In a saturated music scene of garage rock and BURGER bands, experimental jazz band Apollo Bebop brings forth a refreshing sound of layered rhythms and clever rhymes. Since their formation exactly a year ago this month, this self-proclaimed jazzhop band from Santa Ana headlines numerous shows all over Orange County and celebrate with the release of their first EP, Sushi No Rubber (released for free on Bandcamp).
The band’s lineup are all in their early 20s and have known each other since their days in the high school band, save for 16 year-old drummer Donovan Cruz who is the youngest old soul in the group.
The five piece have figured out a contemporary marriage of jazz and hip-hop a la The Roots. Though they may not be the first to meld the two genres, they set themselves apart during their live performances with an aura of intense energy that swells the room and surges the atmosphere. “Jazz is misunderstood honestly. Most people think it’s noise or just soothing music — it can be anything. It can be angry, any emotion can be expressed through jazz and it’s color,” says bassist Dominick Cruz. “We have a jazz background and wanted to mesh that with hip-hop and it sounds pretty phat.”
Sushi No Rubber is a testament to the band’s writing and recording process. All songs were written, recorded, produced and mixed by the band members, themselves. “I knew there was going to be an element of grit, some rawness to it,” Dominick says. “It was hard trying to mix it. We found it really difficult keeping the raw emotion of how we sound when we perform live in the studio recording…Mixing is an art on it’s own.”
Inspired by innovators such as, A Tribe Called Quest, Hiatus Kaiyote, Chance the Rapper, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Sushi No Rubber feeds off MC, Brian Gomez aka Brian To Earth’s East Coast sounding drawl of stirring verses, most prominently in the title track. “I’ve been to a lot of hip-hop shows and there kinda boring to be honest but I go to a lot of hardcore and experimental rock shows and those are way more fun for me,” Gomez says.
During the climax of the title track, Gomez exposes his hardcore influences screaming into the mic as his band charges heavily behind him.
“I see how into it the singers get so when you see me perform,” Gomez says. “I mostly take those hardcore influences and incorporate that. That’s the whole ‘Sushi No Rubber’ thing, that’s why I love performing that song particularly, I just go hard and start screaming.” Established by the sonic textures of DeAndre Trevon Grover’s saxophone, Dominick Cruz on bass, Christopher Trimmer on guitar and Donovan Cruz on Drums. The song starts off with a “Bitches Brew” undertone—experimental, moody, and erratic with Brian To Earth coming into the song unapologetically avant garde with his aggressive lyrical energy. The songs displayed throughout the five-song entire EP showcases a musical vision that knows no boundaries.
The band isn’t slowing down anytime soon either, practicing two times a week, playing numerous shows in the community and a residency every Sunday at the Gypsy Den in Downtown SanTana, as Gomez puts it – “We’re solidifying our presence.” For this group, playing music is something that they have to do and need to do — expressing what they feel and providing people with a sound sorely missed in OC, until now.
Cynthia Rebolledo covers anything and everything food, culture and spirits.