There was a time not too long ago when there were so many great Welsh rock bands around it was difficult to keep track of them all. The likes of Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine and Lostprophets (I’ll say that one quietly) shaped my love for rock music, but Cardiff rockers Calling Apollo could be set to put Welsh rock back on the map again.
The quintet of Christian James Neale (vocals), Dan Hughes (guitars), Kevin Williams (guitars), Luke Walters (bass), Zak Woolf (drums) have technically been around for about four years, but only really got going when Zak got involved in May 2015.
They’ve since released two EPs that have received rave reviews for the band’s aggressive, yet melodic sound – in fact there’s more than a little feeling of FFAF about them in that sense. Indeed, they worked with former FFAF producer Romesh Dodangoda, who’s also worked with the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Bring Me The Horizon and Kids In Glass Houses, for debut EP Hunter | Gatherer. Then last year they released the first in a two-part split album release of The Great Depression, which they tell us: “focuses on the potentially destructive current day political attitudes which can easily mirror the attitudes of the Great Depression in 1929.”
We spoke to lead singer Christian this week to get the lowdown on this exciting new entity, and asked them about how they got into the rock scene. He said: “We’ve all been into rock music literally since we were infants. We grew up on all the old rock records our fathers used to play, so growing up making music has been something we’ve always done and probably always will in some capacity.
“This particular band got together after we all took a break from our previous bands breaking up and meeting each other on music forums, to start a new band. We were strangers to each other, but four years later everything is great.”
The band lists the likes of Foo Fighters, Arcane Roots, Placebo and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Funeral For A Friend, among their musical influences, and there’s elements of all of those and more in The Great Depression: Act I.
Opening track Light The Way gives you a great taste of the Calling Apollo sound, with big rock chords feeding into lingering, slow-building verses that give way to unrelentingly big choruses. The vocals are delicate one minute yet powerfully piercing the next and they’ve got an uncanny ability to write massive rock tracks – both in terms of them being really good and really long.
There’s certainly a refreshing feel to Calling Apollo, their music is difficult to pinpoint to one exact genre and there’s all manner of variations within their tracks. Five out of six tracks on Act I extend beyond five minutes, while Act I: House of Cards is somewhat of an epic at a mighty 8:05 in length. Check it our for yourself in the video below:
Tracks like Clone City and Obelisk sound like a heavy version of Placebo, with Neale’s high-pitched vocals complemented by big guitar riffs and driving drums, which give way to huge solos – particularly a big rocking solo mid-way through the latter. Speaking of which, …and the High Plateau brings the EP to an end with an almighty smash of heavy rock and fast, darting guitar riffs.
Christian explained: “To start with, we refuse to follow trends. That will just make our music seem forced and dated very quickly. While we’re primarily a rock band, we’ll take inspiration from anything, which will lead us to have aggressive sections, calm and peaceful sections, melodic sections, rocking sections – we try to do everything.”
Calling Apollo will be busy touring through 2017 as they already have tours booked in with Diamond Days and Elasea. The former begins in Hereford on February 15th, followed by consecutive evenings in Worcester, Pwllheli (in north Wales) and Whitchurch. They’ll also be recording and releasing The Great Depression: Act II, so keep your eyes out for that.