Apollo 440 (alternately known as Apollo Four Forty or @440) are an English band formed in Liverpool in 1990. Apollo 440 have written, recorded and produced five albums, collaborated with and produced other artists, remixed as Apollo 440 and as ambient cinematic alter-ego Stealth Sonic Orchestra, and created music for film, television, advertisements and multimedia. During their eleven years at Sony, 1993–2004, they notched up 11 Top 40 UK singles with three Top 10s, and had a chart presence worldwide.
The name comes from the Greek god Apollo and the frequency of concert pitch — the A note at 440 Hz, often denoted as "A440", and the Sequential Circuits sampler/sequencer, the Studio 440. They changed the writing of their name from Apollo 440 to Apollo Four Forty in 1996, though they switched back for their latest album.
To date Apollo's remixes number around 60 - from U2 in the early 1990s to Puff Daddy/Jimmy Page and Ennio Morricone a decade later. Apollo's version of Puretone's "Addicted To Bass" was made a lead track and became a hit in 2002. Among their Stealth Sonic Orchestra remixes are a series of Manic Street Preachers singles.
Apollo 440 were formed by the brothers Trevor and Howard Gray with fellow Liverpudlians Noko and James Gardner, although Gardner left after the recording of the first album. All members sing and add a profusion of samples, electronics, and computer-based sounds.
After relocating to the Camden area of London, Apollo 440 recorded their debut album, Millennium Fever, and released it in 1994 on their own Stealth Sonic Recordings label (distributed by Epic Records). They have successfully invaded both the record charts and the dance floor with their combination of rock, techno, and ambient.
The band had been most known for its remixes until the release of Liquid Cool in the UK. However, it was not until the success of the singles "Krupa" and "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Dub" that their own musical efforts were brought to international attention — particularly the latter single contributed greatly to pushing Apollo 440 into the spotlight.
In 2007, the band played a tribute gig to the late singer Billy Mackenzie.
Apollo 440's fifth album, The Future's What It Used To Be, became available for download on the iTunes Store from the 23rd March 2012.
Collaborators over the years have included Jeff Beck, Jean Michel Jarre, Billy Mackenzie, Ian McCulloch and Hotei.
Currently, the band resides in Islington, London, having once again moved its headquarters (affectionately labelled 'Apollo Control').
Apollo 440 have always played live with a number of different line-ups - in the early days featuring guest vocals by MC Stevie Hyper-D. In 1994 the basic trio of founding members Noko, Howard and Trevor were for the first time joined by Cliff on electronic and acoustic drums. Between 1997 and 2000 they toured extensively round the world as an eight piece live band, joined by Mary Byker (vocals), Harry K (DJ and vocals), Paul Kodish (drums) and Rej (bass). The 2008 live line-up features founding members Noko (guitar), Howard Gray (FOH vibe controller) and Trevor Gray (keyboards), plus frontman, long-time collaborator Ewan MacFarlane, who sings on the new album. Original Apollo 440 drummer Cliff Hewitt is again behind the drum kit, with Michael Cusick on bass guitar. Ashley Krajewski features on keyboards/MPC samples, having been the studio engineer at Apollo Control since 2003.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Electro Glide in Blue||
|Gettin' High on Your Own Supply||
|Dude Descending a Staircase||
|The Future's What It Used to Be||
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
- "Lolita" (1991)
- "Destiny" (1991)
- "Blackout" (1992)
- "Rumble EP" (1993)
- "Astral America" (1994) No. 36 UK
- "Liquid Cool" (1994) No. 35 UK
- "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (1995) No. 35 UK
- "Krupa" (1996) No. 23 UK
- "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Dub" (1997) No. 7 UK
- "Raw Power" (1997) No. 32 UK
- "Carrera Rapida" (1997)
- "Rendez-Vous 98" (with Jean Michel Jarre; 1998) No. 12 UK
- "Lost in Space" (1998) No. 4 UK
- "Stop the Rock" (1999) No. 10 UK
- "Heart Go Boom" (1999) No. 57 UK
- "Cold Rock The Mic / Crazee Horse" (2000) (promo only)
- "Charlie's Angels 2000" (2000) No. 29 UK
- "Say What?" (with 28 Days; 2001) No. 23 Australia
- "Dude Descending A Staircase" (feat. The Beatnuts; 2003) No. 58 UK
- "A Deeper Dub EP" (2011)
Over 50 different Apollo tracks have featured in movies, trailers, TV, games and ads worldwide, the latter including globally branded cars, beers, soft drinks, phones, audio and software. They have also written two entire soundtracks for the Sony PlayStation and provided the themes for ITV World Cup '98 and Formula 1 2000 coverage as well as Liverpool F.C.'s Official 2006 FA Cup song.
Spawn (1997) the soundtrack : "This Is Not a Dream" (UK Mix), with Mark Sandman of Morphine on vocals
- Spawn (film)#Soundtrack Bonus Track (#15)
- Rapid Racer (1997), format: PlayStation CD (Audio CD plus game data track). The soundtrack was also available as an extra CD, as part of the limited edition double CD single release of "Carrera Rapida"
- Club Hits 97/98 (1997), (soundtrack to music used during Sky Sport's coverage of Premiership football), featured "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Dub"
- Lost in Space (film) (1998), featured "Lost in Space"
- FIFA 2000 (1999), featured "Stop The Rock"
- Gran Turismo 2 (1999), featured "Cold Rock The Mic"
- Charlie's Angels (2000), featured a remix of the Charlies Angels theme song.
- Boys and Girls (2000), featured "Stop the Rock" in a club scene
- Cut (2000), featured "Stop the Rock"
- Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), featured "Stop the Rock"
- Spider-Man (2000), featured a remix of "Spider-Man theme song"
- Driven (2001), features "Stadium Parking Lot" in a montage of several songs during a chase scene
- Gran Turismo 3 features "Stop the Rock (Mint Royale Mix)"
- Spider-Man (2002) featured "Altamont Super-Highway Revisited" in one of the trailers.
- S.W.A.T. (2003), featured "Time is Running Out"
- SX Superstar (2003), featured "Cold Rock The Mic"
- Eurotrip (2004) featured "Make My Dreams Come True"
- EyeToy: AntiGrav (2004), format: PlayStation 2 DVD
- EyeToy: Groove (2004), PlayStation 2 DVD features instrumental version of the song "Hustler Groove"
- Chasing Liberty (2004) featured "Stop The Rock"
- Gran Turismo 4 (2005), a PlayStation 2 video game, featured two exclusive tracks. They were "Hold The Brakes" and "Start The Car"
- Disaster Movie (2008), featured "Stop the Rock" in the teaser trailer.
- The Sopranos, in "Whoever Did This" (2002) "The Man with the Harmonica" played over the end credits
- Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2007, featured "Stop the Rock" in the segment "Sureally Sexy"
Apollo Four Forty have a history of working together with various vocalists. Whilst their debut album, Millennium Fever, was sung almost exclusively by Noko, he has since withdrawn from his vocalist status in the band to make way for various guest appearances, including, but not limited to:
- Billy Mackenzie on "Pain In Any Language" on Electro Glide in Blue, the last song he recorded.
- Ewan MacFarlane on "Electro Glide in Blue" on Electro Glide In Blue and numerous tracks on the Dude Descending a Staircase album
- Xan on "Something's Got to Give" on Dude Descending a Staircase
- Jalal Nuriddin on "Children of the Future" on Dude Descending a Staircase
- The Beatnuts on the title track of Dude Descending a Staircase
- Elizabeth Gray on "Christiane" on Dude Descending a Staircase and "Stealth Mass" on Electro Glide in Blue
- Mary Byker (Ian Hoxley) on "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Dub", "Raw Power" on Electro Glide in Blue and "Stop The Rock" on Gettin' High On Your Own Supply
The album, Millennium Fever, is a tribute to the French postmodernist Jean Baudrillard. Since the release of that album, other references to Jean Baudrillard's works have popped up.
- The track, "Astral America", references Baudrillard's America essay, where the term originates.
- The track, "The Perfect Crime", references Baudrillard's book of the same name.
- The lyrics of "Stealth Requiem" reference the Baudrillardian concept of hyperreality. At one point a female voice says, "Ravishing hyperrealism ... Mind blowing", and later quotes directly from America (1988): "The exhilaration of obscenity; the obscenity of obviousness; the obviousness of power; the power of simulation."
The title and cover art of the album Dude Descending a Staircase are parodies of Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 by Marcel Duchamp.
The song "Liquid Cool" (released as a B-side in 1993, as a single in 1994, and featured on the Millennium Fever album) is a tribute to Alcor, a company focused to pursue research into and the organization of cryonization. The topic is also referenced in the title-song "Millennium Fever", which includes the line, '"I've been dreaming of freezing my mind in California'" where Alcor was based until 1994. Contact details for Alcor subsequently appeared on the sleeve of the single "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", a cover of the Blue Öyster Cult song.
The song "Omega Point" references the concept of the same name, and features a quote from Barrow and Tipler's "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle": "At the instant the Omega Point is reached, life will have gained control of all matter and forces not only in a single universe, but in all universes whose existence is logically possible; life will have spread into all spatial regions in all universes which could logically exist, and will have stored an infinite amount of information, including all bits of knowledge which it is logically possible to know."
Their 1996 song is a homage to the Polish-American drummer Gene Krupa and his improvised style of drumming.
On the album Electro Glide in Blue, track 6 called "Tears of the Gods" (6:18) features audio quotes from the 1970s video performance "Bukowski at Bellevue". The quotes are all taken from a piece entitled "Soup, Cosmos, and Tears." (A transcription of the video can be found at the blog.)