“I didn’t buy a guitar for two years after Little Green Cars broke up”

Stevie Appleby – previously a core member of one of the most successful Irish bands of the past 10 years, Little Green Cars, which without him transformed into Soda Blonde in 2019 – ponders the word ‘exile’.

“I think describing him like that would be very appropriate,” he says.

It’s been a while since Appleby showed his face. When Little Green Cars stopped, only to return unexpectedly with the loss of a co-founding member, a name change and a new direction, the immediate thoughts (i.e. outside of the members of the band, who were diplomatic to the extreme) surrounding Appleby’s absence was the tried and true, reliable, and simplified explanation for the musical differences. There are several grains of truth in there, at least superficially, but it goes further.

“To me and my mind, the band,” says Appleby, “was like an old workaholic who didn’t budge. We whipped him and whipped him until we f ** king whipped him to death. We left the label [Glassnote] because they wanted us to start making EDM music [electronic dance music], to which we said f ** k that. So we left the tag and were a bit rudderless. Then the guys wanted to do some kind of popular music like they do now in Soda Blonde, but I wanted to do more moderate music. In the end, we both got what we wanted – they do what they love, and I do what I love.

“What’s in my poetry is definitely as important as what’s in my music. These are just two different colors of the same painting ‘

There isn’t a hint of annoyance or resentment here, but perhaps more regret that some sort of mutually inclusive deal couldn’t be struck. When I ask him if it’s just musical differences, he says, “Basically, yes. Pause. “Kind of.” And that’s all. A silence stretches towards the horizon, so we move on.

Appleby’s response to a question about why it has kept such a low profile since 2019, however, is a possible reason for this turn of events. While Soda Blonde gained momentum almost immediately after the implosion of Little Green Cars, Appleby’s absence was first visible, then worrying, then not even considered. He was, let’s suppose, just another member of the group who bit the dust, a victim of changing circumstances. As sure as there is a U2 song you don’t like, it has happened and will happen again, but the fact that Appleby played such a pivotal role in the exhilarating music produced by Little Green Cars stung it. consciousness.

The Appleby we knew was a songwriter in substance, a memorable and endearing performer. The advent of the coronavirus may have been a valid but practical reason to keep a low profile, but it seems Appleby’s non-appearance was due to something much more personal.

“Well,” he begins, a little hesitantly, “I’ve spent much of the last three years very poorly, and I haven’t really played or written music. I didn’t buy a guitar for about two years after the split from Little Green Cars. I was disappointed with the whole music scene and I became a hermit. We feel that we are walking on private property here, so we ask him if he would prefer not to discuss it. He’s doing well, he said, up to a point. “It’s hard for me to talk about it,” he warns, “because on the one hand, I would like to be some sort of mental health advocate, but I’m actually not good enough to do it. right now. I have always been willing to speak openly about my struggles and how it could possibly help other people. Right now, however, I don’t think I could face the pressure of being a true advocate of this. I have suffered from my mental health since I was about 15 years old. Another silence arrives, this one long enough to tell you that it is time to change the subject.

“The exile, despite his suffering, still keeps a sense of humor. I mention a tweet from his reference to his recent Other Voices gig, which was his re-emergence as a performer and the first time he blinked in the light of a stage light for nearly three years. The “The comeback kid” tweet was generally offhand, wasn’t it? A sheepish Appleby says, “yeah, that was,” but he’s only half kidding. The recently released music (a four-track EP featuring melodious “subdued” folk-pop that fans of Little Green Cars music will certainly admire) features Appleby’s return as a serious contender. The show may have temporarily disappeared from his life, he says, but the art (he’s also an awesome visual artist and poet) has always been there. “When I left school at 16,” he recalls with a smile, “every time I ordered pizza, I used the boxes as canvas. My plan was to sell the canvas and use the money to buy another pizza, and so on, then I would show all of my pizza box canvas to [St] Stephen’s Green.

“I just have to get the audience to know me through the music and hopefully want to be my friend”

Art has always been the place, the sanctuary, he continues, where he has felt and feels best. “If I can’t write, then I can draw. If I don’t know how to draw, I can write, but I have to go from one to the other to understand what is really going on in my life. Art, he adds, is the way it is best expressed. “Art was and is the least self-destructive medium.”

The expression continues with the new songs. How long did he have them in his back pocket before deciding to save them and take them out? They go back quite a long way, he admits, with the exception of the song Rusty, one of the most plaintive and pretty you’ll have this year or next. “It was the first song I’d written in about two years – out of necessity, however, because the woman I loved was walking away, and I had to let her know how I felt. The other three songs I’ve had for a while, but they were too abstract I guess for Little Green Cars, so I just kept them under my belt.

What does he think of playing shows? One word: “Terrified”. He usually goes to bed quite early, he says. “It’s around 8pm, so I don’t know how I’m going to be able to stay awake to play concerts!” But, yeah, I can’t wait to play again and share these songs. The reaction from people so far has been kind, and it’s inspiring. I have these songs that I haven’t played in front of anyone, that I haven’t even left the room with.

Part of his apprehension, he implies, is that with solo exhibitions, “there’s no one to fall back on. These songs are more personal, however. It’s not just about trying to write a hit single but rather trying to get something across so I just have to get the audience to know me through the music and hopefully , please be my friend. I just finished writing the next EP and we will be going to the studio in December to record them, but I will have other musicians with me this time.

And what about his word / poetry? I remind Appleby that the last time I saw him on stage was at Kilkenny’s Set Theater a few years ago when Little Green Cars was so popular that he decided to debut selections for his poetry. . I notice that although he seemed quite vulnerable (he interpreted some of his poems with his back to the audience), he also came out as definitely himself and, in fact, somewhat detached from the group. He disagrees one way or the other, stating instead that his music and poetry are inseparable. “What’s in my poetry is definitely as important as what’s in my music. It’s just two different colors of the same painting, really, but I’m not sure if I read poetry at concerts yet.

A pleasant tone of half-reluctance and modesty arrives. And then, quite cheerfully, this friendliest artist says, “I thought I might because that might be a great way for people to get to know me.”

Stevie Appleby Appleby’s EP, released on Swoon City Music, is available on regular streaming platforms. His poetry and visual art can be viewed at stevieappleby.com

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