You Me and Apollo on Songwriting, Divorce, and Sharing a Name With a Self-Help Book
Brent Cowles, the man behind the You Me and Apollo moniker, has strong connections to Arizona in spite of being a Colorado resident. Cowles spent a year in Phoenix working on an audio engineering degree, writing music, and collaborating with the River Jones Music Label.
Cowles is gearing up for a west coast tour that includes a CD release party in Phoenix in honor of debut full length album, Cards and Cheats, now available online. You Me and Apollo will perform at Modified Arts on Saturday, August 20 with Steff Koeppen and the Articles.
We recently caught up with Brent Cowles to discuss songwriting, pop punk glory days, divorce, and sharing a name with a self-help book.
Up on the Sun: What inspired you to start writing music?
Brent Cowles: I've always loved music. It's always been a passion of mine. I needed a ventilation system. I needed an outlet. I had some heavy personal experiences that needed to be put down on paper. I found putting it into song was the best way to do it, that's what music is to me, my way of venting.
UOTS: Have you had any formal vocal training?
BC: I've never had any training. I started singing when I was probably 10, in the car with headphones and my whole family being annoyed. Moved on from there and discovered that I could mimic people's voices that I really liked and eventually developed my own sound, and that's where I'm at now.
UOTS: Who did you like to mimic when you were annoying your family in the car?
BC: Back then it was like some bands that really only hold a sentimental value to me because they're pretty awful. I was singing to Mxpx and Relient K back then.
UOTS: Hey, some good ol' pop punk.
BC: Yep, some straight up, that's exactly what it was, it was kind of ridiculous.
UOTS: What about nowadays? What are some of your biggest influences?
BC: I really like to listen to a band called Dr. Dog. They're in Philadelphia and they're freakin' amazing. They strike a chord in my heart that's just very hard to get rid of. I'm kind of obsessed with them right now. I really like to listen to Wilco, they're definitely an underrated band today. I think they should be a lot bigger than they are. I really enjoy the Cold War Kids. I've been trying to listen to a lot of Bob Dylan, he interests me lately.
UOTS: I totally hear you on Wilco. I can't wait for the new record to come out.
BC: Right? They're so freaking good. I love listening to their live record from Chicago, it's just unreal how it doesn't sound exactly like the record but it's still just as good.
UOTS: Why do you go by You Me and Apollo instead of your actual name?
BC: I don't have a bad ass name to go by. I've never thought I should do a solo project and go by Brent Cowles, especially because no one knows how to say my last name. Everybody says kowls and it's coles, so I've just stopped trying to correct them.
I had a dog named Apollo and I used it in a sentence. As grammatically incorrect as it is, it stuck with me. It will be You Me and Apollo and then I was like 'holy shit I'm gonna use that as a band name.' It's been a solo project and I'm working on transitioning into a full band.
UOTS: I saw that some self-help book also has You Me and Apollo in the title.
BC: I had You Me and Apollo first on the internet. I had the Myspace You Me and Apollo, then this dude comes out with his book You Me and Apollo, it's about bipolar disorder. He sent me messages, he was like, 'yo dude, we should totally do a tour together, I'll read from my book and you do your songs.' I'm like, 'I think that's an awful idea because my songs have nothing to do with subject of your book and it would just be awkward.'
UOTS: You should get it trademarked.
BC: Luckily it is available in Colorado. As long as I get it soon, I'm golden.
UOTS: What were you doing before You Me and Apollo?
BC: Before You Me and Apollo, there was this band I was in called Seconds From Waiting, and we were pretty awesome and influenced by Taking Back Sunday and Brand New and all those bands. That was all I was really doing. I stopped doing that and just You Me and Apollo by myself and that's what it's been until recently. I've been working on getting a band together and we're gonna go on tour in September.
UOTS: I saw a post from River Jones saying you're looking to book some dates. Where are you planning on going?
BC: We're looking to do the whole west coast. We have a few dates in Arizona- Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson. Then we'll go over to San Diego and up until we hit Seattle and back down.
UOTS: How did you get involved with River Jones?
BC: I lived in Phoenix for about a year doing audio engineering school and ended up moving back to Colorado for awhile. I made friends with some bands in Phoenix and I noticed through them on the internet River Jones and I was in Colorado. I was like, 'Hey dude, just letting you know I like what you're doing.' He ended up saying, 'Hey, we love your stuff, if you're looking to do something in the future, just let us know.' I was like, 'Well hell yes, I do.'
We did the EP How to Swim, How to Rot, it's just a 5 song digital release. We did a west coast tour about two years ago. This is the first thing I've released since then. It took about a year to record it and it's been a few years or writing, I'm really proud of it, so we'll see what happens.
UOTS: Are you from Colorado originally and just came out here for a year or school?
BC: Yeah, I was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and went back and forth between there and Fort Collins. My family moved back and forth a couple times. When I was 18, I got married then moved to Arizona, did audio engineering school and went through a crazy, messy divorce and wrote some songs and got connected with River. Music is the focus since then.
UOTS: What are your future plans?
BC: I don't know about plans, we're going on tour in September, that's the biggest thing on my mind right now. Plans are kinda undecided after that. As far as goals go, I want to get to the point where I can pay all my bills paying music. I work at a group home for developmentally disabled adults and I love that. It's one of the best jobs I've ever had but music is my passion and it's what I want to do. Whatever I have to do to make that happen is the plan.
UOTS: Do you ever play music at your day job?
BC: I sing 24/7, I don't even realize it. I'm sure it gets really annoying to other people. I'm sure it's not annoying to clients when I'm just hanging out with them. I definitely like to introduce new music to the clients and try to get them as many opportunities to hear incredible music as I have.