Featuring four notable figures from the louder and heavier end of indie rock, Sweet Apple's music is swaggering and raucous on the surface, but the band first came together as one of the members was dealing with a severe personal crisis.
Vocalist and guitarist John Petkovic is the longtime frontman with Cleveland-based rockers Cobra Verde (he was also a member of Guided by Voices for a spell, appearing on the album Mag Earwhig!), and in late 2008, he was having a tough time dealing with the death of his mother after a long illness. Needing to get away from Ohio for a while, Petkovic hopped in his car and began driving East as he chain-smoked cigarettes. While on the road, he got a call from his friend Dave Sweetapple, who plays bass with the stoner rock band Witch. Petkovic had driven 400 miles by this point, and he was close enough to Sweetapple's home in Vermont to take him up on an offer to stop by and talk. When he showed up at Sweetapple's house, Sweetapple invited over a mutual friend, J Mascis; best known as the leader of Dinosaur Jr., he's also played drums with Witch, and he hired Petkovic to play bass in his project J Mascis & the Fog.
As the three friends talked, Mascis suggested the best thing Petkovic could do to deal with his grief was to make music, and suggested he start writing songs for a new band. Mascis and Sweetapple immediately volunteered to play in Petkovic's new project, and Tim Parnin, one of Petkovic's bandmates from Cobra Verde, soon stepped in to make the combo a quartet. Calling themselves Sweet Apple, Petkovic wrote a batch of 25 songs for the band in less than a month, and in rehearsals, they pared the set down to 12 songs and went into the recording studio. The completed album, Love & Desperation, was released by indie hard rock label Tee Pee Records in April 2010. In November 2012, in honor of the upcoming presidential election, Sweet Apple regrouped to release a cover of Alice Cooper's "Elected" on a 7" vinyl single. In February 2013, another single followed, featuring a new song called "Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)," featuring guest vocals from Mark Lanegan. As it turns out, the song was a preview of the next Sweet Apple album, though the disc wouldn't be released until April 2014; The Golden Age of Glitter showed off a stronger power pop influence than the debut album, and featured more guest vocals from Lanegan, as well as Guided by Voices leader Robert Pollard and Rachel Haden of that dog. Lanegan, Pollard, and Haden returned to contribute guest vocals on Sweet Apple's third album, 2017's Sing the Night in Sorrow, which also featured guitar work from yet another onetime member of Guided by Voices, Doug Gillard. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi