Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
The Song Of The Wandering Aengus (W.B. Yeats)
Formed in New York City in 1967, SILVER APPLES combined the rhythmic freeform drumming of Danny Taylor with the avant garde electronic experimentation of Simeon Coxe, who created his own primitive synth ‘The Simeon’ out of a 1940’s vintage oscillator.
Their first record Silver Apples was released in 1968, and not only predated bands like Can, Neu and Suicide, but also anticipated many of the subsequent decades’ broken beats and industrial drones.
After the release of a second LP, Contact, the enigmatic group seemed to disappear, only to reform three decades later, with the original lineup of Taylor and Coxe eventually releasing their third record The Garden in 1989.
Coxe is recognised as a true visionary, and has been cited as a major influence by musicians such as Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3. I did this brief interview with him prior to his Cavern show….
Your work predated so many electronic genres, from Krautrock to Industrial. What inspired you to experiment with the oscillators and The Simeon?
I had a friend who was a classical music composer who had an oscillator and used to drink vodka and play along with Beethoven. One day, when he was passed out, I put on a rock record and played along- I was hooked! The next night I brought it to the club where my band was playing and plugged it into an amp and jammed along with them. They hated it, but I loved it, and never stopped. Every show Silver Apples put on was an adventure. The audience didn’t know what to expect and when we delivered, were either stunned or on their feet dancing. Same as today.
You had the two LPs out on Kapp … then a 30 year gap before they were re-released by MCA. What’s the story behind that? I heard there were loads of bootlegs around, did you benefit at all from them or was it a total ripoff?
MCA owned KAPP, so it was natural for them to do the re-release. As to the rest, they were total rip-offs but they sort of indirectly jump started the resurgence of interest in what we were doing.
Countless bands have been heavily influenced by Silver Apples over the years (LOOP, Spacemen 3 – right through the dance movement.) Are there any collaborations you have worked on that stand out?
I did an album with Peter Kember aka Sonic Boom of Spacemen3 called A Lake of Teardrops. It was released on SpaceAge Recordings and did well. I also did an album with a band from Somerset called The Alchemysts that made album of the week in the London Sunday Times. That was cool. I did a song for a German label with Alan Vega of Suicide that was fun.
People like Brian Eno have recently been experimenting with new technology, like iPhone Apps. Does any of this stuff interest you?
I’m still trying to learn how to play oscillators!
We’re going to be screening a preview of the Silver Apples Documentary before you play at the Cavern. Could you tell me a bit about that film?
I’ve only seen bits and pieces and rough edits- but I can say it’s packed with information about the band and its adventures.
When you’re not making music do you still paint? What other artists interest you (painters/filmmakers/writers)
Yeah I still paint and do performance and installation art. I particularly like the work of media artists like Bec Stupak and Seth Kirby, video artist Alyson Denny, musician Nick Hallett, all of whom are connected with the Joshua Light Show that I love to perform with. Mike Kelly’s electronic paintings/installations are always fascinating. I recently saw a performance piece by Elizabet Elliot and Adam Taylor/OneCutKill that was unique. Lots of stuff going on!
Silver Apples, the first and most radical avant-rock band, play at the Cavern on Tues 3 Aug following a special preview of a new film about them, Of The Moon.