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Braving the Unknown

event Apache RelayThe Apache Relay explores new sonic territory on third album

When it came time to record its third album, The Apache Relay made the bold decision to shake things up a bit. The self-titled release, which arrives April 22, marks a departure from the pop/indie-rock sound which characterized the Nashville band’s sophomore album, 2011’s American Nomad, and earned the band a spot in the lineup on Mumford & Sons’ wildly popular Gentlemen of the Road Tour in 2012.

According to singer/guitarist Mike Harris, The Apache Relay’s new Americana-based, rootsy sound is inspired by some of the music he and his bandmates have been listening to in recent years, and also an increased work ethic with respect to the creative process.

“It is a combination of taking our music more seriously and, not overanalyzing, but working hard on our art,” he says. “We spent a lot of time in the studio breaking down each tune, sitting in a circle, throwing ideas out there.”

From the start, the band set out to create something different with this album, if for no other reason than to offer listeners some variety.

“Our mindset for this record was similar to the last two in that we haven’t really ever wanted to do the same thing twice,” says Harris. “We’re definitely interested in exploring different styles.”

The record features a lot of surprises. “Good as Gold” is led by a hypnotic tribal drum beat, “Terrible Feeling” is an echoing Americana number that starts and stops throughout, and “Growing Pains” is a pleasing marriage of Americana and pop rock sensibilities. But the Spaghetti-Western-style “Ruby” stands out with its heaven-reaching background vocals, primal percussion, hand claps, jingling, and a piano that channels a 19th century saloon.

“That’s a song we all really like,” Harris says of ‘Ruby.’ “I got to do some cool stuff with an old synthesizer, which is that really weird, alien sound you hear toward the end of the song. Totally organic. That’s my favorite kind of stuff. There’s a thought process behind it, but no false motivation.”

Fans will get a sneak peek of the new record at the band’s show at Don Quixote’s on March 21, when the group opens for The Lonely Wild.

“I’d say the set’s going to be about 80 percent of stuff off the album,” Harris says. “It’s been three years since we put out a record, and we’ve been playing those songs for a year longer than that, so we’ve been playing those songs for about four years. So besides the fact that audience members are familiar with that stuff, we were probably a little bored with those tunes.”

Harris, for his part, is ecstatic to play songs off the forthcoming album.

“It is a joy to play the new stuff,” he gushes. “I remember after night one of the tour, I walked off stage and felt like I’d had more fun playing that set than I had had in a long time. For me, to get to play these tunes, I don’t have just one or two high points; I’m enjoying what I’m doing the whole time.” 


The Apache Relay will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, March 21 at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. Tickets are $12/adv, $15/door. For more information, call 603-2294.

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