Apollo Cobra expand meaning of Motherland for benefit concert

Apollo Cobra is headlining the Motherland benefit concert at Icehouse

Apollo Cobra is headlining the Motherland benefit concert at Icehouse

Motherland: A Benefit for Bobbie and Jeannie| Icehouse| Friday, August 22
Synth-rockers Apollo Cobra are donating their time -- and the name of their 2012 album, Motherland -- to the cause of a pair of long-time friends stricken with cancer.

Later this month, the group will play one of their only local shows of the summer at Icehouse with pop quartet Verskotzi to raise funds and support for Roberta "Bobbie" Anderson and Jeannie Piekos. Also set to perform at the Rock the Cause event are rockers Astrobeard, which features Bobbie's son-in-law, Ben Myers-Petro.

Gimme Noise caught up with Apollo Cobra's Aaron Stoehr and Dylan Nau to discuss the importance of the event, their connections to the courageous women, and to find out what's next for the band.


Gimme Noise: The benefit is named after your 2012 album, Motherland. How did you first get involved in the benefit, and when did you first hear about the inspiriting stories of Bobbie and Jeannie?

Aaron Stoehr: Bobbie's son Mark has been a close friend of my wife and I for years, and actually officiated our wedding. When you hear about illness or tragedy in the family of a friend, it can really make you feel helpless. You try to be supportive, but I always feel like there's nothing I can actively do to help. So when Mark started organizing the benefit, I was like, "Yes!" I can do something I'm good at, make a great party, and raise some money that will do real, immediate good.

Music certainly has a way of uniting a community behind a cause, as well as lifting people's spirits.

Dylan Nau: We're super honored. There is a personal connection for us as well, and we have always prided ourselves in being involved in events that are fun, but can potentially help other people. We played at Zach Sobiech's concert! It was so awesome to be there with him at that time. We had fun, he had fun, the audience had soooo much fun, it was amazing.

Icehouse will be a pretty intimate venue for your performance style.

DN: I have never seen people dancing at the Icehouse because it's usually more high-end jazz happening on stage which doesn't always lend well to dancing. If any of our regular friends are there, expect for butts shaking in your face.

AS: We're already planning to recruit fans to move tables. I hope it can be a really fun night where all Bobbie and Jeannie's friends and families can shake off the gloom and get down together while supporting their loved ones.

How was your experience at Pride this year?

AS: We had a fantastic time! It was our third year in a row playing the Pride Beer Dabbler -- they're calling us a "tradition" now. It's the perfect event and cross-section of Minneapolis for us: half flamboyant Pride dance party, half bearded beer geeks.

Your last album came out a couple years ago. What can you share with us about how the new material is taking shape?

DN: Yeah, we have lots of material that's just sitting there waiting to be recorded and finished. Been very hard to find time to get together and finish it all. Nearly five songs are in the can and ready to go. We went back to our early roots on a couple songs, dusted off some super old songs that disappeared after we found our more current sound. It's been fun re-hashing a couple older ones and really putting some energy and dirt into them. We record mostly in our studio but took a song over to Miles Hanson at Creation Audio and laid down a live track. No drum machines or click track, just a good 'ole live jam. Took us about three hours total, and then we sent it off to our buddy David Kutchara to have a go at the mix since we kinda wanted some completely fresh ears try to mx it.

I was really feeling iffy about the recording thinking we may not have a take, but he sends back this huge mix and I got pumped! it sounds rad. This is a very different recording for us as we usually spend tons of hours down in the studio really fine tuning everything and playing to a click. I guess we are feeling right now like we can do anything we want, record any way we want and that's how it should be. We finally are not really chasing that rock and roll dream, we just really enjoy writing songs, practicing them and playing them for people and hauling our gear and having friends come out and making a difference, its one of the best feelings in the world. I think most people are in bands because it's make them feel a part of something, gives their life a bit more meaning to themselves.

Is it a challenge for you to capture the high-octane energy of your live show in a recording studio?

DN: It depends, some songs yes, some songs no. I definitely feel we make more instant fans after they see us live, to see that much sound coming off of three guys I think rattles some people. In the studio, I think it does translate because the energy is made up through the work we put into making it sound great. It's a hard thing to hear, but I think most peoples brains pick up on it and determine that indeed, yes, these guys rock.

What else is new in the always wild world of Apollo Cobra?

DN: Lately, we have not been very active as I have been super busy recording and touring with Nicholas David, and Jessie is soon to have a baby so I'm pretty sure he's freaking out all the time, and Aaron is going back to school this fall -- so rehearsals and especially performances are getting more rare, but heck, who knows?

We've just finished up recording a song for a Donovan compilation coming out next year with Rock the Cause. that we are super pumped about, and it features us again really working together in the studio to come up with something totally different than what we are used to doing. We have now come up with a better understanding of ways we can quickly and effectively come up with more songs and recordings, together. Looking forward to that and having time to really dig in and finish this album and have something new to be excited about.

To find out more about their inspiring stories, take a look at the Caring Bridge pages for both Bobbie Anderson and Jeannie Piekos, along with Bobbie's Fundly page.

MOTHERLAND: A Benefit for Bobbie and Jeannie
With Apollo Cobra, Verskotzi, and Astrobeard. A silent auction will also be a part of the event.
An anonymous donor has offered up to $10,000 in matching funds for every ticket and silent auction item sold. $10, 21+, 10 p.m., Friday, August 22. Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis. Tickets.

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