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Apes and Androids
dance-rock for space creatures
by: Lauren Piper - September 30, 2008

When first meeting David Tobias and Brian Jacobs, it’s a little hard to visualize them decked out in makeup and costumes pouring their hearts out in the form of rowdy, exciting synth-rock. It’s not impossible, but their friendly demeanors and an almost shyness about them prove that there is more to Apes and Androids than the exhibitionist desire to dress up, crowd the stage with backup dancers, and rock out under blaring lights. As they become more comfortable talking though, it’s a little easier to see how they could transition into their stage characters as they give lessons on men’s bathroom etiquette and why it’s not ok to stand next to another man peeing.

Jacobs and Tobias, friends and bandmates since grade school, are so mentally intertwined with each other, that an interview with the both of them would seem almost unnecessary were it not for the amusing banter and tight knit brotherhood that the two emit. Both guitarists and singers, they admit that the band truly took shape when their other members joined the lineup but that the songwriting dynamic the two of them share is pretty much the same as it was when they were making music as kids.

When asked if they have changed much since they first became friends, David asks,” You mean like hating girls?” and adds, “We’re surprisingly similar, we’re into more mature things, … we still make music together and we still have a similar process.” He then jokes, “I’m still better at guitar than Brian…” Brian laughs and says, “We had different heroes then.” They discuss the transition from what they had then to what they are now going for, from interests in Bono, Pearl Jam and a lot of early nineties radio rock to more progressive music like Pavement and other indie-rock artists. Currently the two spend their time listening to a lot of their friends’ bands as well as oldies like the Beatles and the Byrds. Brian also jokes that he only listens to all the NOW: That’s What I Call Music records for inspiration and for fun.

Though they have always been a twosome, the modesty and thankfulness with which they speak of the other musicians that make up Apes and Androids is a sign that their family opens up to allow other talented musicians into the circle. And so the band exists as of now, as a six-piece with keys, bass, drums, percussion and two guitars, exuding a confidence and sassiness as a band that only primates and robots could. Most of the songs are recorded in the studio, and they joke (maybe) about their recording process involving shutting off all the lights, boarding up the windows and nursing a bottle of Jim Beam. If that is their method, perhaps everyone should try it.

The group has gotten tons of hype for their over the top live shows which involve shiny outfits, sparkly makeup, cheerleaders, and giant skeleton heads on stage. The most amusing part is that this concept was not something that was originally conceived with the band but more so just something they all randomly decided to do one day, in unison. Since then it has stuck and become more elaborate each time.

Though their on-stage antics get a lot of attention, Apes and Androids wants to be and definitely is more than just another gimmicky band. Their musical style came together as a culmination of Tobias’ and Jacobs’ tastes and evolved into something that is both high energy and outwardly experimental whereas their visual show came together as an example of their wackiness and enthusiasm towards their own music.

“I think that the approach we take to our sound obviously starts with music, but with the opportunity to do something with the space we have to build, we want to do it,” notes Jacobs, “The live show is the visual element you can see and touch and I think that with wearing makeup and stuff like that, the goal is to create an experience of course based on music, and we spend way more time on music than on the other stuff anyway.”

When you move past the performance aspects, and onto their recent debut self-recorded, self-release, Blood Moon, you see that this is where the band’s true characters are represented, not completely in the high-octane feeling of seeing them live. The album wavers between the upbeat, dance styles that they are getting recognition for, to a slower, more trippy, atmospheric sound that is surprisingly dynamic and inspiring. “Nights of the Week” seems to be the perfect example of their catchy, psych-electro beats combined with lucid bass lines and wandering keyboard parts. The song is able to capture their primal, instinctual quality mixed with the “android” within them.

Experiencing the album gives light to the softer, more sensitive side of Apes and Androids, the ability to play with sound and shape in more than just a dance-rock way. Track 12 on the album, “Will I Live,” also expels a driving beat and a choral rock, Queen/Freddie Mercury sense of style to it, but breaks out into heavy drums and droning guitar. Towards the middle of the song it melts into strings and strumming guitar that meld Asian sounding styles with a more folk aspect.
It is admirable to have the creativity to strive for more than just the norm but to fit into such a popular style of music. Both David and Brian know they are lucky for wanting to make this type of music, because it is what a lot of people want to hear and it has more than just the outwardly catchy qualities to it. The only thing they truly want is to be able to continue making music and they have stumbled into a niche that will help them do that for a while.

David says, “We want the record to be widely available, which it’s not really right now, so we want people to hear it. And we want to play shows… we really want to play Europe and go out to LA. Right now our main goal is just to play a lot more shows.”
The only struggle in the future that Apes and Androids may face would be losing a fan-base when they get tired of applying makeup and coming up with more concepts for their shows. Though the band doesn’t have any current intentions of changing their live show, they hope that their music can be appreciated for what it is, with or without the extra stage antics. Tobias comments, “I think our show ends up being impressive and different even if we don’t have make up on and confetti canons blasting into your face, so it still is a cool experience.”

Until they reach that problem, the two will continue with Apes and Androids, coming up with absurd plots to both own matching Apes and Androids pimped out automobiles and discussing what their super powers and costumes would be (completely unrelated to the automobiles). They will also keep on eating sushi, which they refer to as power food before gigs to prevent from any unwanted bodily dysfunctions. After discussing the amazing powers of sushi and how they don’t go out after their shows, buy cheeseburgers and go home to play PS2, David laughs and adds, “No, we’re wild, we eat sushi.”


“The live show is the visual element you can see and touch and I think that with wearing makeup and stuff like that, the goal is to create an experience of course based on music, and we spend way more time on music than on the other stuff anyway.”

Apes and Androids
"Bloody Moon"

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what it is

Dance-rock for space creatures. For those who like: Queens, Of Montreal, Beck's "Midnight Vulture".