english > John Petkovic (SWEET APPLE)

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John Petkovic (SWEET APPLE)

How did you come up with the idea to form Sweet Apple?

We formed by accident -- there was never much of an idea. I was experiencing a very difficult time in my life on so many levels. I was lost so many ways. At one point I just got in my car and drove. I really didn't have a destination. I just wanted to drive, smoke cigarettes and listen to music. Then Dave, who is a longtime time friend, called me, asking what was going on. Oddly enough, I was about two hours from Vermont, where he lives. He thought it was crazy that I was just driving aimlessly. Anyway, I went to his house and then J came over and we figured we should start a project. We had always thought about doing something; this was the time.

You came from different bands with different styles in music. Who writes the lyrics and music for Sweet Apple?

We all come from different bands, but there are many connections between those bands. I met J while he was in Dinosaur Jr and I was in a band called Death of Samantha. Some years later, he played on an album by another band I play in, Cobra Verde. He also joined the band to play guitar on tour. I sang on J's second J Mascis and the Fog record, "Free so Free." I was already friends with Dave for a long time and he came over while we were recording. He met J and they became friends and ended up playing together in a band called Witch. As for Sweet Apple songs, I come up with the song structures and words and we all fill it all in with various ideas.
[ sweet apple ]

sweet apple   © Andrew Kesin

Your second album "The Golden age of Glitter" is out now. Tell us something about it?

The theme of the songs revolves around destinations, escape, arrivals and departures. It goes with the reoccurring theme of the new album and the video for "Wish You Can Stay (A Little Longer). The video was shot from one coast to another, from New York to Los Angeles, and is connected by paper airplanes. Basically, we're all scattered all over the country so every get-together is an adventure, an escape. It gives us a different perspective on being in a band from different regions, parts of the country. Every get-together is basically a reunion. And yet that's kind of what I find interesting about Sweet Apple. I came up with the first song for the record -- "Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)" -- while we were on tour. We all flew in from different places and airports to meet in Seattle, which was the first stop on a West Coast tour. We came in a night early, for our one and only practice. On one hand, you'd think it's insane doing a band like this. On the other, there's a newness to it; it's like we're starting over and doing something new every time. Sweet Apple is a band of connecting flights and airports and that is also in an ongoing theme. I've never been in a band before where the band became the theme -- where there was such a wide gulf between the destination and getting there.

Mark Lanegan, Robert Pollard and Rachel Haden are guests on the album. Are there any other artist that you would like to play with?

They're all friends and it just happened that they were around and in the studio and added vocals to the album. We have an entire other record that is almost done and they're on that one also. Sweet Apple is as much a club as a band -- so I'm sure we could have other people play on things. Mike Watt makes an appearance in a couple videos -- he's a longtime friend and someone I always like working with in any capacity.

You did video for the first single. I read somewhere that there will be six of them. Why six? Why not ten?

We would do 10 if we could. But it just takes a lot of time to do these. We're already finishing our next record so we're trying to get as much as we done on that while trying to do things for "The Golden Age of Glitter."

Song/Album that changed your life?

I think a lot of times people think of a record that changed their life -- some sort of visa into a new world. I look back at the album covers that changed my life, because I bought so many records based on the album artwork. This has been marginalized with the rise of the mp3, but it was a big thing for someone getting into music in isolation, with no real navigational devices except a hunch that, "This looks cool, it must be cool." I remember the Velvet Underground's "Loaded" working that way. I bought it because that subway station on the cover looked like my kind of band. I bought Public Image Limited's "Flowers of Romance" for the same reason -- the woman on the cover looked like my kind of band. The list is long and I can't think of one album that changed my life -- because I always think back at the excitement I got by seeing some killer cover and getting excited to hear the music. Because I knew I would like it. I could tell, my hunch was almost always correct.

Which do you prefer, CD, vinyl or mp3?

I understand why we have all three. Many people don't like mp3 because of the poor sound. And that's true, it doesn't sound good -- and I don't like to listen to mp3s. But the mp3 is this time's equivalent of those little portable radios from the 1960s - poor sound, but portable. I think many people have turned against the CD, but it's inexpensive to make and you get good sound quality. I love vinyl, but many people think vinyl is automatically better just because it's vinyl. That can be true, however, it is often a matter of nostalgia for some other time. Old records that came out on vinyl were recorded on analog tape -- not digital format. So, if the record was recorded on digital, it doesn't mean that it's going to be 'warmer' just because it's on vinyl. In the end, we can argue the best ways to listen to music -- but a great songs transcends the device you use to hear it.

What do you listen when you're at home, on tour, right now…?

I always listen to music. A lot of times, it's old music that I've discovered. A lot of times, it's a band I see live. I just saw Man Forever, which is the side project of the drummer of the band Oneida. I really liked them. Our label mates Earthless have a good record that just came out. I've been looking into all kinds of music from Europe, including the Balkans, or researching Jamaican dub, like King Tubby. Always something to listen to...

pedja // 24/04/2014


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