The Appleseed Cast is an indie rock band based in Lawrence, Kansas and currently comprises singer/guitarist Christopher Crisci, guitarist Aaron Pillar, bassist Marc Young and drummer Aaron Coker. The band's predominantly guitar-based music has evolved in a relatively short space of time (arguably due to a combination of line-up changes and natural musical progression) from intense, heavy emo indebted to such acts as Mineral and Sunny Day Real Estate to a unique "post-rock" sound hinging on inventive, intricate drumming, subtle guitar arpeggios and impassioned vocals.
Formation and Debut
The band formed in 1997
in Southern California
with Crisci and Pillar joining bassist Jason Wickersheim and drummer Louie Ruiz under the name December's Tragic Drive (derived from lyrics of the song, "Seven" by Sunny Day Real Estate
). The following year
, the band - now billed as The Appleseed Cast - signed to Deep Elm Records
out of New York (before relocating to North Carolina) and released their debut album, The End of the Ring Wars,
an album which met with considerable approval from the emo and underground scenes, as incendiary tracks like "Marigold & Patchwork" were essentially blueprints for the emo style. However, the album was also criticized in some quarters (most notably by Pitchforkmedia
) for sticking too closely to a style already well explored by previous acts such as Braid
and Sunny Day Real Estate.
, the band relocated to Lawrence, Kansas without Ruiz, recruiting new drummer Josh "Cobra" Baruth. Later that same year they entered the Red House studio in Eudora, Kansas
with Producer Ed Rose
who would go on to produce their next four records. The end result was Mare Vitalis
, the band's second full-length album. The album showed progression from the dynamics-heavy rock of The End of the Ring Wars.
Essentially a concept album on the movements of the sea (encapsulated in such song titles as "Mare Mortis," "Poseidon" and "Kilgore Trout" (also an allusion to the reoccurring Kurt Vonnegut character of the same name), the album is a fan favourite, heavy on atmosphere, crescendo, subtly undulating guitar arpeggios and the percussive, intricate drumming of Baruth, who clearly brought a new dimension to the band's sonic palette.
The band completed Mare Vitalis in late 1999, but tensions were developing between the band and Wickersheim. In January 2000, Pillar asked his roommate, St. Joseph, Missouri-native Marc Young, if he would be interested in playing bass for them, for one show. Young agreed, however the show they spoke of and agreed upon, never materialized. Regardless, Wickersheim officially departed the group that same month with Young replacing him on bass.
Low Level Owl & Lost Songs
After touring Mare Vitalis
, the Appleseed Cast once again entered the studio in late 2000 to begin work on what would be their most ambitious project to date. Eager to fulfill their five record deal with Deep Elm, the band embarked on a double LP, with Ed Rose once again at the helm. Low Level Owl Volume One
was released on August 21
with Volume Two
following on October 23
The tracks were woven seamlessly together into album-length soundscapes, revealing a hitherto unnoticed post-rock influence. The complex vocal arrangements and enigmatic lyrics were buried in the mix underneath simple, repeated guitar riffs, swathes of keyboards and found sounds, and Baruth's inventive, intricate drum patterns. The pieces containing vocals and lyrics were connected by ambient-influenced instrumentals. The Low Level Owl albums seemed both to be a natural progression from the more song-oriented Mare Vitalis and a complete shock, the previously disparaging Pitchforkmedia website giving the project a glowing review. However, some critics were put off by the intentionally repetitive nature, not only of much of the guitar playing but also the ambient instrumental interludes.
The band followed their Low Level Owl project with the release of Lost Songs the following year. The album was a collection of songs recorded shortly after the release of The End of the Ring Wars, songs which were considered unfinished. In 2002 vocals and overdubs were added to the "lost songs" and issued as the Appleseed Cast's final release on the Deep Elm label.
The Appleseed Cast signed with the New York
based indie label Tiger Style Records in 2003 and released Two Conversations
shortly afterward. Touring keyboardist Jordan Geiger was officially credited as a band member on the album. Two Conversations
was met with mixed reviews.
Some viewed the album with dismay, regarding the more conventional song structures, the less diverse sonic palette and the personal, relationship-driven lyrics as a blatant retreat after the no-holds-barred experimentation, depth and complexity of the Low Level Owl project. However, others saw the album as an assured combination of the driving emo-rock of their early work subtly embellished with elements of the Low Level Owl sound.
During the recording of the album and the subsequent tour, tensions mounted once again, this time with drummer Josh "Cobra" Baruth. Rumors began to surface in the spring and summer of 2004 that Baruth was no longer a part of the group, and were confirmed on the band's website later that year.
Following the confirmation the band went on hiatus. Crisci began working with his side-project Old Canes and Geiger returned to his band, Minus Story. In the meantime Tiger Style, in financial difficulties, was forced to drop their entire roster, including The Appleseed Cast from their label after just one album.
Rebirth & Peregrine
Throughout late 2004 and much of 2005
little to no word travelled on the band's current situation. This began to change later in the year as news of drummer auditions began to spread. The band auditioned with many drummers including part-time Old Canes drummer Aaron Coker
who later went on to tour with Reggie & The Full Effect
. The position eventually went to the Casket Lottery
drummer, Nathan "Nate Jr." Richardson.
With a new drummer in place, the band was signed by the Militia Group in 2005 and announced they were returning to the studio in October.
The recording sessions for Peregrine, the Appleseed Cast's sixth full-length album, were held in Cannon Falls, Minnesota at Pachyderm Studio. The sessions were produced by John Congleton, their first in years without their regular producer Ed Rose.
Lead singer and guitarist Chris Crisci stated on the band's website "...I don't know if I've felt better about a record this early since Mare Vitalis." The album is arguably more eclectic than any previous release in their catalogue, the Low Level Owl indebted instrumental "An Orange And A Blue" sitting alongside the more conventional, guitar-driven "February" and the stark, electronica of "Mountain Halo."
Peregrine was released on March 21, 2006.
Nathan Richardson left the band in the summer of 2006 and was replaced by Old Canes drummer Aaron Coker.
When asked about the next album (mentioned previously as an entirely instrumental EP) in a recent interview, Chris Crisci had this to say; "Well, the idea is still there, although it has morphed into a mostly instrumental full length. There's songs that have 45 seconds of vocals and 6 minutes of instrumental. There's songs that are entirely instrumental, and there's one song with complete vocals that clocks in at about 2:30." (Credit to Captain Obvious): http://www.thankscaptainobvious.net/2007/09/interview-christopher-crisci-of.html. As of July 28th, 2008, the band has stated that the forthcoming record is nearly complete and will be titled Sagarmatha. This was announced on the band's Myspace, where they also uploaded a demo of "Road West", a new instrumental song that will be featured on Sagarmatha. Recording sessions were/are being held at Black Lodge Recording in Lawrence, KS. The album will be 9 songs in total with a good mix of instrumental and some new things vocally. The album's expected release is January of 2009. So far 3 demos have been released on their Myspace site; the fore-mentioned "Road West" and more recently "A Bright Light" and "Summer Before." "Song 1" and "Song 2" have been speculated as possible tracks on the album, but not confirmed.
- White Japanese Fender Jaguar with Gibson '57 humbucker in the neck position (Mare Vitalis-Peregrine)
- White 1980's Gibson Les Paul Studio (Mare Vitalis-Low Level Owls)
- Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10 combo and 4x10 extension cabinet (Mare Vitalis-Low Level Owls)
- Fender '65 Twin Re-Issue (Two Conversations-Peregrine)
- Black Fender Double Fat Strat with Gibson '57 pickups duct taped in with no pickguard
- 1973 Ampeg V4 100watt head with matching cabinet (Mare Vitalis-Low Level Owls)
- Mesa Boogie Maverick 2x12 (Touring Amp borrowed from Chin Up Chin Up)
- Peavey 5150 (Touring Amp)
- Yellow Cream flammed Fender Jazz Bass (Mare Vitalis-Peregrine)
- Ampeg SVT Classic all tube 300watt head with various 8x10 cabinets (Mare Vitalis-Peregrine)
The band uses the following effects pedals:
Line6 DL-4s, Boss Tremolo, CryBaby Wah, DOD Delay, Boss Overdrive, Fulltone OCD, FullTone FullDrive-2 Distortion, Boss DD-20, MXR micro amp, Memory Man, Sans Amp, and many others...
- 1998 - Tale of the Aftermath b/w Skatter Ik Ignito 7"
- 1999 - Split (with Planes Mistaken For Stars and Race Car Riot) - Deep Elm Records