The recipe for Hot Apple Pie includes a Virginia-bred flat-picking guitar champion/bass player, a Cajun drummer/accordionist, a Texan guitarist with a degree in jazz, a proven hit singer-songwriter and a dash of that indefinable something called musical charisma.
"Hot Apple Pie is the perfect name for a band, isn't it?" comments Trey Landry. "This is 100% natural, no artificial ingredients," says Sparky Matejka with a laugh. "From the very first day we played together, we knew this was a great mix," recalls Brady Seals. "And, yes, that's really us playing on the record," adds Keith Horne.
What a concept. In an era when teen-heartthrob pop vocal quartets are called "boy bands" and when country "groups" hire session musicians to play on their records, the sound of Hot Apple Pie is indeed refreshing. You can hear it in every groove of its DreamWorks Records debut - this is an honest-to-goodness band.
These four musicians have an astonishingly full and diverse sound. Tracks like "Easy Does It" and "Everybody Wants to Dance with My Baby" have sensuous, R&B flavored grooves. "The Good Life" is a stuttering-guitar rocker. Hot Apple Pie takes The Band's oldie "The Shape I'm In" for a bluegrass ride. "Slowin' Down the Fall" is a hardcore country barroom weeper with a guest appearance by the legendary Willie Nelson.
"Redneck Revolution" is a bluesy, swampy Southern rocker. Yet "Why Can't I Get to You" is a hushed ballad of desire. The group's triple harmonies leap out of the speakers on tracks like the upbeat "We're Makin' Up." The ballad "California King" is a marked contrast to the wild ride of the rocking "Should've Seen Her Leavin' Comin.'" "Annabelle" and "All Together Now" seethe with backwoods Southern atmosphere. But "Hillbillies" has a distinctly urban, hip-hop vibe.
"I wanted my next musical project to have integrity," says Brady Seals. "I wanted something that's fresh and new, a little edgy and yet mainstream. Hot Apple Pie is that something."
The band's story begins with Brady. A member of a highly musical clan that also includes country stars Dan Seals ("Bop"), pop star Jimmy Seals of Seals & Crofts ("Summer Breeze") and celebrated country songwriters Troy Seals ("Seven Spanish Angels ") and Chuck Seals ("Crazy Arms"), Brady was on the road as a country musician by age 16. He sent his early songwriting efforts to Uncle Troy in Nashville to have them critiqued. Then he moved to Music City.
During his 1991-95 tenure in Little Texas, Brady Seals blossomed as a writer. He co-wrote the band¹s hits "My Love" and "What Might Have Been," as well as the Grammy Award nominated "Amy's Back in Austin" and "God Blessed Texas." But country stardom carried a heavy price.
After leaving Little Texas to pursue a solo career, Seals released CDs in 1997 and 1999. He had six charting singles as a solo artist. However, Seals says "in every interview people would ask me about Little Texas. I really had a hard time trying to move on and have people embrace my new music."
In 2002, Brady Seals had a brainstorm. "I had the name and the whole vision from the beginning. I started to call the band The Apples. Then it turned into Apple Pie. Then, thanks to my wife, it turned into Hot Apple Pie. The guys all liked it. We chose the name because it means so many different things. It means home. It means comfort. It means country. It means rock 'n' roll. And it's so American."
Sparky Matejka moved to Music City in 1995. Since then, he has played for Charlie Daniels, The Kinleys, Sons of the Desert, as well as Brady Seals.
"Actually, Brady was my first job when I moved to town," reports Trey Landry. "It¹s kind of an interesting story. The last gig I did living in Louisiana was with Wayne Toups, a Southern Louisiana accordion great. We went on Delbert McClinton's Blues Cruise in the Caribbean, and I was literally moving to Nashville two weeks later. Rodney Crowell and his wife Claudia Church were vacationing on that cruise. He saw me play with Wayne. He came up and introduced himself. We exchanged numbers, and he told me to call him when I got to town. But Rodney wasn't up and running yet, so when I called him, he introduced me to Brady."
With three of the four members on board, Brady Seals got busy. His wife, Lisa Stewart, introduced him to her former record producer, Richard Landis. A dinner together and some conversation led to Brady's trip to Landis's studio to play some of his new songwriting efforts.
Virginia native Keith Horne was a guitarist from the age of 6. After winning a number of guitar-picking contests in his home state, he formed a jazz band that backed Ramsey Lewis on the BET cable channel. He¹d grown up with The Wooten Brothers, famed for their work in Bela Fleck and The Flecktones. They talked him into relocating to Nashville and let him room with them during his first six months in town.
A multi-instrumentalist like the others, Keith toured with Tanya Tucker, Waylon Jennings, Peter Frampton, Ricky Van Shelton, Chaka Kahn, Trisha Yearwood, Sons of the Desert and Lonestar. He dreamed of breaking into recording session work, but by 2003, another dream began to take that one's place.
In February 2003 Keith Horne joined the other three at Richard Landis's studio. The chemistry was instantaneous. By the end of the day, Hot Apple Pie had recorded four tunes. All four wound up on their CD "We're Makin' Up," "Easy Does It," "The Good Life" and "Annabelle."
2. We're Makin' Up
3. California King
4. Easy Does It
5. Good Life
6. Why Can't I Get to You
7. Shape I'm In
8. Slowin' Down the Fall
9. Redneck Revolution
10. Annabelle (Arkansas Is Callin' You)
11. Everybody Wants to Dance With My Baby
12. I Should've Seen Her Leavin' Comin'
13. All Together Now