Sweet Apple goes for sweet cover
Now that we have your attention
Most bands are brought together by guitars, amps and drums. Sweet Apple formed after tragedy, out of friendship, on a miserable day in Vermont. At first glance, the rock ‘n’ roll quartet might seem like one of those “indie-rock supergroup” sideshows. Yes, J. Mascis (drums/guitar/vocals) plays in Dinosaur Jr. Tim Parnin (guitar) and John Petkovic (vocals/guitar) play in Cobra Verde. Dave Sweetapple (bass/vocals) plays in Witch. But Sweet Apple was born of a death — and a cross country drive. Totally by chance.
It was rainy morning in December when John Petkovic got in his car heading eastward. He had no destination in mind, let alone plans for a band. He just wanted to drive away. “My mother had just died after a long, horrible illness,” he says. “And I’d been totally devastated by so many things, all at once. I’d lost so much weight. I couldn’t eat or sleep. All I did was smoke cigarettes, one and after another after another.”
John got in his car and went for a long smoke. Four hundred miles from his hometown of Cleveland, and out of the blue, he received a phone call from friend Dave Sweetapple. “I couldn’t believe he was driving around aimlessly,” says Sweetapple, of Brattleboro, Vt. “When I found out he was so close to Vermont I told him to come over.” Dave also called their mutual friend J. Mascis, who lives nearby in Amherst, Ma., and told him to come over. J did, and told John to start writing a bunch of songs when he got back home – so they could start a band.
John hadn’t played guitar for months. He came up with four songs on the ride home – including “I Can’t See You,” with its haunting refrain, “I drove and drove and drove and drove. And drove and drove and drove and drove.” Within three weeks, John was jamming with CV bandmate Tim Parnin – and they whittled 25 songs down to 12.
“Out of the blue, we had an album full of catchy tunes,” says Parnin. “It’s one of the weirdest things I’ve experienced playing in bands.” Even weirder, many of the songs are upbeat – fun and mockingly funny, with loud, brash guitars. “Do You Remember” is a driving anthem. “I’ve Got a Feeling That Won’t Change” is wounded pop. “Flying Up a Mountain” is a nihilist singalong.
Love & Desperation was recorded in Cleveland and Massachusetts. It was mixed by John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, The Hold Steady) and Don Depew (Guided By Voices, Cobra Verde). “I tell people that I saved John’s life by starting this band,” says Mascis. “But they don’t believe me.”
Sweet Apple is:
J. Mascis – Guitar god in Dinosaur Jr.; drummer in Witch. Played with Cobra Verde for a spell. Owns hundreds of guitar pedals and dozens of Adidas. Favorite color is purple. Worked in a coffee shop in India, even though he doesn’t drink coffee. Spends a lot of money at Whole Foods.
Tim Parnin – Guitarist in Cobra Verde. Plays guitar with former Faith No More singer Chuck Mosely. Former clothing designer. Cleveland Cavaliers season ticket holder. Partied with Shaq.
John Petkovic – Frontman for Cobra Verde. Still gets acting residuals from “The OC.” Former aid to the Crown Prince of Yugoslavia. Ex-guitarist in Guided by Voices. Writes about bars and movies for Cleveland’s daily newspaper. Working on underwear-themed art show. Smokes less, eats more gummy bears.
Dave Sweetapple – Bassist in Witch. Native of Newfoundland, Canada (where they beat baby seals). Prefers rock over free jazz. Grew his hair long after seeing a photo of the Alice Cooper Band. Collects rare mushrooms. Trains a best-in-breed Scottish Deerhound named Cyril.