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Progressive Rock Interviews

Ape Shifter

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Jeff Aug of Ape Shifter from 2017
Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?
I've been involved with music since I bought the Monkees Re-Focus (Greatest Hits) record at a flea market when I was six years old.  Then, there were rock bands through my teen years playing Black Sabbath, Quiet Riot, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple covers along with lots of Grateful Dead played on the acoustic around the campfire and at hippie events.  Then out of college in the 90s, I started Sorry About Your Daughter with some friends, played the East Coast USA and Germany, released a couple of albums, parallel to which I was playing solo acoustic instrumental fingerstyle guitar in coffeehouses and bookstores.  When the band broke up in 1996, I went full-time solo acoustic.  I moved to Germany in 1998 when an old tour manager and good friend Toon invited me over to play some acoustic shows.  After a couple of years, I met up with Kurty and Flori and started a punk band called "Banana Peel Buzz."  We rocked every youthhouse in the Bundesrepublik.  In 2002, I started playing guitar for the British Wave/EBM icon Anne Clark.  In 2003, I started my own booking and management company.  Since then, I have put together tours for Atari Teenage Riot, Suicidal Tendencies, Anne Clark, Stu Hamm, Allan Holdsworth, Soft Machine, Chumbawamba, Alex Skolnick, The Ex, Lydia Lunch, and tons of others.

In 2006, Anne Clark told me to she wanted to start bringing the electric guitar back into her music.  It had been a good number of years since I picked up an electric guitar.  It felt so good.  In 2010, I laid down the tracks for the big Atari Teenage Riot comeback album and had a load of material left over.  In November 2015, I got Kurty and Flori back into the practice room and told them we were going to be recording an album the following Summer.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

I'd probably be working for UPS.

MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?

There is a name guru in Munich, Germany.  If you know him and his talent, he will appease.  Ape Shifter was at the top of his list.


Who would you see as your musical influences?

Steve Morse, Dixie Dregs, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allan Holdsworth, Danzig (first album), Fugazi, Rollins Band, Danko Jones, Grateful Dead, Motorhead, and many others…

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Album release, shows, another album, more shows… Lots of guitar playing… that's the key here.  I also love an excuse to put new strings on my guitar, so whatever it takes.  Usually a show or two and I can justify new strings on the guitar.  New strings are awesome.
MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Intense Simian Instrumental Rock from the nasty pits of the Hellabrunn Zoo.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Yes, and they include drummers Virgil Donati, Tommy Lee, and Jacopo Frapporti, as well as bassists Jimmy Haslip, Stu Hamm, and Katja Stoffels.
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
For young bands, it's the only way to get the music out there.  Radio is obsolete.  Going to “Discos” (rock discos are a German phenomena) to discover new music is also obsolete.  Young people discover culture through their telephones and the internet in this day and age.  So, I think it's a necessary evil.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Sure, awesome, but take it down without question if the artist asks.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
You mean who is my musical enemy?  Kenny G.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
I´d like to see Planet X play live…  or a sober Allan Holdsworth with just about anyone.  Steve Morse Band (as a trio).  Grateful Dead in ´72 or ´74.  
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Steve Morse Band, Van Halen (with David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony back in ´78), Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, COC (with Pepper), The Who (with Keith Moon), plus a Black Sabbath show which featured all past singers… There would be a lot more bands, but I'll have to get back to this another time.

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

The last CD I bought was Manhattan Transfer's Greatest Hits for my daughter.  The CD I bought for myself was Grateful Dead Live.  The last music I bought was The Cars The Cars on vinyl.  I have been listening to a lot of vinyl:  Blue Oyster Cult live, Cheap Trick Live At Budokan, and I just heard Alec Empire's “Volt” soundtrack (double vinyl—totally awesome!), as well as The Skull For Those Who Are Asleep (also totally awesome!).
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Yes.  Bill Bryson's Shakespeare was good, but Kill Anything That Moves really made a deep impression.

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

I saw Suicidal Tendencies at Rockavaria last year.  That rocked.
MSJ: Do you remember your first concert?
Van Halen for their 1984 Tour at the Capitol Center in Largo, Maryland.  Autograph opened up.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
I really like the D-Tuna on my EVH.  That's a great invention.  Needs calibration every now and then, but when it works, it's a dream.

Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Nope.  I don't feel guilty about anything I listen to whether it's Marvin Gaye, NWA, Crosby, Stills & Nash, or Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I was on tour with my acoustic instrumental duo Floating Stone.  We showed up the gig which was a squatted bahnhof (train station) in Jena, Germany.  The punters were “bowling” for the ticket price (I guess they got a rebate for every pin they knocked down).  The promoter walks us through the building.  We enter the men's toilet.  They had taken every out (all the stalls and urinals) and built a wall-to-wall wooden skateboard half-pipe.  There were dudes skating.  The promoter points to the half-pipe and says, “this is your stage.”  They had sub woofers under the half-pipe.  For our show, everyone laid down on the half-pipe to listen to our set.  It was amazing.

My punk band Banana Peel Buzz had a booking agent way back when.  He booked us in Flensburg, Germany.  We were based on the Austrian border to Germany.  Flensburg is on the Danish border. Our booking agent said he could set up a second show in Husum, Germany, which was only about an hour from Flensburg, but that they would only pay for the gas.  So we took the show.  Needless to say, the Flensburg show got cancelled.   Our agent asked if we wanted to cancel Husum.  We said, “No, we´ll keep it.”  We drove something like 10 hours to get there.  We gave our gas receipt to the promoter expecting to be paid twice as much (i.e. for the gas there and the return trip).  He gave us 24 Euro and said, sorry, but the deal was just for the gas… from Flensburg.


If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Jerry Garcia, Salvador Dali, and either Groucho or Harpo Marx.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Pheasant, blaukraut, sautéed vegetables, shrimp, salad, humus, cheeses, tomatoes, … for starters

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Yes, everyone needs Ape Shifter, so get the album before it's too late.



MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 2 at
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