GFF 2012 - Silver Apples set for Glasgow Music and Film Festival
Live set from the cult 60s space rock pioneers
When Simeon Coxe III took a 1940s vintage oscillator onstage with him to liven up the psych-rock band he fronted, sparks flew to the extent that half the band left, and, with only drummer Danny Taylor in tow, Silver Apples were born. With their name taken from a WB Yeats poem (science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury had somewhat appropriately already picked up the adjoining line for his 1953 short story collection, ‘The Golden Apples of the Sun’), the two Silver Apples albums that appeared in 1968 and 1969 melded Simeon’s primitive sci-fi zaps to Taylor’s busy drum patterns, and set a template for space rock and the German kosmische bands of the next decade.
If such groove-laden future sounds were alien to hippies high on the summer of love’s false promises, it was nothing to what Pan Am airlines made of depictions of their hardware on the cover of the duo’s second album, Contact. The subsequent law-suit grounded Silver Apples indefinitely. Only when a 1994 bootleg of the two albums appeared, followed by a 1996 tribute album and the likes of Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom citing Silver Apples as an influence did Simeon start twisting those dials again.
‘It’s rewarding to me,’ says a zenned-out sounding Simeon from his home in Alabama of the resurgence of interest in Silver Apples. ‘The best thing is I had nothing to do with it. It all happened of its own volition. When we were around the first time, rock and roll bands were terrified of even using the word “electronics”, as though this was a threat to real instruments. Now it’s the other way round.’
Silver Apples colourful history looks set to be captured in ‘Silver Apples: Play Twice Before Listening’, a new documentary originally scheduled to premiere at Glasgow Music and Film Festival. With the screening cancelled for the time being, Simeon will nevertheless play a solo set featuring samples of the late Taylor, who played several dates with Simeon before a car crash seemingly put paid to Silver Apples a second time. Not until 2007 did Simeon surface again, with solo dates including a spot at the Portishead-curated ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ festival.
While the rest of the world appears to have caught up with Silver Apples, Simeon is philosophical about what might have happened next.
‘If we had continued, I guess we would probably have succumbed to public pressure in order to keep our contract,’ he reflects. ‘It wasn’t easy – and this is a confession – to walk into a room full of people and hear them constantly say things like, “Why can’t you play in tune?”, it eats into you, and just because we’re human beings, we would never have kept that purity. So in a way I’m glad it didn’t happen for us, because there’s a cleanliness about it.’
As for the future, ‘I’m in very good health,’ Simeon says. ‘Nobody can believe I’m 73 years old, but right now I’m doing exactly what I want to do, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.’
Mono, Glasgow, Sun 26 Feb