Chris Shanafelt and Megan Mehl
photo by James Pederson Photography
Founded in the winter of 2013 the rock music duo The Apollo Affair is not your typical acoustic music experience. Comprised of guitarist Chris Shanafelt and vocalist and frontwoman Megan Mehl, the duo have been establishing themselves throughout the Midwest with their intense music and energetic performances. The Apollo Affair possesses an undeniable drive that borderlines upon obsession. I recently sat down with Chris and Megan to discuss their musical journey.
Maximum Ink: I read on your Facebook profile that you met at school. Tell me about the name of your duo and how you ended up playing together.
Chris Shanafelt: Ultimately our band name comes from the Greek god Apollo, the god of music.
Megan Mehl: I was stuck on a Greek God fix. We didn’t even intentionally start doing this together. Originally it started as a joke to cheer up one of our friends. We did a cover song for her. It turned out so well that we decided to start doing music together. Chris was in the kitchen one night making dinner and he said, “We need a band name!” This is what I came up with and no one else had it so it stuck.
MI: What made you decide to pursue this seriously as a profession?
MM: This is something we’ve always wanted to do, be full time musicians and performers, literally be rock stars. We started writing some songs together to see how it would go. We ended up liking what we wrote so we thought why not try to do more of that? It’s grown exponentially since.
CS: Even my day job involves music, I teach elementary school music. It’s to the point where all of the bills are paid with music on some level, whether it’s teaching or performing. I get fulfillment out of it in any endeavor. Performing is huge because it gets very personal.
MI: Tell me about the cross country tour you are doing this summer.
CS: We are releasing a CD the day after school gets out, our release show is at The Frequency June 11th. Then we’re gone until about four days before I have to start back at school again. I know I’ll be looking at curriculum and writing lesson plans while we’re on the road, but I don’t believe I should be teaching something I’m not doing myself. Hopefully it will encourage my students whether it’s to follow a dream in music or something else. I want them to believe this is something they can also do.
MI: Who will be performing with you when you’re on tour?
CS: We’ll be playing with a lot of different musicians that we’ve met along the way, even on social media. For the release show we’ll be playing with Gods In The Chrysalis based out of Madison and they’re phenomenal.
MM: Some of the shows we’ll do by ourselves, some of them we’ll split with people that are local from the area, which is better for us because it gets people out that don’t have any idea who we were.
MI: How much work was it to set up the venues for the tour?
MM: A lot more than Chris is going to give himself credit for. He did the whole tour, we didn’t have an agency setting it up for us. It was at least six months of Chris reaching out to different venues, bands, doing research, so many emails.
CS: It was fun though, like putting a puzzle together. I had an outline of what the tour would look like in November of last year. Initially it was going to be Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Then I get a random message from a place in Arizona called Dark Sky Brewing. In order to make our way to Arizona we set up shows in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, and decided we had to do at least one show in California. Coming back we have shows in Colorado, the Twin Cities, St.Louis, Indiana and over to Michigan.
MI: Besides the tour what long term goals do you have?
CS: I would say the long term goal is to be doing music full time. I enjoy teaching, I’m passionate about it, but I’d like to have an opportunity to make music full time at some point. I know that could happen at any moment. It doesn’t have to be glamorous, I don’t need a tour bus or to live in some amazing home. To be able for Megan and me to just do music is a goal for me. One big thing we are looking to do post tour is to expand our band. We’ve developed our sound as much as we can as two people, but we are looking at coming up with a full band lineup, at minimum a drummer and possibly a bass player.
MM: As far as tangible goals I’m a list maker. I feel better when we have a checklist. What we do at the beginning of every year is come up with ten things that we want to accomplish throughout the year. Things like release a new CD, which we’re doing, or even updating the web site or improve equipment.
MI: Tell me a little about the new EP.
MM: The EP that we’re releasing next month is called “Start The Fire.” It will be our second EP with seven songs on it. The title came after we had put all of the songs together for it. The songs were written over the course of the past year after we were married. I write the lyrics so ultimately I get to choose what the songs are about. I was going through a lot of internal reflection and discovery. Sprinkle in a little identity crisis, depression and anxiety, there were a lot of changes to deal with. While I was dealing with all of that I came to this idea that I’m not going to be ashamed or afraid of what I might find out about myself, even if it means finding out that you are dealing with mental illness, I’m not going to fight it or deny it. The idea is that you’re going to take those parts of you that you’re not happy or satisfied with at the moment and you’re going to put those things into the proverbial fire and let it fuel you. You’re going to keep going and keep growing. That’s the overall story behind the music. I would say by the end of the CD you will feel that sense of empowerment.
MI: Why should someone become a fan of The Apollo Affair and what, if anything, do you want most for them to know about you?
MM: I think that being honest is something that is really hard for all of us to do. It takes bravery to embrace everything that a person is. We all struggle with ourselves. We’re never perfectly happy and satisfied, there’s always something that could be better. One of the things that makes us and our music different is that it comes from that place of hard to reach honesty, the kind where it makes you a better person to get it out and it encourages other people to show that same kind of bravery and honesty. With the music that I write I want other people to know that you can embrace everything you are for whatever it means and use it to your advantage. In the end we all want to feel like we belong, that we have purpose, we’re appreciated and we’re not alone. It shines through in our music and who we are. We’re always going to be real with people.
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