the group is making some of the most exciting original music in Colorado right now, and it will test that buzz with the release of its new EP Jan. 26 at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins and on Feb. 2 at the Hi-Dive in Denver.
To say the current line-up has history together is an understatement that only reveals a deeper shared experience.
When drummer Tyler Kellogg first met Cowles, Kellogg was 13 and Cowles was 10. Cowles’ father was Kellogg’s first youth pastor. Now just listen to the pair (and their bandmates) jaw back and forth about who played with whom.
“When (Brent and I) re-met each other as adults, he was playing with other people,” Kellogg said recently, sipping a hard cider in a downtown Denver bar. “They were people who I’d played with previously, as well.”
Added Cowles: “Everybody’s played together before in Fort Collins.”
Kellogg: “I knew Morgan (Travis) through the same people, the people Brent recorded ‘Cards with Cheats’ with — that’s his solo album with the full band backing him.”
Guitarist Travis Morgan sat between the two longtime friends with an understanding smile and another side of the story.
Travis: “It was a different full band than this one … But Tyler and I have played together for eight or nine years, and the guitar player I replaced (in You, Me & Apollo) I’d played with for two years.”
Kellogg: “The old bass player lived in my basement for a while.”
Travis: “And I used to play with him, too.”
Cowles: “And then there’s Jonathan Alonzo. He’s our third guitarist … He runs this little collective, Act So Big Forest, and he plays in every band in town.”
Fort Collins’ tight-knit music community has a lot to brag about. But You, Me & Apollo is at the top of that list. The band has the momentum that brings with it talk of trips to Los Angeles’ buzzy Hotel Cafe in February, Austin’s South by Southwest music festival in March and an east coast tour opening for Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers after that. What’s the buzz? It’s the music, fueled by Cowles’ uncanny hooks and melodies. And it’s also the voice. Cowles is a scrawny, wiry 23-year-old with frizzy hair and a shy countenance, but behind the mic he sounds like a haggard, middle-aged man with struggle and strife in his rear-view mirror.
Cowles is a soul singer fronting an indie folk group. And half the pleasure of listening to him sing is trying to understand how that big voice comes out of that little guy.
“The number one thing I get everywhere we go is, ‘I didn’t expect that voice to come out of you,’ ” Cowles said, shyly looking at the bar table.
And people are taking notice. The band signed to prominent booking agency Paradigm last year, and their shows are now booked by Lumineers agent Joe Atamian. They have new management, a lawyer they trust, and they recently bought their old recordings back from their first label.
You, Me & Apollo is ready to do this — this being the big heave-ho it takes to push themselves out into the universe.
“I’m excited,” Cowles admitted earlier this week. “I feel like there’s a lot of hype that goes along with Hotel Cafe, like doors will open once you play there, and it’s a possibility, but I’m just excited to play a show in Los Angeles, California. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
“I don’t want to focus on what could happen. Then I’ll get nervous and I won’t have fun performing, and us having fun on stage is what’s gotten us to where we are now.”
YOU, ME & APOLLO. The Fort Collins-rooted act will play two Colorado shows in the next few weeks to celebrate the release of its new EP. Saturday at the Aggie Theatre, 204 S. College Ave. in Fort Collins, with Esme Patterson and Turn 4; Tickets, $8-$10, via aggietheatre .com. Feb. 2 at the Hi-Dive, 7 S. Broadway in Denver, with Josh Dillard and the Whicker and Pine; Tickets, $8-$10, via hi-dive.com.