Indianapolis doom four-piece Apostle Of Solitude issue this month their second full-length album, Last Sunrise, through Profound Lore. Known for their emotive material and provocative aural sadness, the band has grown palpably since their 2008 Sincerest Misery debut, and it shows in the subtle changes in songwriting and approach audible in their songs. Guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown (ex-The Gates Of Slumber) recently took some time out for an extended phone interview to discuss what went into making Last Sunrise and what the band’s plans are from here.
Where did the title come from?
Yeah. Not a hugely deep story behind it, just the idea that two people are committing a lover’s double suicide. As they see their last sunrise they’re gonna off each other (laughs). That was the only thought behind it. Two or three songs on the record deal with tragic love themes, so it seems fitting. It’s not a concept record, but there were two or three songs that have that vibe to them, so it seemed appropriate. I’d seen a movie—I forget what it’s called now—maybe called The Party or something, on the Independent Film Channel, and it had this scene where it’s supposed to be the last day on earth and these two complete strangers can’t get to their loved ones, so they decide to off each other before the world ends. They were sitting on the rooftop, pointing their guns at each other’s heads, so we spun some of that; lovers and that kind of thing. It kind of stuck from that.
Have you gotten a lot of response about the artwork?
(Laughs) We have, and most of it has not been positive. We somewhat expected it would be like, ‘What’s that all about?’ We didn’t expect that people would hate it so much (laughs). I don’t know whether people dislike it maybe because they think it looks cheap. I don’t know. I’m not sure what it is. We really spent a lot of time thinking about it and dealing with it, and it was by no means like, ‘Let’s do something easier.’ We had to have a photoshoot and think about it and have the design guy mess with it. We tried to make an attempt to do something creative and artistic and a little out of the ordinary and do something with a photograph rather than the skulls and blood and tits. We like all that stuff, don’t get me wrong. There’s a million albums that have that stuff that I like, but we were just trying to do something a little different. Swing and a miss, I guess (laughs). We all like it. It’s one of those things. We all dug it and thought it looked really cool, but so far the response has not been that.
That’s what you get for trying something different.
(Laughs) Maybe if we’re ever fortunate enough to re-press it, we’ll put a collage of skulls, fire, tits, swords, blood, and it’ll just be a big collage. We’ll make the band name completely illegible. Whatever. We dig it. Maybe it’ll grow on some people.
How do you feel about the album itself? Have you gotten a chance to sit with it?
I have. Admittedly, I didn’t listen to it for three weeks after recording because I was sick of it, but I’m very happy with it. I hear stuff on it that I’m like, ‘Man, I wish we could get this in back or this in front, I wish we tried this or that, I wish I could do that again,’ but the goal was, on the whole, to make a better record than Sincerest, and that’s a matter of opinion, whether it’s better or not, but for us, we feel like we played better, wrote better songs, and in that sense, we felt like we found a set. Yeah, I’m happy. I’ll be honest, I’m ready to write some new songs and record again and try to do something even better. As a whole, yeah, I’m pretty happy with it.
Were you surprised at the reaction Sincerest Misery got?
I was, a little bit. Not that I expected anybody to hate it or anything, but I didn’t think people would like it as much as they did. That’s enormously flattering, it’s great. Not that I expected someone to say, ‘This is the biggest turd,’ but I didn’t expect anybody to say, ‘This is my favorite record of the year.’ That’s really flattering, that somebody digs it as much as you do. That’s pretty cool.
Other than topping Sincerest Misery, was there something different you wanted to do going into Last Sunrise?
We definitely made a conscious effort to try and get a little more creative with either the arrangements or the second guitar part, or a harmony here, or vocal harmony there, just try to put a little bit more layer to it, because the person who is into the band enough that they’re going to listen to us more than once, that they can hear something new the next time and appreciate we went out of our way to do more than just write a verse/chorus/verse/chorus, then record. That’s the biggest thing we tried to do a little bit differently, just try and put a little more thought behind it, try to do something that a diehard could appreciate. I hope that most people will spin it more than a couple times and let it grow on them, because I think if they do, they’re gonna hear little things in there. They’ll hear little differences in guitar tones. We used some different amps on different songs. Justin used a different guitar on a song here and there, so there were some things that, if you’re a person who really listens to records and really gets into them, if you pay attention, they’re there.
It does seem like the kind of record that the more time you spend with it, the more you hear.
Yeah. And we hope so. I really hope that some people are able to do that. And I understand some people won’t, some people just aren’t into that. They’re into pressing play and getting satisfaction right away, and that’s fine. But I hope some people will give it a chance and let it sink in a little bit.
How did the recording process go? How long were you in the studio?
We were in the studio for six days. It was down in Bloomington, Indiana, which is about an hour south of us, where IU is. We went down there, for the first three days all we did was tracking the music and the vocals, and then we went back down like a week later, two weeks maybe, and finished any solos or any vocal overdubs that needed to be done, then went to the mixing. Six days total, then we sent it off to be mastered and whatnot. That was nice. Sincerest, we only had five days, and this one we had six. I guess that was another goal, was to try and get another day out of it or a little longer to record. Hopefully it’ll be a goal next time too, to spend a little more time in the studio, which is all contingent on label support and everybody’s family schedules, because obviously all of us have families and things like that. Hopefully we can do that next time, maybe spend 10 days down there and get even more into the actual recording process.
What’s planned show-wise? I know you said everybody’s got families, everybody’s obviously got jobs. I’m not asking when does the five-month world tour start, but what do you have coming up?
Our record release show, here in Indy, is on a Saturday night in April, and then in May we’re playing with Black Pyramid and Let The Night Roar here in Indy, then we plan on, June or July, going out for about nine days. From where we’re located—we’ve done this before—that affords us to make a loop. We can get all the way out to the East Coast and back in those nine days, so we’ll probably do something, I don’t know, Chicago and Cleveland, then get over to New York City, D.C. area and maybe Philly and Pittsburgh. It makes a nice little loop. That’s the immediate plan. We’ve talked about it numerous times and we’d love to get over to Europe, but if you’re gonna go, you need to take a couple weeks. But we’d love to get over there for a couple weeks, because there’s a good reception over there. I went over there with The Gates of Slumber, and that’s a real different reception of how they treat you in clubs versus the U.S. Looking forward to going back.
Last Sunrise is out March 26 on Profound Lore. More info at myspace.com/apostleofsolitude.
JJ Koczan has an extended version of this interview on his blog at TheObelisk.net.