One round-trip back to the future, please. With a uniquely retro, yet somehow modern sound, APRE are one of the most exciting bands in the current alt-pop sphere, and for good reason. Charlie and Jules are winning hearts by storm with big infectious sounds that follow a very clear vision: life should be more simple.
Having supported the likes of Inhaler, Sam Fender and LANY on previous tours, APRE are in the middle of their first-ever headline run. It’s a welcome change from the earlier warm-up slots. “It’s so much nicer. Not that support tours aren’t good, but you have to really work to win a crowd over,” Jules explains, and Charlie is quick to agree: “You definitely shit yourself a lot more because, especially when it’s a slightly older audience, they can be quite stiff, and there’s nothing worse than playing to a load of people who are very static. You’re essentially being judged for the first 3,4 songs, and then after that, they’re like ‘okay’. But some people might hate you, some people might leave, some people might go to the bar… You can easily get caught up in it, worrying about what an audience is thinking – too caught up in it – so we try to block everything out and focus on the music.”
But on a headline tour with a good portion of sold-out shows, that’s not something the two need to be worried about. “It’s been pretty mental having packed rooms everywhere. The last few gigs, it’s been very surreal to see the first few rows singing our songs back.”
For those who have not yet had the pleasure, APRE gigs are a great place to come to completely get lost in their sound and the overall atmosphere. The band put a lot of emphasis on having a setlist that balances upbeat and more chilled out songs, so you’re quite literally riding the waves of emotion. A characteristic born out of Charlie’s self-diagnosed ADHD. “When I would go to a gig, I would watch 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and then I would just be bored. Completely bored. So, I asked myself: Why am I bored? And it’s basically because the energy is constantly high, but when you’re high all the time you hit this flat line. It’s important to dip and go back down, so then you can go up again.”
Talking to the band, there is a clear theme of taking things as they come. Especially when writing songs, they’re all about being in the moment. “What comes out comes out. It depends on your mood. When you’re feeling quite shit you might make a happy song to help pull you out of the mood, but we’d never sit down with the intention of writing a down tune – we just see what comes out.”
As a rule, Charlie and Jules write their songs together, sometimes they may come into a session with ideas, riffs or melodies but they make a point of finishing and producing the song as a team. The only exception to the rule is Charlie’s newly founded Write-Your-Girlfriend-A-Love-Song Service. “I have a couple of friends, where for their girlfriends’ birthday presents, they wanted a song, but obviously I’m not going to write the words because that would be a bit weird. So, they came to me with lyrics, which was interesting because I usually always write the music first and had to switch the process around.”
How well the songs actually turned out is a story for another day, but as far as the process goes, it’s a win-win. The girlfriends get a new favourite song and Charlie new inspiration. “When you’re just doing something for the sake of doing it, and you’re not thinking about it too much, you often find that you’ll come up with better ideas because you’re more relaxed. You’re not worrying, you’re just enjoying making music.”
In keeping with that sentiment, Jules hits the nail on the head when he says: “When you put yourself under any sort of pressure, it numbs creativity.” And Charlie takes his thought even further: “Half the skill of being a musician is to be able to block out all the crap and just do what you want to do to the best that you can. It’s about doing it for you and not doing it for anyone else.” They certainly are an insightful duo, these two, and it’s clear to see that they put an insane amount of love and dedication into their craft.
Having met at uni and not as they would like the world to believe at a chess club – they’re not that cool – Jules and Charlie have been on quite the journey together but finding the APRE sound was less an intention and more an organic process. “Charlie and I played in quite a few different bands at the time. Outside of that, I would go to his gran’s house where we would sit in the front room on his laptop and just write songs. But we never wrote songs with an agenda, we never went in wanting to sound like this, it just sounded like what came out.” What came out, are beautifully diverse pop tracks sprinkled with electronic elements that impress not only with emotive songwriting, but their undeniable catchiness. Tracks like ‘Don’t You Feel Like Heaven’, ‘Everybody Loves You’ and ‘Come Down’ flow so effortlessly, it’s hard to imagine they didn’t take intricate planning to write. But that just wouldn’t be APRE.
“It is what it is. You can’t force a motive,” Charlie explains, comparing making music to planning a night out or a good relationship. “It works best when you’re not thinking about it too much.”
As with everything in life, their music evolves naturally. “You get older, you get better at different areas, and naturally, it starts changing anyway. Our sound changed naturally, but it’s been a natural progression, not a forced thing. That’s why it works.”
If the band had a motto or a rule to live by, it would most likely be keeping it simple. “It’s meant to be fun, isn’t it? It’s mental that this is our job. We walk around with a light-up sign with a word on it that doesn’t even make sense and dance around on stage singing ‘I’m all yours, yours, yours’ and everyone is cheering us on – it’s ridiculous and it’s fun, and we just want to keep it that way.”
Assessing their current situation, Charlie and Jules are keeping their feet firmly on the ground. “We’re on the runway, we’ve not taken off, but we’re on the way. We’ve learned over the last year that we need to make it as easily digestible, especially to the young audience, what we are and at the end of the day, we’re just two lads that made some songs in my grans front room; we like playing music, and the live shows are alright.”
Actually, they’re more than alright. APRE are ready for take-off, so take a seat and strap yourselves in. It won’t be long now until their infectious brand of wonky electronic indie-pop takes over international airwaves, and the world is all theirs, theirs, theirs.
Taken from the April issue of Dork, out now – order your copy below.
Words: Laura Freyaldenhoven