Can you please explain.
Back in 2002, I was living in a house with everyone else in my band. We'd be broken up in about six months due to members moving out of town, but at that point it felt sort of like living the rock n' roll dream. There was one night when all of us were sitting around the living room, not doing too much, and Eric, our lead guitarist, had his guitar out and plugged into a practice amp. He'd been working on riffs earlier, but now he was entertaining himself by playing along with songs that came on MTV2 (back when that network still played videos). The Strokes' first big single, "Last Night", was getting a lot of airplay at that point, and he'd started playing along with the TV when it came on, discovering to the vast amusement of everyone in the room that the rhythm guitar part on the verses was one chord. After that, he tried playing along with each new song that came on, and was generally successful by about 30 seconds into the song, though he had to tune down to drop D to play along with P.O.D.'s "Youth Of The Nation". All this mimicry came to an abrupt end, though, when the video for "Shhh (Hope Diggy)" by the Apex Theory came on. All of us in the room yelled, "Whoa!" as soon as it started, because for a minute, we couldn't even tell what time signature it was in. It had a strange, mathematically complex chord progression, and underneath that progression, the rhythm section played complicated fills. It reminded me of Frank Zappa or some similar prog-rock merchant, and it did so in the same way that System Of A Down, who had just recently had a hit with "Chop Suey", did. But the problem that "Shhh (Hope Diggy)" had in connecting with me and my bandmates was the vocals. On the choruses, they had that sort of rap-core bounce that Fred Durst made his signature, and on the verses, they were fast, scatting rap of the sort that Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda was known for. Limp Bizkit? Linkin Park? Gross. Regardless of their mathy tendencies, we concluded, this Apex Theory band sucked.
That said, I found myself thinking about the song a lot in the ensuing days and weeks. Yes, the chorus was obnoxious. Yes, the verses were rappy. But the strange time signatures and proggy flourishes drew my mind back to it over and over, and I couldn't help but wonder if the Apex Theory didn't have something more to offer. I learned that this was the case months later, after moving out of the band house, while again watching MTV2. This time I saw the video for "Apossibly", on which there weren't any rappy vocals anywhere. The music was more straightforward, too, but I liked it a lot. A catchy guitar riff and a melodically sung chorus made the song irresistible for me, and I set to work downloading their album. What I learned from hearing "Topsy Turvy" in its entirety was this: if there's anything that's to blame for Apex Theory not being as famous as System of a Down right now, it's the A&R decision to make "Shhh (Hope Diggy)" the first single. It doesn't sound a thing like the rest of the album, and it contains some very divisive elements--specifically, rappy vocals. I know the A&R guy in question was probably just trying to catch the demographic that bought Linkin Park albums, but Apex Theory's sound as a whole makes clear to me that this is the wrong target market to aim for. Their usual sound is more like a bizarre Armenian version of emo-influenced alternative rock--At The Drive In by way of System Of A Down. They should have aimed this album at kids who liked the Mars Volta (although, unfortunately, The Mars Volta weren't around at the time to provide a guide for such marketing).
"Apossibly" makes this somewhat clear, but where it really becomes obvious is on "Bravo", which should have been the single. This song switches from quieter verses to driving, uptempo choruses, all powered by a catchy vocal melody. The driving bridge, on which the singer yells "It's about time!", is the best part, and manages to incorporate Apex Theory's more mathematically inclined tendencies into a riff that is still carried by a 4/4 beat--the riff spirals around the beat, getting ahead, then falling behind, always to come back to the beginning at the same spot that the beat does. "Mucus Shifters" plays with tempo much more overtly, and is constructed around a riff that speeds up and slows down as it's played, the rhythm section following and creating a bizarre time signature that I still can't quite figure out. "That's All!" is a quieter, more subdued track, on which keyboards provide the basic chords, and the guitar trickles arpeggios all over the melodic beds the keyboards lay down. "In Books" is straightforwardly heavy and provides a fitting end to the album, while "Add Mission" starts the whole thing off with spacey yet powerful riffing and verses that start out sounding 4/4 but soon reveal themselves to be in a much more bizarre time signature. "Bullshed" begins with a progged-out instrumental intro, but turns into a groove-oriented alt-rock jam after 90 seconds or thereabouts.
Really, there isn't a dud here, not even "Shhh (Hope Diggy)"--and I say that despite the fact that the title of that song makes me want to punch someone in the face. After a while, I even learned to love the scatting raps on that song's verses, which opened me up even more to the strangely fascinating riffing going on underneath them. Really, though, I just love everything by the Apex Theory, including the songs on their self-titled EP, like "Swing This", that weren't rerecorded for the full-length. I even located a promotional CD called "Random Bursts", which features an otherwise unreleased song called "Calm-It", and it was worth the price of admission all by itself (granted, the copy of "Random Bursts" I found cost me a dollar, but still). Even to this day, after owning their CDs for over 5 years, I'm still occasionally overcome by an urge to hear Apex Theory, and at times like that, nothing else will do. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who still cares about this band, and I'm fine with that if so, but seriously--you guys are missing out. This band rules.
Apex Theory - Bravo
Apex Theory - Add Mission