Midtown Raleigh News

Raleigh’s Apples & Airplanes are a band of equals

Jade Werth sings and Nate Brisson drums as Apples & Airplanes performed recently at The Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh.
Jade Werth sings and Nate Brisson drums as Apples & Airplanes performed recently at The Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh.

It’s a common question during sound checks at nearly every rock music venue: Who’s your lead singer?

Raleigh-based band Apples & Airplanes doesn’t have an easy answer. The alternative modern rock group has a different front man and songwriter for each tune in its repertoire.

“It’s a sort of a Beatles style where we all bring a song to the table,” said Jade Werth, who sings and plays guitar, keyboard or harmonica – depending on the song.

Each of the five band members also brings a vastly different musical background and style. Werth is a self-taught musician who was in jam bands before starting Apples & Airplanes. Drummer Nate Brisson comes from the heavy metal scene. Guitarist and bass player Matt Voos favors vintage classic rock. Jack Johnson offers up saxophone solos. And Daniel Grooms is a classically trained trumpet player who also raps.

“We do a five-part harmony,” Werth said. “Everyone in the band can sing.”

The end result is a dynamic high-energy performance that draws comparisons to the Dave Matthews Band, Dispatch and O.A.R. “It’s like we took what we like from all the other genres,” Grooms said.

Apples & Airplanes first formed about three years ago when Werth and Johnson met at an open mic night. Several of the other members were classmates at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School.

Why the name? The music, Werth said, “is as simple as apples but as complicated as airplanes.”

Since 2010, the band has been gaining steam on the Raleigh rock scene, playing at countless downtown venues. They’ve performed at N.C. State football tailgates and opened for nationally known groups like Sublime, 311 and Rusted Root.

Looking ahead, Apples & Airplanes wants to make a name for itself on a regional and national stage. They’ve booked shows throughout North Carolina and north toward Werth’s hometown of Pittsburgh. “We’re really focusing on our five-year plan to get out of Raleigh,” Werth said.

The band is also working on a new EP, “Watch Out for Birds,” that’s due out in the fall. With most fans buying music online, Werth says there’s not much point in shelling out to record the traditional full-length CD.

“We’re recording four tracks at a time,” he said.