As much a collector of stories as a songwriter, James Apollo is set to release his new album Angelorum on Monday (June 3). From rescuing the record's tapes from a burning studio, to getting his bandmates to sleep quarters under "fashionable bridges" the record is a collection of tales inspired travelling and touring. Not only can you exclusively stream the album below, but in a guest column Apollo has written us a short story from the road.
I had arrived at Heathrow a few hours before. A few hours before, that is, we were broken down on the side of M1 45 minutes outside of London. 45 minutes. 30 miles maybe? My bandmate Bobby looked quizzically at the two flat tires on the van. How does this happen? Or rather, how does this happen continually. On any given James Apollo tour, roadside calamity is a state of being.
Like the time we were on the north side of Death Valley taking an atajo into Los Angeles. The map advised us to cut through a farmer's field. I saw no one around. Who knew when this map was made. We turned in and rolled through the dirt doubletrack. The farmer spent little time racing towards us in his powder blue pickup, gun rack clearly outlined in the morning sun. "You lost?" he said, with a spit, an immense hound staring us down from the back of his truck. "That's a nice looking dog," I lied.
I explained the situation and the intended destination. For being a couple hundred miles away, Los Angeles was a close to this man as Budhapest, and he could've cared less if it fell into the ocean. The man pointed me in the direction of another road, just on the other side of the hill. Bobby pulled the van around and we edged back on to the main road. As we approached the intended turnoff, I noticed a knocked-down road closed sign, but wouldn't make the connection for some time.
An hour later we were winding through the bottom of a canyon, stopping every 15 minutes to rebuild parts of road with rocks where the spring rains had cut deep holes in our path. It was slow going. In another couple hours we were deep, deep in it. We couldn't find our way back if we tried, but I was too stubborn to turn around anyway. Water was out. Gas was low. Temperature on the dashboard said 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Are those buzzards?
Kunckles got whiter. Sweat curled up in my eyebrows. It was my kind of shortcut. You don't get used to it. We spent the next four hours going through 100 miles of ancient desert trails, abandoned mines, and even the largest sand dune in the Western Hemisphere (though I might beg to differ that Peru takes that claim). The tour van was less-than-off-road-ready. Nerves rose with the afternoon heat. I started to wonder who we'd have to sacrifice first. Best to make those decisions ahead of time. Not only did we have a show to play that night, but the thought of burning up in some desert hole at the bottom of the American desert was sounding less romantic by the minute.
It was time to shake it off. The road started leveling out. I saw an old sign letting me know that we weren't far off the main path. i started to hear the trucks. We saw the road, heat waves rising off the black heavy pavement. Then we pulled up to a heavily barricaded ROAD CLOSED sign, with a steel cable going from one side to the other. Once again, I was on the wrong side of the line.
There was no cutting their cable. Jack and I got out and held it up while Bobby pulled the van slowly through. I got on the roof and tried to minimize the damage. A few scrapes and a nursed grudge here and there, but overall, simple. Back in civilization. Back on the straight path. We made the show in plenty of time. I drank water. That farmer can die laughing for all care. James Apollo
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