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When singer-songwriter Jonathan Koo formed the band Saints Apollo in 2011, he started small. Koo and violinist Autumn Brand were the group’s only members.
That quickly changed. “We figured out we really wanted to make this a full band,” he said.
So Koo turned to a source that’s more commonly used to find used furniture: the classified ad site Craigslist. An ad for a cellist and pianist brought Kaitlin Grady and Rachel Broadbent into the fold.
Want to go?
What: Raleigh folk pop band Saints Apollo performing with Carey Murdock and Inner City Mountain Men
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Slim’s Downtown, 227 S. Wilmington St.
Listen on the air: Saints Apollo will be featured at 6 p.m. Friday on WKNC 88.1 FM
Adding drummer Andrew Fetch took a little convincing for a band that wants to keep its sound mellow: “I was 80 percent sure I didn’t need percussion,” Koo said.
Since then, Saints Apollo has been steadily growing its fan base around the Triangle, drawing comparisons to The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, and The Head and the Heart as those bands made it big nationally. Saints Apollo played to a crowd of 500 at the Lincoln Theatre last month. They’ll headline Slim’s Downtown on Saturday.
“We like to think we have a unique sound locally,” said Grady, whose cello tends to stick out next to a drum set.
Koo writes most of the songs with subjects that lean toward love. “They’re snippets of points and places in relationships,” he said, adding that the lyrics typically don’t come first. “I will find a chord structure that really draws on an emotion and then find the words.”
Each band member then works up a part for their instrument. “It’s a lot of feeding off each other,” Fetch said.
Saints Apollo has crafted plenty of songs since its three-song EP came out more than a year ago. The group recently headed back to Raleigh’s K House recording studio to work on its first full-length album. The CD is due out in early summer and features two songs never before played in public.
“We’ve really come a long way since (the EP) and this is really going to be a reflection of that,” Grady said.
But don’t expect Saints Apollo to set off on a national tour anytime soon – all of them are happy to keep their day jobs. “We don’t have any goal to be super famous,” Koo said.