Hustle & flow

Andrew Whiteman of Apostle of Hustle explains why people who lie in their bathtubs are his audience

The man behind Apostle of Hustle, Andrew Whiteman, cites the conflict and darkness of the world as inspiration for his creation of music.
The man behind Apostle of Hustle, Andrew Whiteman, cites the conflict and darkness of the world as inspiration for his creation of music.

When he isn’t touring as the lead guitarist of Broken Social Scene, Andrew Whiteman devotes his creativity to his band Apostle of Hustle. After spending time with Apostle’s latest album Easy Speaks, it was no surprise that Andrew Whiteman was an intense intellectual. The artist eloquently opened up about his innovative music, tour stories and new gig as a duo band as he jetted around Montreal last Friday.

Whiteman described himself as an eternally frustrated academic and Apostle’s sound as shifty.

“Introverts and stoners are my audience and people who lie in their bathtub; people like me,” he said.

No kidding. Listening to tracks like “Soul Unwind”—Whiteman’s favourite track on the album—is what I’d imagine falling into a musical black hole would feel like. It’s impossible to know for sure what’s really going on inside you when you listen, but the aggressive cadence mixed with a charming melody kicks your senses into some kind of suspension. The album is certainly a journey. The safest thing to do is embrace the black abyss.

“[Eats Darkness is] about fighting and battle and conflict. When you’re in a situation like that, it’s about not turning the other cheek and not pretending that it’s not there. I’m a good Canadian, I’m very tolerant. I’d rather weather the storm,” Whiteman said.

Whiteman explained passionately that we should just accept certain realities.

“Eats Darkness relates to the fact that we live in a universe and a world where conflict is a huge part in it. It’s a natural fact. Within yourself you have to face it. Barack Obama is not going to solve all that stuff.”

In Apostle tradition, the album uses a collage of materials from TV shows, other musicians and different cultures around the world. These intricacies often slip under the radar.

On their recent tour with Gogol Bordello, the headlining band’s Ethiopian bassist Thomas Gobena noticed that “Haul Away” had an Ethiopian rhythm.

“I was so happy that he said that.” Whiteman said. “Someone finally caught me.” Whiteman enjoys being mischievous with these additions and making people work to decipher them. But where did the band pick up this eclectic style? Part of the influence comes from the time Whiteman spent in Havana in 2000. The trip is often cited in the press as the inspiration behind the bands conception, but Whiteman denies its significance. The Latin tones to their sound are just a part of Whiteman’s general worldly awareness. However, he did say Cuba taught him how to steal and recycle.

“Cubans because of the embargo are one of the most in depth re-cyclists.”

In response the question of whether this borrowing has ever landed the band in trouble, quite the opposite proved to be true.

American novelist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer William Burroughs’s voice is used in “Sign” and is very recognizable, so Whiteman tried to get the go-ahead from the Burroughs crew.

“I found the executor of his literary estate and tried to get approval for using Burroughs’s voice. I never got any response back so we went ahead with it. Then, I was in Kansas on my last tour and I went to go find his house. To cut a long story short I went back to his house after our show.”

I got the long of the short with a little prying.

“I got drunk with these dudes and told them I wrote to them a year ago and they never got back to me,” Whiteman added. Burroughs’s kin thought that was pretty cool so they asked Apostle to play for them—and play they did.

“I’m getting drunk and pissing in William Burroughs’s toilet. I sat in his chair. I saw his bedroom.”

Whiteman and drummer Dean Stone are currently working as a duo. The loss of bassist Julian Brown was somewhat unexpected for Whiteman, but he’s decided to embrace it as a creative adventure.

“It’s a huge challenge, but absolutely beneficial. When you’re a trio and then one person goes away you got to scramble to figure out what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.” They have given many of their songs a complete facelift so that they function well with two people.

“I’m blessed as fuck that I can make a living playing my music so I’m going to be happy with that.”

Apostle of Hustle play The Grad Club tomorrow with Leif Vollebekk. Tickets are $10 and are available at The Grad Club. Doors open at 9 p.m.

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