by Joshua (J.Smo) Smotherman February 12, 2022
Indie Music Discovery
8674 Bluefield Way
In this interview spotlight, I chat with members of The April Fools about their latest project Wonderland, adapting during a pandemic, technology and more.
Where are you from and how do You describe your style of music?
The April Fools are Minneapolis, MN based, but Ben Kaplan (drums/vocals) is from Baltimore, MD and Brad McLemore (guitar/vocals) is from Dallas, TX. Brian Drake (guitars/vocals), Terri Owens (guitars/mandolin/vocals) and Nick Salisbury (bass) are from Minneapolis. We would describe the music as American Rock and Roll incorporating definite Americana and 60’s-influenced Pop roots – guitar-driven with an emphasis on strong vocal harmonies and performance. Because we tackle several genres in our writing and collaboration, it is tough to pigeonhole our overall sound or style in simple terms. There is a lot to unpack here.
How did you get here? As in, what inspired or motivated you to take on this journey through music and the music biz?
Well, this is our fourth release – and the third on Blackberry Way Records so the band has been at work for over 8 years now. We’re all lifers in the music biz with long resumes. Collectively, we’ve been involved in a broad and wide range of live shows, TV appearances (The Tonight Show/Austin City Limits) and recording projects, from past to present, including Chuck Berry and Lowell George to Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem) and Ryan Bingham, both of whom our bassist, Nick Salisbury, currently tours with.
Name the biggest challenge you faced as a creative during these unprecedented? How did you adapt? How have you kept the creative fires burning during all this?
Because we began recording this release, Wonderland, right at the beginning of the pandemic, there were several things we had no choice but to do differently – not the least being recording all the drum tracks first with only the writer in the studio with Ben and (producer/engineer) Mike Owens. So, scratch vocals and a guitar and the drums. That was it. Then, we went in individually and recorded the rest – guitars, bass, and additional guest musicians. Vocals were last. We were very careful but determined to make it all work. Collaboration is what this band is about – there are three writers and four singers – and listening to the songs now you would swear that all hands were always on deck and all playing together. Nothing sounds “mailed in” – even the on track that Murry Hammond (Old 97’s) recorded remotely from Los Angeles. There really is a deeper and more thoughtful vibe on Wonderland compared with our previous albums – and we’re very pleased and happy with the results.
What was the last song you listened to?
Somebody In My Home – Howlin’ Wolf. It’s playing as I type this.
Which do you prefer? Vinyl? 8-tracks? Cassettes? CDs? MP3s? Streaming platforms?
I prefer whatever sounds best – I still listen mostly to CDs and we can’t escape the convenience of streaming platforms. Quality-wise, it’s still CDs and vinyl.
Where is the best place to connect with you and follow your journey?
I really appreciate Your time. Anything else before we sign off?
I appreciate your time, as well. Thanks for the opportunity – we’ll look forward to seeing the interview soon. Cheers, Brian Drake.