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Silver Apples - Interview

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 29 / 7 / 2010

Silver Apples - Interview


Chris O'Toole talks to Simeon Coxe from groundbreaking American 60's electronic act Silver Apples about the influence of his seminal group and its future

Can, Neu!, Cluster – all bands commonly cited as pioneers. Reference points for countless imitators. But behind these illustrious groups lurks a more obscure name; Silver Apples. Virtually unknown to the wider world, the music created by New Yorkers Simeon Coxe and the late Danny Taylor during the late 1960s served as an inspiration for many of those who went on to become household names. To some they rival the influence of the Velvet Underground or Kraftwerk; fundamentally redirecting the course of popular music. True visionaries with a unique perspective. Following a brief tour of England, Pennyblackmusic sits down with Simeon to discuss the future for this most forward looking of bands. PB: This is a pretty comprehensive tour for Silver Apples, your first for two years. How have you been finding the reception here? SC: Yes, we still tour a great deal. This is our latest tour here – I think Silver Apples have played here in England over ten times. There seems to be little pockets of support for Silver Apples around the world, England is definitely one of them. The whole United States is not. We do get some support on the coasts and also considerable interest around the Great Lakes region, Chicago, Detroit, those sorts of areas. If I go down south, to where I live now, people would rather hear Lynyrd Skynyrd any day of the week. The area is more spread out, much more rural, a little less… what would you call it, less… progressive in its thinking. This covers many, many issues, including social issues. PB: Are you touring these areas all the time. How much time do you spend on the road? SC: No, not at all. I take lots of breaks. When I get back to the United States I sit, record new music. Cool my jets and grow tomatoes. Try to be a human being. PB: But you’ve been touring sporadically for nearly two decades now? SC: Yes, it was right after the German bootleg series was released – that red label thing. PB: That also led to reissuing of the early records, correct? SC: After the bootleg thing we re-released our own records off our own label – Whirlybird – to prompt MCA into doing a legitimate release of the first two records. We went ahead and pirated ourselves. We sent a manifesto to MCA executives saying their versions of the Silver Apples tapes were void, no longer valid. We released new versions off tapes we had. And we did it, a special issue of 1,000 copies each and we sold them out and MCA told us not reprint and agreed to release the official versions. Apparently this was done to considerable applause among some of the younger executives at the offices. PB: You mentioned you were working on new music now. Could you give us a little insight into that? SC: There is material in the works. Not with MCA this time. They only have my back catalogue. What I am doing now is with small independent labels. I am not contracted to anybody. I have one major project I am working on – an album centred on a single theme. There is some pressure to make it into a full blown opera, but I don’t see it that way. It is an album designed to be seen on DVD, not CD – it has visuals all the way through it, animation. The music is connected to the story, something to be sat down and watched, but actually a piece of music which is illustrated with animation. The title is 'Igypticon', a fantasy about people who are immortal who live alongside human beings in a stealth way. A story about the way in which humans are observed. We will be looking to release late next year. I have a third of songs written, but need to work on the visuals. PB: What do you use to create material now? Obviously the Simeon – [a unique collection of oscillators integral to the early Silver Apples sound-Ed] - forms a vital part your enduring appeal. Do you still focus on this? SC: When recording I use three Macs and two PCs, all dedicated to different programmes. One is for maintaining different libraries of samples, including all of Danny Taylor’s drums. So it is still Silver Apples in the truest sense. When I record, all of the material I use for the bassline and rhythm track is still from the oscillators, just on a digital format. It is the same as using the old equipment; but I now use Ableton Live on the Mac and ACID Pro on the PC system. PB: Has this changed the Silver Apples sound over time? To me it has always sounded outside of any given period. Do you feel the same? SC: I have never tried to sound like my time, or any time. I just try to sound like the music I hear in my head, trying to get as close to that as possible. There is no real background, no blues or roots of rock ‘n’ roll or anything like that. So I haven’t been encumbered by some of the chord structures, song progressions, bridge-chorus-bridge kind of thing, I was kind of on my own. That has been good, it has freed me and without really trying to I have created a niche of my own. PB: This all grew out of your first band – the Overland Stage Electric Band? That was a five-piece standard guitar rock band. We played covers; I was the fifth guy, the singer out the front. We had no original material whatsoever. A club band, we played in Greenwich Village more-or-less every night, we were virtually the house band at Café Wah. Danny, who was also in the band, was a fantastic drummer and we became good friends. The more crazy I got with my oscillators, new music, original music, with new ideas the less the others wanted to come along. We eventually went our separate ways. I don’t know if they got into other bands, or if they quit or whatever. Eventually it just left me and Danny. He stayed friends with them for a while, but eventually they just drifted apart. PB: Finally, because Silver Apples are usually viewed as so pioneering, I wondered if you could hear your influence on any performers today. Also, is there anybody you view as particularly progressive at present? SC: People send me stuff all the time. I have literally walls of CDs which I have played once or twice and replied, offering commentary to people who want it. I will do that if people ask, but I have so much stuff coming in I almost never get to go back to it. But there are some few that I revisit. Geoff Barrow from Portishead, he produced a project called Beak, and I was blown away by that. He gave me a copy and we are getting to know each other musically at present. I keep going back to it, I think it is killer. We are talking about a future project, a possible collaboration. We are working on a song, so that is something else for the future. Perhaps not under the title Silver Apples, but something similar to Simeon & Sonic [Boom, of Spacemen 3-CO]. That wasn’t really Silver Apples and Spectrum. There is also some Peruvian electronic stuff I am really into. A really wide, varied array. I guess the word got out ten years ago that I would respond. I am not some ivory tower musician. PB: Thank you.

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Silver Apples - Interview

Silver Apples - Interview

Silver Apples - Interview

Silver Apples - Interview

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live reviews

Picture House Social, Sheffield, 21/9/2016
Silver Apples - Picture House Social, Sheffield, 21/9/2016
Nicky Crewe watches Silver Apples, the project of electronica veteran Simeon Coxe, play a stunning set in front of a transfixed crowd at The Picture House Social in Sheffield
Luminaire, London, 8/8/2010

digital downloads


Clinging to a Dream (2016)
Modern yet retro first album in fifteen years from New York electronic art rock originators Silver Apples

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