Slates in Hallowell will welcome The Band Apollo (Jonathan Johnston—lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars; Benjamin Packard—electric guitars, backing vocals; and Jonathan Truman—drums, percussion, keyboard, synth, backing vocals) for a Dec. 8 performance, and to that end a call was placed to front man Johnston’s Augusta home where he was celebrating his birthday with a cup of coffee at his kitchen table … he also wanted to talk about TBA’s upcoming sophomore release, “Soldier or a Spy.”

Q: When are you going to have hard copies of the new CD?

Johnston: Well, not until Dec. 8 … that’s our CD release party.

Q: Could you talk a little bit more about your second album?

Johnston: Sure, it’s a six-song release and it’s kind of got that sort of varying-genre thing going on like the last one did, but I feel like there’s a congruency that didn’t exist at first on the other record. I feel like maybe this one shows a little more of our maturing so I’m really, really excited to get it out. It does vary but I’m starting to feel like maybe that’s part of who we are, just showing different sides musically.

Q: To be honest, Jonathan, I like that in a group and it’s the reason that your 2012 debut caught and held my attention right up to today.

Johnston: Thank you, Lucky. In the internet age it doesn’t make any sense to stick to one genre, but I feel with this record — even though we were representing lots of different styles of music — we could see it all as one live set. It has this really nice family feel to it … it all holds together.

Q: Have you ever played at Slates before?

Johnston: Yeah, but not as The Band Apollo though, just my solo project.

Q: So this will be a venue debut for TBA, then.

Johnston: Yeah, as far as Slates goes.

Q: What’s next for you guys — is touring in the band’s future?

Johnston: Well, we’re hoping to, it all kind of depends on how this new EP is received. It seems like we’re starting to get some serious buzz online. Everything’s kind of been picking up for us in the digital world and so we’re really, really hoping that this new record sing of sky-rockets us a little.

Q: Well, going back to an early theme in this interview — diversity, it’s not only the spice of life, it creates excitement on an album because you don’t know what’s coming next.

Johnston: In this record we had so much resource, we had the same people around us and we felt that we had grown so much as musicians that we were actually facing some really big questions, just just, “How do we record these songs and get them out?” but also “Which of these songs do we get out and why?” Because now that we have a platform that’s bigger, now we have gear that’s shinier and more people listening you kind of get tempted to just write music that you think people are going to like — and that’s really fun, it’s like a blast to play music that people are going to like, but then you have this other side of you that goes, “Well, this isn’t necessarily a radio hit but it means a lot to me;” so we were kind of toeing that line the whole record and I feel like, by the end of it, we came out with something that meant a lot to us and that was also something that we could hear people really enjoying.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

Johnston: You know, if you could relay our website and our Facebook address, that would really be great: www.thebandapollo.com and www.facebook.com/thebandapollo , and you could add that this show at Slates may sell out so they should get their tickets as soon as possible … that would be great! Oh, and we’re also on Twitter.

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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