Badass Band #21

Photo Credit- Christian Ericksen

              It’s time to get funky folks, this next band is some serious funky rock and roll. This band will get your body movin’ in all sorts of new ways, ways you weren’t sure it could move in. Drop Apollo is their name and they call pop funk soul their game. This band had my ears tractor beamed to their tunes after only hearing one song.

               Drop Apollo is a five-piece band from San Francisco, CA. Many people will attempt to compare them to Maroon 5’s sound, but these guys do it better, more classically and with much deeper lyrics. DA is made up of Matt Widdoes- Vocals, Greg Randolph- Bass, Gregory Hoffman- Keys, Karim Baki- Guitar and Dan Schwartz- Drums. Matt’s smooth soulful voice fronts a diverse compellation of funky rhythms and melodies. Though all the songs on their five song EP ‘New King’ are most definitely worthy of a mention, I’m going to focus on just a couple. First, ‘Million Miles’, about a guy who is digging on a girl and is giving it his all and trying not suffocate her but she won’t change her ways. It’s refreshing to hear the flip side of the guy/girl dynamic. “I would be fine if you could change your ways/And You know, I tried so hard to let you control the pace/Didn’t want to walk on by…” and though the chorus is catchy, the best part comes at the end of the song where they break from the funk into a flawless rocking guitar outro. This was the first song I listened to and it left me with an intense need to continue listening to these guys. My second pick is extra funkified ‘Eve’ which is dripping with religious imagery and catches you with the hook, “The Devil won’t leave us alone, no no/Just in case we all might change our mind/The devil won’t leave us alone, no no/ Not until we’ve all found God”. You can pick up ‘New King’ on Itunes for a steal and you will be all the better for doing so.

               DA plays shows pretty consistently all around CA, especially in their home base of the Bay Area. They have also started to gain some well-deserved National attention by making it onto the Hollister Co. stores playlists which is great, considering that normally these playlists are filled with mindless wannabe Sum 41 bands.

               Drop Apollo was cool enough to take some time to answer some questions for BBB, so read on! Find out why their music is like a bikini wax, why they want you to run away from home and carry their gear, and how their music can help you quit smoking and improve your sex life!

When and why did each of you start playing?
-At different times. Matt, for instance, started singing after his first heartbreak. It sounded so nice when he cried that it just made sense. Karim got his first guitar around 11 and was formerly rocking the east coast with his band The Low Life. Hoffman (Greg) busted on the keys around 5 and Randolph (Greg also) got going on bass a few years ago, playing in some local Doom bands—Greenhouse and The Solid—but has played guitar for longer than I’ve been alive. Myself—I’ve been playing drums for about 15 years. We’re all war vets on our instruments and now we’re just dealing with the neuroses of civilian life.

How did you all meet?
-Combo of Chat Roulette and Couch Surfing.

Explain your name, Drop Apollo.
-Well if you ever payed any attention in school you’d realize that we really admire the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. After all, they were somehow the birthplace of Western culture and a lot of Parmenides’ axioms are even echoed in Katy Perry lyrics if you listen closely. “Thought and being are the same” is almost analogous to “he kissed my lips, I taste your mouth, Oh!”. So we wanted a name deeply rooted in the western experience. Drop Apollo is like Drop the culture. Maybe drop means let it go, get shake it off, dance like your soul’s damned. Or maybe it means drop the beat, drop the knowledge. Either way it sounds good.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
-Our band is really unique in that we all come from very different musical backgrounds. That’s what helps us produce accessible yet interesting songs. I got really into Jazz at a young age and that’s all I listened to through college. Now I’m getting into RnB, neosoul, nu-jazz stuff. I know Hoffman used to be heavy into punk rock and now he studies a lot of pop/rock radio. He really dissects the songs to understand why we’re all such fools. Our bassist Greg Randolph listens to eveything, and I mean it. Black Dalhia Murder Scene to Rick James to Gypsy Jazz. Front man Matt is from Texas so he brings it with all that country soul—George Jones, Randy Travi as well as Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, etc… Our guitarist Karim is probably our most rockin entity. He grew up idolizing the Chili Peppers, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Joe Satriani. Now he’s breaking out Dub Step on his phone while we’re fine dining.

Which musicians do you idolize? Why?
-As a band we idolize just about any musician or band that has made it work without compromising their soul. It seems like a hard thing to do in the music industry. You can always tell the synthesized artists from the true ones. Adele is all the rage these days and it’s because she rocks in a way that Lady Gaga never will. Adele is all inside and Gaga is all facade. We believe you can be commercially successful and still say something musically, and we admire musicians who will take that stand. Of course we all idolize the virtuosos too, the guys and gals who drove music over new grounds. Hendrix, Coltrane, whatever—That list is Rolling Stone long.  

Do you get nervous before a performance?
-We get excited! There’s nothing better than rocking out, especially when people are rocking out with you! There might be a minute of nerves right before the first hit drops—it’s like being at the top of the hill on a roller-coaster—but after that it’s all a ride. We know our songs in and out so there usually aren’t any surprises. Plus, the audience doesn’t give a damn if there are.  

Any rituals before a show?

-We really annoy the sound guy and then we all take a shot. Greg R takes about seven. Matt gargles Novocain and Karim soaks his bandanna in paint-thinner so he can have good vibes while playing.

Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
-The only spectacle is the music. We just get up there and sweat. The music has the power to speak on its own so we just let it loose. It’s like a bikini wax, if you need a metaphor—dirty, raw, uncut, often painful (the kind of pain that makes you beg for more), but leaving the listener clean, refreshed and ready to conquer foreign lands.  

How does your creative process typically work? What inspires you?
-We have a sicko studio in west Oakland where we meet twice a week and get down to business. Someone brings in a riff, a progression, a song, and we tear it down and build it up. Anything that makes us whip out our iphones and hit record is likely to play into a future song.

What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
-Well, we’ve gotten some exposure on iTunes and one of our singles is playing in Hollister stores across the country as we speak. That is pretty awesome. We’ve also been able to team up with some pretty amazing producers and engineers to record some of our stuff. All in all things couldn’t be better for a band you’ve never heard of!

What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
-Choreographed dance moves. Hoffman’s legs aren’t long enough.

What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?
-We’ve been laying down another six song EP, so that should be out in the next couple months and we’re really trying to slam as many venues as possible. We’re looking to gig where ever for whoever! Pay our way and we’ll come and play!

Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?
-Our music will significantly improve your sex life. It will help you quit smoking, increase your metabolism, encourage growth in any bald spots, reverse osteoporosis and encourage Alzheimer’s right when you’re beginning to wish you had it. Our range of influence makes us unique and we’re not afraid to hit you with some latex if need be. Slogan? Drop Apollo: too much for one, not enough for two. Or, Drop Apollo: the cheese sticks for your tomato soup. Yum. Or, Drop Apollo: who gives a funk about the debt ceiling when we ain’t got no money.

If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
-Do what Google does and go steal all those insanely amazing musicians off youtube and out of music school and let them start writing radio songs. Let taste evolve around artistic creation, not a business model. They need to take a chance outside of the box. Even the freshest artists on the radio are thatched into this really tight model, and the only reason people don’t have a wider musical taste is because it’s not offered by the mainstream. People will listen to what you put in front of them for the most part.


Random Portion
One song you never get tired of.
-Sandstorm by Darude.

What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
-Matt says Beck. They had a DJ spinning in circles while spinning 4 records. Insane! I say Soulive. Best funk rock raging energy ever. Hoffman say Gogol Bordello. Greg Randolph says Golgoroth—sick! Karim can’t make up his mind between Radiohead, Daft Punk, Tool, Rage, Wu Tang and Celine Dion.    

Favorite movie?
Unanimous vote for Milo and Otis, the original pet adventure. 27 cats died in filming!

Favorite book?
Either Finnegans Wake or the Twilight Saga.

Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
We’re all pretty active hiking, biking, balling or drinking. Matt is a poker magician and I am a writer. Hoffman enjoys social networks.

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Don Quixote. Life is such a grand thing for him even though he’s dumb as fuck. Not Angela from Angela’s Ashes. Maybe Tom Green in Freddy Got Fingered or Scarry Spice in Spice World or Johnny Depp in Dead Man. Or Johnny Depp in general. He’s kinda a fictional character, but in that case I’d be either be Mother Theresa or Wilt Chamberlain.

Best prank you have ever pulled?
-I put blow in Karim’s nasal decongestant. He doesn’t know yet.

Pet Peeves?
-American Foreign Policy and NASCAR

If you had only 5 minutes on Earth to perform one song that would leave an impact on the world today, what would it be and why?

-To leave an impact it’d have to be really powerful. Hypnotizing, even. I guess it’d be something by Enya. Or better yet, John Cage. John Cage’s 4:33! Silence!

What kind of jobs did you have before you were in the music industry?
We all still have jobs because the music industry hasn’t given us shit! Buy our CD at! Invite us to a venue near you! Donate through us and we’ll give 20% to a charity of your choice. Run away from home and help us carry our gear!  We love you! We need you! We would damn ourselves for your listening pleasure!!!          

Check Them Out:

 Twitter: @DropApollo




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