There is no shortcut to adulthood. The bumps must be ridden out until bits of wisdom have a chance to collect; through shitty break-ups, lonely recalibrations of friendships, interests that get abandoned or shuffled and integrated into daily routines, new paths worn around increasingly familiar adopted city streets, and so on. There is also no shortage of musicians acknowledging and processing this transition out of adolescence through their creative output. Nashville 5-piece Apollo Wild, which No Country For New Nashville calls “arena-ready alt-rock that packs a punch while supplying plenty of authenticity and depth,” have an excellent potential entry into the canon with their forthcoming debut, No Love Lost.
Apollo Wild formed in 2014 in the midst of its collective members major life changes: leaving school, changing cities, starting and ending romantic relationships and finding like minds with whom to jam. Reece Presson (vocals/guitar) from Texas and Ethan Barton (vocals/guitar) from Ohio met in college in Fort Worth and moved to Nashville upon graduation. They added Alex Rodriguez (drums) from Virginia, Chris Malone (bass) and Parker Donaldson (guitar), both from Pennsylvania, before the latter was replaced with another PA native, Phil Campbell (guitar), nine days before they entered the studio to record their 5-song debut, which was tracked at Glass Onion Recordings and produced by JD Tiner & Markus Midkiff.
“The themes of the album as a whole cover growth, fear, loss, love, loss of love, but mainly, ignoring issues that eventually have to be dealt with,” says Presson.
For title track and first single “No Love Lost,” about which No Country For New Nashville said, “the group mix the cutting lyrical honesty of Ryan Adams with the fun, infectious quality of polished bands like The Killers,” captures Presson’s struggle to process a relationship gone bad, as he sings:
“A couple months before I turned 26 my baby told me that I don’t know shit.
She said well I just ain’t lived enough life, She said I still had to earn my stripes.”
Presson reveals about the song:
At the time I was numb to how much pain and betrayal I was feeling; to how much I was being forced to try to change who I am. I couldn’t see beyond my feelings for her.…[“No Love Lost”] was me trying to step back, gain perspective, and see what things I could learn about myself from the relationship.
The album’s closing track and second single “Shaky Knees” is a bittersweet look back on what Presson left behind when he uprooted to transplant to Nashville. It’s the the only finger-picked track on the album, and it’s the oldest of the batch. Presson says of the song:
‘Shaky Knees’ is the first song I wrote after moving to Nashville. I’d never lived anywhere other than Texas, so there was a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in moving. When I wrote ‘Shaky Knees,’ I was struggling to make new friends, trying to fit into a new lifestyle, a new job, and was battling some pretty nasty cocaine dependency. The process of writing ‘Shaky Knees’ actually really helped me work through a lot of the things I was struggling with. The whole song is about connecting to and loving your past, but not allowing that to keep you from jumping headlong into your future. It’s a tale of fear, anxiety, nostalgia, but also of exploration, understanding, growth, and ultimately, of conquering. I suppose that, in short, ‘Shaky Knees’ is my love ballad to Texas, to youth, to family, and to the future.
Let’s go for a ride in our old town tonight, just like before the wounds and all the city lights.
When we’d dye our hair and we’d ride our bikes, chasing every girl and staying out all night.
We moved east, we found a place, and it felt like our own orphanage.
I never wanted to live to see my friends go, but my old friends don’t know me anymore.
Where did my friends go?
Now we forgot the names of the streets we grew up on and we’re looking back
Through someone else’s eyes to remember joy and pain and all the wasted time,
You remember joy and pain and all the wasted time?
So I grew my hair long and i ran for the hills, well I picked up a trade and i feigned some skills,
But are we chasing our dreams or just living life,
Do we even remember that big sky?
Well let’s leave behind our shaky knees, let’s go back to our childhood dreams.
No Love Lost is set for release on Valentine’s Day with a release show at The High Watt with Kelsey Kopecky (Kopecky Family Band) and Kneel Jung.