11 Questions: Aaron Apple

interview by Brent Cole

photo by Emily Nelson

I’ve realized now that doing an 11 questions with Aaron Apple should’ve occurred a few years ago – he’s been an integral part of the local music scene for a decade (I met him while he was volunteering at WhAAM!) and has been writing for the magazine for nearly half that time – first doing reviews, then locking into the Stuff Yer Face column. We should’ve talked to him while he was in the mix, not on his way out – our beloved Aaron Apple is moving out of Bellingham in early April for the grand city of New York (and, frankly, I can’t imagine this place without him). He’s one of the great spirits in this community, someone who makes it better just by being here – we’re all going to miss him dearly and wish him the best! Aaron’s one of the good ones.


Who are you and where did you come from? Please tell us about yourself. 

My name is Aaron Apple and I’ve lived in Bellingham since 2001. I moved here from the little town of Sedro-Woolley to attend Western and study Journalism. Unlike a lot of my friends I went to school with, I lucked out landing a job here in my field so I was able to stay in Bellingham all this time. I’ve been involved with the local music scene since about 2003, helping to book free shows around campus at Western and then starting my own bands. I’m passionate about food and have co-authored the “Stuff Yer Face” column here in What’s Up! for about five years. Our final restaurant review is in this issue!


What prompted your upcoming move to NY? (HOW DARE YOU LEAVE US!). Can you tell us about the new chapter in your life? 

I visited NYC last summer to see Björk play at Governor’s Ball, but the trip turned out to be a lot more for me. It was my third time visiting and on the last day of my trip, I remember lying on my back on a hill in Central Park when it hit me hard that I needed a serious change. I started crying while lying there, realizing the excitement and uncertainty that would lay ahead. Being a gay man in a town the size of Bellingham has proven frustrating to say the least, so there’s that whole aspect as well. I’ve been in Bellingham for 15 years and don’t regret any of it one bit.


What is one thing are you going to miss the most about Bellingham?

Fiamma Burger’s curry mayo. I’ll be looking for a suitable substitute in Queens the moment I step out of the airport. The local music community is a close second (ha)!


What are you most looking forward to leaving?

I can’t wait to live in a city with amazing public transportation and one that bands rarely skip on tour. Bellingham is extremely fortunate to get the bands that come through, but I still find myself having to go to Seattle or Vancouver to see bands that I can’t miss.


You’ve been writing the What’s Up! restaurant review for years. Through that time, what place has been your favorite?

I should first point out that it hasn’t been just me writing it! My co-writer and close friend Aaron Kayser joined the column in 2012 so it’s been a joint effort since then. I believe over that time I have reviewed my trio of favorite restaurants in town – Café Rumba, Goat Mountain Pizza and Fiamma Burger. I could eat from only those three restaurants the rest of my life and die a happy man.


What’s the first thing you plan on doing in NY as a new resident?

Pizza and pinball – or maybe some good Chinese Food and another trip to the Nintendo NY store. On my second night in the city I have tickets to see Wild Throne open for Kvelertak and Torche which will be a blast. It’ll be fun to see a Bellingham band I’ve seen so many times in my new home, plus Torche is one of my all-time favorites.


Of all the local bands you’ve seen in Bellingham, who was your favorite?

I can’t pick just one! A Symmetry was the first local band I was floored by, with Kristin Allen-Zito and others playing mathy, spazzy music that sounded like it came from another planet when I was that young. Racetrack was another band I fell in love with early on, as well as Lands Farther East, USS Horsewhip, Paxil Rose, Shook Ones, Typical Ace, etc. So Adult has been my favorite over the last five or so years and I’m honored they came out of hiatus to play my band’s album release show this February.


What about national bands coming through?

I was fortunate to attend WWU when AS Pop had some awesome booking agents so I was able to see bands like The Dismemberment Plan, The Promise Ring, Sleater-Kinney, Mates of State, Andrew WK and Pedro the Lion. My first show in Bellingham was Jets to Brazil in the Viking Union Building back when I was still in high school. Built to Spill, Shonen Knife, Man or Astro-Man?, Deerhoof, Jealous Sound, Good Luck, Harkonen, Kylesa, Lemuria, Wolves in the Throne Room… I could go on all day. Morrissey would have been cool if he hadn’t cancelled.


After a break, you started playing music again, now with Xavier’s School, who recently released a new album. Is your hope to play music with people in NY?

We hope to keep Xavier’s School alive for as long as possible! Because I work remotely and my entire family is in the NW, there’s no way I won’t be visiting less than a few times a year for as long as I need to be here – which means practice, new songs and shows when possible. We just released our full-length Stay Bold or Get Old (available digitally at http://xaviersschool.bandcamp.com or at Everyday and Avalon) and by the time you read this, our Kickstarter should be live so folks can pre-order the vinyl LP. We are doing split blue and gold records, just like the two X-Men teams.


What is your favorite style of food? 

This isn’t an easy question – it depends on my mood and what’s nearby. When I was in Italy last fall, I was convinced pasta was my favorite food of all time. But now that I’m back in the states, I don’t feel that way. I appreciate a thoughtful meal made with love and care, no matter the style. Just leave out the cilantro (barf)!


Any last thoughts or words for the fine folks of Bellingham?

Support Make.Shift and stay good to one another!