Releasing two albums in the late 1960s that set the template for experimental electronic music and DIY culture for years to come, the Silver Apples are true music pioneers.
Comprised of Simeon Coxe on vocals and oscillators and Danny Taylor on percussion, the duo soon became a fixture of New York’s underground scene. Almost 50 years later, Simeon and his Silver Apples are once again setting standards with Clinging to a Dream, their great, new album.
Born in the mountains of East Tennessee in 1938, Simeon was raised in New Orleans and exposed to R&B and the likes of Fats Domino and Big Mama Thornton at an early age before moving to New York as a teenager to pursue his own artistic visions. First joining The Random Concept bluegrass band, he soon moved to The Overland Stage Electric Band who were regulars at the famous Café Wha? in Greenwich Village. One night while playing there, he plugged in an oscillator and went nuts with the sounds, leading the other members to flee the band. That is, with the exception of Danny Taylor, a drummer who had formerly worked with Jimi Hendrix more than happy to join in on Simeon’s cutting edge experimentation. Silver Apples were born that night.
Both their eponymous 1968 debut and its 1969 successor Contact document a band on a cosmic journey of primitive electronic techniques and a minimalistic rock style. Such marks a predecessor to German krautrock, electronica, indie/drone rock and even the dance music to come in later decades. But for a time, it looked as if their history might have ended there. Pan Am Airlines objected to their second album’s cover art, leading to a million dollar lawsuit that effectively halted further progress. The label went bust in the process and the duo were banned from playing their songs live.
Fast forward to the 1990s when Silver Apples experienced a renewed interest in their music. As a result, Simeon hooked up with drummer Xian Hawkins and slowly began touring as Silver Apples once again. Their revival show took place at New York City’s Knitting Factory in front of a cool crowd including Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, the Beastie Boys and Sean Lennon. In 1998, Simeon finally managed to track down and reunite with Danny Taylor for the first time in 27 years. This lead to the release of their ‘lost’ third album titled The Garden in 1998, only possible by virtue of Danny Taylor stumbling upon the tapes in his attic.
Just a couple of gigs later, misfortune struck the band once again in the form of a tour van crash that left Simeon with a broken neck. Following the crash, Xian Hawkins pursued an excellent solo career as Sybarite and Danny Taylor sadly passed away from cancer in 2005. In 2007, a recovered Simeon started up again, playing all around the world as Silver Apples (All Tomorrow’s Parties, Austin Psych Fest) alongside artists he had once inspired (Hans-Joachim Roedelis of Cluster, Portishead). These days, Simoen has settled into a home studio in Alabama, trading out his old oscillators for modern gear.
Silver Apples’ first album in 19 years carries on in the tradition that began back in 1967, merging pure, raw electronic sounds with melodic and poetic content clearly representative of 40 years of polishing and refining this experiment. As for Pan Am, they found themselves out of business long before the Silver Apples.
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What, growing up, made you want to become a musician?
The endless hours of rehearsing the same thing over and over again was so fascinating I just couldn’t stop.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
My mom reminding me to brush my teeth.
The advice you wished someone would have given you?
To remember to comb my hair.
What’s the best gift you ever received?
An electric train set.
Most unlikely source that inspires your own music.
Bartok string quartets.
What’s the first thing you thought about this morning?
What time is it?
In case of fire, what three things would you rescue?
My deodorant, my hat, and my bottle of water.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you do?
Picket art galleries.
How does the perfect day look like for you?
Any day that the sun comes up is perfect.
What’s your greatest fear?
That the sun won’t come up.
What’s a place you’ve never been that you want to go?
What’s your favorite piece of gear on stage?
My volume pedal.
An artist or genre that you just don’t understand?
Give the recipe to your favorite dish.
Put 2 pieces of bread into toaster.
When thing pops up grab bread (now toast).
Slather toast with whatever.
A book that you wish everyone one would read?
Criticize your own music from the perspective someone who hates it.
Silver Apples has the annoying propensity for repeating stuff too much.
What superpower would you chose and why?
Fly like a bird. So I can get the fuck outta here.
Først publisert på read.tidal.com, september 2016.