Sometimes an album comes along almost out of the blue and knocks your socks off in completely unexpected ways. The debut album by the curiously-named Apes, Pigs and Spacemen in 1995 was something that did just that to me. I can’t even remember exactly how I first heard of them, other than that it was probably in Kerrang! magazine, my musical bible at the time. Their debut album cover showed them in ‘character’ with lead singer Paul Miro as an ape, bassist Paul Bartram as a pig and… the other two as spacemen. That was as far as the characterisation went really, they weren’t a band with a particular gimmick, just an odd name.
The album was called Transfusion and it’s still one of my favourite rock albums of the 90s, mixing some heavy riffage with smarter lyrics that you would expect and a fair few classic film references too. From the sarcasm that drips from opener Great Place to anthemic rock tracks like Open Season, Fragments and Take Our Sorrows Swimming, it’s a fantastic collection of songs that doesn’t really sound like any other band that I can think of. The downside was that the press and record industry found it hard to pigeonhole and sell them, so Transfusion wasn’t exactly an enormous success.
Still, two years later they were able to record a follow-up, called Snapshot, but if their label were hoping for a more straightforward rock album, they were going to be disappointed, because it was even less so, with most of the heavy guitars gone and replaced by a diverse collection of influences and a camera theme that plays across the album (that I didn’t get as a teenager and, to be honest, still don’t). Miro’s knack for a tune was definitely intact though, and the likes of Unknown Territories (a kind of political sequel to Great Place), Blood Simple, Monster, Mother Courage and Nine Lives are catchy as hell.
Unfortunately, to the best of my recollection, Snapshot did even less business and certainly attracted even less attention than Transfusion, and AP&S quietly drifted away. Bartram popped up in short-lived-but-lots-of-fun Leafeater, who I saw support Terrorvision on two separate tours around 1998/99 (I wish I still had their mini-album), while Miro disappeared into the background of the music industry. 2003 saw a brief revival in the shape of new album Free Pawn, another impressive collection that was completely ignored by almost everyone. I still bought it though.
Since then, Miro has been focusing on a solo career with the help of the internet, selling his music through his own website, along with some AP&S EPs and rarities. He mostly plays acoustic gigs around the Derby area. There’s been talk of a fourth AP&S album, which would be nice to hear for those of us who still remember them fondly, but his solo work is just as eclectic and impressive, so if you’re one of those who do still enjoy taking your sorrows swimming, check out what he’s up to these days…