"Making that record was really horrible."

Last year, The History of Apple Pie delivered on the veritable maelstrom of internet hype that seemed to have been following them from their very inception with a superb debut record, Out of View. It marked them out as being one of those bands with the rare gift for being able to wear their influences pretty boldly on their sleeves, and yet still blend them together to produce something that sounds genuinely fresh, and genuinely vital. The album was a critical success and fared strongly enough commercially to allow the band to finally break free of an endless cycle of support slots and play their own shows, but when I speak to guitarist Jerome Watson to discuss the quick-fire follow-up to the album, he's less than effusive about the actual process of putting the debut together.

"It was received really well, and we were grateful for that, but there was too much pressure on us from every angle, really. We had managers at their time who were on our backs; they didn't get that we just weren't ready for certain things. They were bringing labels down to talk to us really early on, and it freaked us out. We didn't know if what we'd been working on was going to be good enough, and we weren't sure if we were actually going to put it out. We'd tried to record it and mix it ourselves, too, which was another thing that just contributed to what a stressful environment it was. We'd spent three months in our bedrooms with nothing to show for it at the end, so we ended up re-doing the whole thing really quickly and just releasing it as fast as we could."

Eighteen months later, the Londoners have already turned around the follow-up at breakneck pace; Feel Something continues the all-out celebration of their nineties influences, whilst also taking cues from noise pop more obviously than Out of View did, and showcasing that Watson's guitar playing is far more multi-faceted than some of the band's detractors had previously given him credit for. It's clear, too, that this is a more considered release than its predecessor, more deliberate in its construction; that's not to say that the writing process was protracted, though.

"A couple of the songs were done after we finished touring for the last album, but we wrote most of them in the two weeks leading up to going in to record," Watson explains. "We didn't really have a solid plan; the ideas just came together pretty quickly. It was definitely a far more pleasant process than when we were making Out of View; a lot more fun, for sure. Everything about this record felt freer, and less stressful."


Moving Forward

The sound of Feel Something, interestingly, feels almost contradictory in nature; it's certainly more refined, but there's also a very definite sense of the band moving beyond the confines of the sonic identity they'd constructed for themselves to this point. "We used better equipment to record it; we went to my friend's place in Islington, and he's got a big valve console, so that was cool - it made a big difference. Personally, I definitely toned down the use of effects on my guitar, as well. It just seemed like a good time to try something different; when we were touring the last record, I had this huge fucking pedalboard that I was lugging around with us, and all just to make this one weird sound. That kind of went out of the window, and I just focused on making things sound good."

Watson hasn't been one to keep his opinions to himself on that front in the past, either; he's made public his disdain for well-equipped bands making their music sound rough the edges on more than one occasion. "The lo-fi thing's cool," he sighs. "But that's when you've not done it on purpose, when it's not contrived. When it's just, "yeah, we used shit equipment and this is how it sounds," then fine, but it's when people deliberately make things sound bad that it winds me up. When they've got all this incredible gear, and they're actively trying to make something sound shitty; I mean, you wouldn't release your album as an 80kbps MP3, you know? It's weird."


On Working With The Horrors' Joshua Hayward

As with Out of View, The Horrors' Joshua Hayward was involved with the making of Feel Something, providing his engineering expertise. According to Watson, though, there's nothing to tell about the origins of their relationship other than that they've been friends for a long time. "There wasn't really any thinking behind it; he just so happened to be around on the days that we needed him. We do stuff with him all the time, anyway; if either of us is recording, we usually get the other one to come along and help out. We've recorded other bands together, too, so I suppose we've just got a longstanding engineering partnership, to make it sound a little bit more grand than it actually is. Josh is one of the first people I always play the demos to, just to get his opinion on them. He'll dance around a little bit if he's excited about a song."


Fast Delivery

Out of View, at this point in time, is really anything but; it was only released in February of last year, making the sheer speed at which the band have managed to put together especially impressive, give that they had a hefty touring schedule keeping them busy, too. "I actually wanted to get it out in January of this year," says Watson, "but that was pretty unrealistic. I don't think it was ever really going to happen. We could've taken longer off, and taken longer on the writing, maybe, but I just think you should always be putting as much stuff out as possible. You know, like the Wavves guy; he's always got something out, all the time, whether it's Wavves or something else, and that's awesome. I'd love to be more like him."

The rate at which Watson and vocalist Steph Min - his songwriting partner in crime - found themselves firing through new ideas, though, meant that the process of creating Feel Something was considerably more efficient than for their debut, for which some of the songs had been floating around for a while. "We did do nearly all of it in those two weeks; we just needed to get the songs done. I think it's better when there's some real urgency behind it, rather than just sitting around and saying, "oh yeah, that's great" to every idea and then taking ages to whittle everything down. We were definitely more ruthless with the cutting this time; between us, me and Steph can usually decide pretty quickly whether we think something's worth pursuing or not."


Stripping Things Back

The band were also coming into the making of Feel Something off the back of their first real experiences of touring to play headline shows, rather than opening up for other bands. "I think the biggest impact that had on the record was that I knew I had to get rid of that fucking pedalboard," Watson laughs. "At most of the venues we were playing, it'd take up the entire stage, and the rest of the group would all be huddled at the other side. I just got to thinking, "this is silly, I don't need this." I think that's actually ended up being a big part of why the songs are better on this record, because I had to focus more on melodies this time. That was the only real instrumental change, though; we decided it'd help us work better if we stuck with what we had, rather than constantly getting new things."

Around the time that the band actually announced the record, they dropped a new, non-album cut by the name of 'Shake'; it was mainly notable for representing the band's first proper collaboration, with Gary Jarman of The Cribs appearing as a guest after Apple Pie opened the first night of Cribsmas 2 in Leeds last December. "That was where it came from, really," recalls Watson. "We did one support date with them somewhere else, then a festival together, and then the show in Leeds. We were just hanging out with them, and they were really nice. Gary lives in Portland, Oregon, so he recorded his part to the demo and then sent it over, and we worked it in. I think we've got a pretty laid-back attitude to collaborating with people; if they're around and want to get involved, it's usually cool."


Press and Influences

Most of the press that's centred around the band over the past two or three years - and there's certainly been no shortage of it - has made plenty of the fact that Apple Pie's influences aren't something they've ever sought to hide; they've been earmarked as being part of a nineties revival, alongside the likes of Parquet Courts, thanks to their blatant love of the likes of Pavement and My Bloody Valentine. "Not all of that's accurate, though," says Watson, when I raise the subject. "I mean, people talk about stuff like Lush and Slowdive a lot, and they're bands that none of us listen to. I honestly think a lot of the Lush comparisons just came from the fact that Steph's Asian, and she had red hair for a little bit. I think that's the only link. It's weird; some of it's right, because we all do love My Bloody Valentine and that sort of thing, but some of it makes no sense. I've never given Lush a proper listen. I've heard some singles, and I quite like them, but I don't know. Perhaps we do sound like those bands, but it's not intentional."

In that case, then, it's only fair that I press Watson on who he does think his influences are, particularly on Feel Something. "If I'm honest, between the two albums, I've pretty much only listened to Blur. From a guitar point of view, I think I have sort of aimed for that a little bit - there's definitely a bit of a Modern Life Is Rubbish thing going on with some of the songs. Besides that, I don't really keep tabs on what the others get up to when we've got time off. Steph's pretty free-flowing; she just seems to do whatever she feels like over the top of my ideas, and if she doesn't like what's underneath it, then it doesn't usually become a song."


Looking Ahead

The band have just wrapped up another lap of the UK - their first in support of the new record - and are moving on to Europe shortly, with an eleven-date jaunt set to kick off in Paris later this month. "I like touring, but ideally, I want to get as much recording done as we can," admits Watson. "It's the same for everyone, though; as soon as you put a record out, you're like "yeah, there's definitely going to be another one in six months," but that's just a really unrealistic way of working in the modern age, which is a bummer. It might be for the best, anyway; I don't want us to end up repeating ourselves, and that'll happen if we don't give ourselves enough time to explore new things."

Feel Something is available now via Bella Union. The History of Apple Pie play eleven dates across Europe from October 27th