This year’s Doomed & Stoned Fest is approaching quickly! Eighteen bands from across the United States are bringing psychedelic riffs, stoner jams, and heavy righteous metal to Indiana City Beer on October 7th! One of my favorite and newly discovered acts playing the fest is Portland’s Ape Machine. If you’re a fan of 70s rock, you’re in for a real treat. These guys are described as “a rock and roll band with a finger on the pulse of the 70’s and their asses firmly in the present.” Guitarist Ian Watts was cool enough to answer a few questions via email about their influences, what fest goers can expect from their live show, and more!
Indy Metal Vault: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. One of things I dig about Ape Machine, is your vintage sound. You’re like an undiscovered gem from the 70s that could have played alongside acts like Bad Company, Deep Purple, and Edgar Winter. When you got together, how intentional was it to create that vibe or was it something that just happened naturally?
Ian Watts: It just happened naturally.Three of us had already been playing together in different bands and those bands had very different sounds from Ape Machine. But when we started this band, we stopped thinking about trying to play a certain style or genre and we just sort of defaulted to our roots. We all grew up in households that listened to records constantly; many of which were from that era, so it was more subconscious than intentional.
IMV: What are some of your favorite classic rock bands from the 70s and how did you get into them? What’s a band from that period that you would have loved the opportunity to tour with?
IW: Too many to list haha.. and still discovering more. I mean, if you want names well, we listen to the ones you already mentioned like Deep Purple, Edgar Winter, Bad Company but also Scorpions, Yesterday’s Children, Bang, Ars Nova, Dust, Foreigner, King Crimson, Sweet, Blue Oyster Cult, Mountain, Armageddon, Wishbone Ash, Tucky Buzzard, Captain Beyond, Rainbow, Budgie, Uriah Heep and the list goes on and on. Sometimes we break out the Willie Nelson too, haha. Tour wise, I’m willing to bet most of those bands would have been a blast to tour with. I mean, for the sake of crowds, someone like Deep Purple or Zeppelin of course, but for musical nerd fun, maybe King Crimson or Budgie; hard to know without knowing the guys personally.
IMV: Speaking of Edgar Winter, I love your cover of “Frankenstein” (“Ape’n’tein”). You guys make it your own, but stay faithful to the original. How did covering that song come about?
IW: Thanks! We enjoy playing it. It’s one we’ve wanted to do for a long time. We needed another song for our EP on Heavy Psych Sounds so we finally got around to doing it.
IMV: I understand that you guys use a lot of vintage gear. Can you walk us through your rigs?
IW: Rigs are simple. My (Ian’s) guitar rig is a Les Paul classic through a 74 Orange or 120 and Brian’s is a Randall Switchmaster 150 head into 2×15 Sunn cab. Drums are sort of a composite kit of Premier and Ludwig.
IMV: Ripple Music is one of our favorite labels and you’ve been with them since 2013. How did you get hooked up with the label and what’s the experience been like?
IW: Ripple is great. We became friends with Ripple immediately after our first self-released album. They did a review and we stayed in contact as we did our second record. When it was time for the third album, we decided we wanted to work with a label and started talking to one, but didn’t like their contract. At that point we hit up Ripple and told them what was going on. They were totally on cool and took us on, and we’ve been working together since (aside from the Heavy Psych EP).
IMV: You guys have been touring quite a bit. Any city that you particularly like playing?
IW: Yeah, we beat up our vans hah.. Man, the correct answer is every city! But it’s also pretty true. We like different places for different things, but that’s not usually related to the actual show. For example, we love burritos in San Diego and we love boiled peanuts in the South and barbecue in Texas, fireworks in New Mexico. But when it comes to playing and crowds, every night is a blast.
IMV: You’re making an appearance at this year’s Doomed & Stoned Festival. What can fans expect from your live set?
IW: Yes! Very excited to rock at the festival. Going to be killer for sure. Live, people can expect some new material! We haven’t put out a record in a while and have since written another one so they’ll hear some new stuff!
IMV: What’s next for Ape Machine? I saw on your Facebook that you’ve been hitting the studio lately. When can fans expect a new album?
IW: Yeah, new album is next on the agenda. It’s already recorded and will be mixed next month. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be released by the festival, but it will be coming soon. Just have to check the labels release schedule and get the artwork ready..Who knows? Maybe, we’ll finally do a video haha. It is the YouTube age after all.