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Culture / Entertainment

From Midland, Texas, to California

Trio Rocks Austin With West Coast Vibe

BY Catherine Casey // 07.22.16

Here’s the scene: Love Goat, a college bar in Austin. It’s the perfect setting for the Austin debut of band AP Mode. Students, friends of the band, and the merely curious fill the cramped space as the trio prepares backstage with their pre-show ritual, joking around and possibly eating Subway sandwiches. 

AP Mode — straight out of West Texas — is giving us a little piece of California. Band member Lewis Grimes is our guide to the group, three Midland, Texas, natives: Grimes, lead vocalist and guitarist; Joey Vetter, drummer; and Peyton Harrington, bassist and backup vocalist. Grimes and Vetter began collaborating in the 8th grade, after forging a bond in a ceramics class. They knew from the first time they played together that there was magic to be made, they say. Harrington joined the duo two years later, soon after learning how to play the bass.

AP Mode performed their first gig as high school freshmen at a coffee house event. Since then, the band has performed many more gigs, including one, in Grimes’s words, “very legit” backyard bash that the police crashed.

AP Mode preparing to record new music.
AP Mode rehearses.

What intrigues listeners the most about this band is its California vibe. Being from a small town in West Texas, you would definitely expect a country sound from the group; however, they transport you right to the West Coast. 

Grimes grew up with music; his parents influenced his habits by surrounding him with vinyl albums, tapes, and CDs — mostly classic rock. As he grew, his taste shifted westward and he began listening to all things California. The combination of 1960s hippie and beachy surf sounds drew him in. Some of his inspirations include classic bands like The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and The Grateful Dead, plus contemporary artists like Wavves

Vetter’s taste for music also began with rock; his first influences came from “bombastic progressive-rock drummers,” he says. His taste, however, have since shifted in an electronic sound. Today, his main inspirations come from drum machines and samples, which you can hear on their newest single, “Wait & See.” The backbeat is simple, soft, and rhythmic.

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“Midland has totally shaped my music,” Grimes says, “because my influences came from wanting a different geography, and also learning to love my home.” He’s never lived in California, but has a great longing and admiration for it.

Vetter weighs in on the Midland angle: “I could probably write a whole paper on the effects of living in a small, isolated town, but more than anything, I think it probably stokes your curiosity and desire for new and different things,” he says. “It’s crazy to think how that if I wasn’t living in the internet age right now, most of my interests would likely be very different just because I wouldn’t have been exposed to them as a result of where I grew up.”

While Grimes does not fit the typical “Texas Cowboy” stereotype, he acknowledges the state’s influence on his general development. He recalls listening to country CDs while riding in his older brother’s truck — especially Ryan Bingham, his favorite country artist (mostly because of Bingham’s California indie sound). Grimes’s creative influences today, however, come from all genres of music: hip-hop, metal, electronic, pop, and punk. He dreams of one day collaborating with artist Ty Segall and wants to expand his knowledge of surf music.

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Artwork from AP Mode’s latest single, “Wait & See”

Grimes is pursuing a degree in studio art at the University of Texas at Austin, and enjoys painting in addition to creating music. AP Mode has played gigs at many local bars around town and is looking forward to the coming semester. “I honestly think we are just going to make music, and I have no idea whether it will be successful or no; it’s just damn fun,” says Grimes. “I would like to see us take off and be able to record better music — we’re learning as we go.” 

The band currently records at Grimes’s house in Midland and is on Warganized Records. You can find their music on iTunes and Spotify and on their website

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