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Interview: Mike Apichella of Human Host
by Joy Frenzy
Interview: Mike Apichella of Human Host
Four years ago I was taken to a show on some god-awful rainy day to see a handful of bands for a cheap cover. So many people, to my surprise, showed up despite the bad weather. Friends of mine had been talking up this band fronted by some guy named Mike Apichella. They came on stage and instantaneously blew the rest of the bands out of the water. Such a theatrical performance could only come from Baltimore's own Human Host.

Fast forward to two months ago. It is warm, not rainy, and quite late in the evening. I am running late, so late I have to meet up with Mike Apichella in his office. He precedes his reputation and is very understanding. This is a man who has fronted, promoted, and managed the same band for six plus years. Human Host is most known for their live performance and fluctuating cast and crew. What most don't know about is the band itself and Mr. Apichella, the business man that keeps the band going.

“I didn't really want it to be a band anyway.”, Mike leans over intently to the voice recorder. “I wanted it to be a name to put on a variety of very vague thematic elements.” Rehearsals aside, Human Host utilizes improvisation in their performance. The beats are arranged by the various people including Apichella. They range from medieval wizardry to bangin' hip hop modifications. Talent is key in provoking all the show goers' emotions. Primitive? No, more like a clashing of volumes of influences. But what about taking the devolved bandstand on tour, Mike enjoys it, “It is better than working a day job, even at its worst.” Right now Human Host is finishing up their 2 month “mega tour”, an annual endeavor (since 2004) that Mike hopes to continue and possibly take overseas. “I don't trust myself with overseas booking so if there are any booking agents reading this interview, call me.” Regional and national touring has gotten them into some pretty nice venues as well as reviews in various publications, including Pitchfork and Punk Planet. “Reviews? They're okay, I like it better when they are good.” He laughs, “I've read bad reviews and it doesn't affect me.”

Mike has now loosened up from a day at the office, booking and promoting the band, a job he is not too keen on. Although he enjoys calling the shots, “Being your own boss trumps all the other problems of being in a band full time.” Apichella is involved in the whole process of Human Host including expanding the diverse palette they work with. Human Host worked with N.O Smith on his short film Mall Crawlers. “In October 2007 I got back from tour and finished the soundtrack in a little over a week. It was the most natural thing for me. I only wish it was longer.”

“I really love the process of putting sound to images.”, there is a gleam in his eye as I ask him about his other film soundtrack, Evan Devine's film Electric Blood. A project he worked on with Human Conduct's Rick Weaver. “I make the music to go along with a very entertaining, live performance. Although people jumping around screaming the lyrics wasn't involved in the process of making the soundtrack for the film it was an easy transition from stage to film.” But did Human Host, as a band, grow from these new projects? Mike contemplates,”I'd say we have expanded. When you listen to the music in Mall Crawlers and in Electric Blood the soundtracks aren't very similar to what we have already done. It is a different side of us for sure.”

There is so much to be learned even from a year of being in a band but in six years you are headed to veteran status. Although many bands opt to exclusively play house shows and DIY spaces Mike isn't so stringent,“We play what we can get booked on. By weird turns of fate we sometimes get on bills at Clear Channel venues.” But what about the house shows? They seem to be the only place you expect a band like Human Host to play,“A house show is the only place where you can make an actual profit and that's why I like playing them. It is probably the least DIY thing to say.” Sometimes the “whimsy” of being close to the crowd and playing in a dirty basement is what sparks the love of playing in someone's home.

It is intriguing how much of a dialogue is spawning about the romanticized image of the house show . This discussion is something Apichella is very aware of, “There is a definite iconic image of a house show. The concept of punk culture has been around for a long time.” Many of us have heard stories or even witnessed several instances that would evolve into exaggerated tales. Punk culture has been around so long (since the time of revolution) that it has had time to progress and digress in a continuing cycle. Working and touring as Human Host Apichella knows first hand, “It's beyond whimsical, the idea almost becomes mythic.” To relate, Mike Apichella is known for being the cool guy in the scene. Not mythic just a memorable personality. With such charm there is no reason to use that personality to ask the city for a grant.

“Having to write down what you want to do and what your art really means was awesome. At first I thought, 'This is going to be corny. This is art, no one should crystallize it or distill it.' All that hippie nonsense that I was told and believed, and still believe.” This was a long process that took him a month or two to conceive and he landed it. The grant prize is for his upcoming Human Host feature length video art piece entitled Human Host. When it premieres hopefully new faces will be present to witness a band that has gradually become an unapologetic masterpiece, make sure to not be late.

Human Hosts' new full length album Creature Mountain is now available on Firecracker Firecracker Records.

(Photo by Scott Russell)
Posted by: Joy Frenzy

Features (December 14th, 2008)

Tags: interview