MP3 Apple Betty - Let´s Play!
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12 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Punk, POP: Beatles-pop
Read an Interview with Apple Betty in the Boston Phoenix August 2005
BY MATT ASHARE
Apple Betty have never recorded in a professional studio. The raucous, homonymous, seven-song demo they sell at shows is just that: a seven-song demo they recorded on a portable four-track in a rehearsal studio the size of a modest walk-in closet. And with the exception of bassist Jessica Rodden, who spent a year or two in the local indie band the In-Out a decade ago, the members had never set foot on stage in front of a paying audience until a little over a month ago at the Kirkland, when the punk-blooze duo Mr. Airplane Man invited the trio to play an opening set. The following night was show #2: opening for the Coffin Lids in front of a packed house at the Abbey. Gig #3 completed a hat trick of coveted slots, this time joining the Chris Brokaw Rock Band at the behest of Brokaw (Come, Consonant, the New Year, etc. . . ) himself as he debuted his latest incarnation. Itâs been a quick start for a trio of rock grrrls who all seem to have been waiting patiently for the right opportunity.
"Jessicaâs the professional in the band," offers singer/guitarist Kerri-Ann Richard, as she, drummer Caroline Toth, and Rodden meet me at the B-Side Lounge in Cambridge to discuss the seemingly sudden appearance of Apple Betty on the local scene. "Caroline and I had never been in a real band before. We were pretty green."
Toth had taken a few drum lessons from Brokaw, who though better known for his guitar playing in Come and in Mission of Burma bassist Clint Conleyâs other band, Consonant, also played drums in slo-core band Codeine and continues to do so whenever the New Year convene. And Richard started playing guitar and writing songs when she was in college. But all three members of Apple Betty were busy building careers outside music until fate intervened just over a year ago â Toth as a documentary filmmaker, Richard in the field of environmental engineering ("We clean up a lot of hazardous waste sites," she deadpans), and Rodden as a social worker.
"Jessica and I have known each other for 10 years," Richard explains. "We went to school at UMass-Lowell and worked at WJUL radio station up there. Weâve always had a musical connection. As soon as I met her, I said, âOh, youâre going to be the bass player in my band some day.â It was musical love at first sight. We used to play all kinds of music on the radio, like bluegrass and stuff. Iâd bring my acoustic guitar down to the radio show and weâd pick out a couple of songs. It was pretty informal. But sheâs known all of my original material as soon as I write it â she knows songs from 10 years ago that Iâve completely forgotten. So, Iâm 30 now, sheâs getting married, and it was like, âAre we going to have this goddamn band now or what?â You know, our lives are moving on and itâs no longer when we have a band. It just so happened that as soon as we started taking it seriously, a mutual friend introduced me to Caroline. The first time the two of us got together, I bared my soul and played her all my songs."
"I remember I was told that Kerri was looking for people to play music with," Toth says. "I met her at a party, and then I saw her at the grocery store, and I was just like, âLetâs play.â "
"That was in May of 2004,"Richard continues. "Itâs kind of corny to say, but it just clicked immediately."
"I think it was important that we had a practice space we could just go to and plug in and play," Toth recalls.
"Yeah, it was easy, we were eager, and it just fit," Richard says, finishing off Tothâs thought.
Richard is a natural frontperson â she beams with confidence, speaks her mind, and is never at a loss for words. And Toth and Rodden keep the trio grounded in their own ways. They may not be eager teens anymore, but theyâve got the infectious enthusiasm of a young garage band discovering the joys of rock and roll. Itâs that same intangible quality Red Sox fans refer to when they say Kevin Millarâs a "good clubhouse guy." Apple Betty are the kind of band who can stick a "sex and drugs and rock and roll" refrain in a song and get people to sing along. The cover of the Beatles "Norwegian Wood" that closes out the Apple Betty CD strips the familiar original down to basics â pounding drums, a driving bass line, and fast-strummed Ramonesy barre chords. At the same time, Richardâs fandom runs deep: among her favorites are the dark and stormy Wipers, an obscure Seattle band led by Greg Sage whose "Tragedy" Apple Betty also cover.
"At shows, Iâm always the girl who people are almost mad at because Iâm up in front dancing and bumping into people," Richard admits."
"Yeah," Toth laughs, "Kerri is uncharacteristically New England at shows: she likes to dance and sing along, and I think bands really appreciate that."
"Entertaining people is pretty cool," Richard reflects. "Thatâs always been part of my personality anyway. But now that Iâm doing it in a band . . . the spotlight is so great. Itâs funny because I know people from bands who will say jaded things, and I just think that weâll never get jaded."
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