Apollo Under Fire

Apollo Under Fire is a newcomer formed by vocalist Donald Carpenter (Eye Empire) and guitarist Peter Klett (Candlebox). Their eponymous album is out now as we speak and there was no better time than this to catch up with singer & songwriter Donald so as to find out more about the new band and its music direction among others…
Apollo Under Fire band pic

Hi Donald, I’m glad to have you on Grande Rock. Do tell me… how did the urge to form Apollo Under Fire come about?
D: It was an opportunity to explore and release ideas that I had written over the years. They are personal and deep stories of my journey and wouldn’t have happened without Johnny’s support and Peter’s guidance. Very grateful.
Would you say that Apollo Under Fire is a “full-time” band or just a music project?
D: We are a band that has a lot to balance. Apollo is our focus but there is a lot that goes into supporting our families and taking our time building this to BE a full time band. We each have much to offer in many different areas and that’s exciting. Having the support of each other is the icing on the cake.
When did the other members come along and which were the criteria for someone to join Apollo Under Fire?
D: It started with Peter and I discussing creating together. After I met Tom, I felt he deserved a shot at his dreams. He has the talent and he has the character that I need in my life. There’s no criteria, we were looking for quality people. Stu and Jimmy fit the bill and have only grown since joining the fold. Peter, Tom and I had created this sound that was love and support, so we wanted guys that we felt embodied that personality.
Did you or Klett have in mind to do a band that wouldn’t follow the same music path that you follow with your main bands at some point?
D: You live for your bands, always. As a writer you live for your heart. Sometimes that fits your “band”, sometimes it doesn’t. If a chapter closes and you have to make that choice to start again, you look back on those shelved ideas. Sometimes those ideas become a new chapter and within that, here we are.
Did you talk about the music direction of your band? How would you describe your music style to someone that hasn’t heard of you before?
D: We didn’t choose a particular direction, we just listened to the songs and tried to tell their stories. We let the message dictate the sound. I would describe it as “spiritual rock”.
And how did you come up with the name Apollo Under Fire?
D: We were hashing over ideas and really gravitated to the word “Apollo”. After looking deeper into the meaning, it was a matter of pairing it with a phrase and we settled on “under fire”. We feel that our arts are “under fire” and we hope to do our part to shine light on its importance to the world.
Tell us a few things about each track…
D: “Gotta Believe”: A song of hope in a moment of loss. I wanted to give those struggling out there and anthem of positivity.
“Wings”: A song about my love for my wife and my children. Without them I would have never found my focus.
“When It Rains”: A song about my own struggle to forgive myself for bridges burned. You have to truly be humbled to see the light in the rain.
“Inside You”: A song about focusing inward and looking to nature for peace. In those moments God wraps you in healing forgiveness.
“Refuse”: A song about positive rebellion. We should encourage civil disobedience against injustice in this world.
“One Track Mind”: A song about when I saw my own ego for what it was and in turn saw that ego in the world around me.
“Weightless”: A song about the struggle to and from the light. A song of the prodigal son’s return.
“Feel Your Love”: I wrote this one to tell the story of friends who endured a pediatric cancer diagnosis. A parents’ worst nightmare.
“Wait”: A story of love and loss. A song that encourages patience.
“Sweet Freedom”: I wanted to paint the picture of a man, who had traded in his dreams for the paycheck, who in the end is living a life unfulfilled.
When and where did the recordings take place and who did the production, the mixing and the mastering of the album? Are you totally satisfied with the final outcome?
D: We recorded at LaLa Mansion Studio in Tampa. Peter produced and mixed the record. I couldn’t be more proud of the job he did, very excited for him, he put his heart and soul into it.
There’s already a lyric video for “Gotta Believe” out. Will there be any other lyric or concept video out anytime soon?
D: It’s ideal to keep fresh content out there for your fanbase to consume and share, so we are always looking for ways to do that. Hopefully we can expand on those materials soon.
Are there any plans to give any live shows during the Summer or after with UAF?
D: We just wrapped up a short run in the NYC area and are now in the process of mapping out a live strategy for late summer/fall.
What are your future plans and hopes concerning Apollo Under Fire?
D: We have surrendered our path to God’s will. We are ready, willing and able. We have put in the time and we have done it by our heart. We’ll see where that takes us.
I see that some fans of yours are kinda complaining for not being “harder” in a way. Even though it’s quite soon do you have in mind to be more “rocking” in your sophomore release or what?
D: Heavy to me is about message, it’s not always about tone. We are not a metal band or even a hard rock band for that matter. These are our roots and this is the time in our personal and musical evolution where we are ready to step back and let the message take the lead. This isn’t about an edge; this is about a purpose. We’ll expand on the ground work we have laid for ourselves on this record. Let’s hope we’re pushing this one for a while before we even have to focus on that.
Is there any news from the Eye Empire camp?
D: Not about EE, everyone is very busy, healthy and happy. We’re all good with that for now.
Apollo Under Fire band pic
Time for our “weird questions”!!! What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
D: Self-absorbed, shallow distortions of reality. Anything that falls under that umbrella.
What do you think of the “free downloading & the “free streaming issue” of our time?
D: If you show up for the live show, buy a shirt or get a physical copy signed, all of that can coexist. When you steal and then hide in the shadows, goodbye artist.
Which is your biggest unfulfilled dream?
D: Wembley Stadium
Top 3 horror movies of any era?
D: Not the biggest horror fan but I would go for “Poltergeist”, “Exorcist” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
Fill in the phrase… “Rock music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
D: Sir George Martin, Rick Rubin or Mutt Lang.
Which do you consider to be the best vocalist in rock history?
D: An absolute impossible question to answer, I will go with 3 of my favorites. Freddie Mercury, Chris Cornell & Steve Perry
If you could be any historical person, which one would you be and why?
D: Mozart. Because he’s freaking Mozart haha…
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
D: I would love to go to the original Woodstock and perform…
What’s the worst thing one can say right after sex?
D: “Well that was awkward”…
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
D: Hmm I would think U2 “Joshua Tree”, would be a pretty good one. Really anything from U2.
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
D: Would never happen but for the sake of imagination I’m sure we’d have some real problems. No bueno.
I think we’re done Donald. Thx for taking the time to do this interview. Wish you the best for the future to come. Any last words? Take care!
D: Thanks for helping us spread the word! Grab a copy of the record today at iTunes.com! Love, Light and Hope! smiley