Mr. Mustache :: A Eulogy
I’ve always been of the opinion that the occasion of my meeting Mr. Mustache was somehow fated. The way it actually happened was so strangely coincidental that looking back on it I really can’t convice myself there’s any way it wasn’t meant to be so. I was a 17-year old recent high school grad in my driveway unpacking my car from a long Bonnaroo trip. They were a group of kids from McDonough that somehow found themselves riding around my neck of the woods (an hour away) due to the freak coincidence that 16-year old Anthony Aparo had relatives in my neighborhood (whose store I actually worked at for a whole summer - you see how far back this mess goes??) They were promoting their show at a local venue that my bands frequented at the time, Swayzes. I told them I’d take a ticket, and I gave them an album I had recently recorded called The Story So Far. It was a genuinely pleasant encounter; they turned their car around and drove back by blasting the first song yelling “KIRBY! KIRBY!!” We were pretty much friends already from a 2 minute encounter. They said their band name was Mr. Mustache.
I went inside to look them up and, expecting to hear some kind of homemade grungy punk (a la the Nirvana song), I started the song "Black Vines" and was, right out of the gate, fucking floored. I have no other way of describing it - the level of songcraft and innate musicality took me by complete surprise, I still don’t think I’ve experienced something quite like it on the local scene before or since. These were 16-year old kids writing and recording these brilliant pop songs in the comfort of their bedrooms - and granted I was trying to do the same, but not like this. This was clearly something special. I showed everyone I could this song and absolutely wore it out hoping that I could get to know the people behind it a little better and maybe assimilate them into this group or team idea I’d been trying to develop called Marching Banana.
In the coming months, I split and moved to Athens and they stayed in south Georgia, but we kept in closer touch. They headlined a birthday fest we put on when I turned 18, we opened for them at the Swayzes Homecoming that fall. All the while they were homerecording a collection of songs that was to comprise their first and only album, Broken-Hearted Dance. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, they were ready to release the record in February 2012. A few weeks beforehand they came up to Athens, and we decided to test our new idea for a video series called In The Barn. We shot the core four members - Anthony Aparo (banjo, guitar, voice) Jacob Chisenhall (guitar, voice) Jack Wucher (upright bass, voice) and Jordan Tumlin (guitar, voice) - performing tracks from their live repetoire. The first video of lead single "Borrowed and Blue" was viewed thousands of times in mere days, the followup cover song "Bullfighter Jacket" recieved praise from the original artists themselves, Miniature Tigers! It felt good for everyone to see this group of fresh, young artists get some recognition for their work. I remember drinking wine and dancing in the barn with Elias and Asia that night listening to the playbacks from earlier in the day. Something was abuzzz.
It was around this time too where they approached us about “putting out their record” - which essentially meant adding some MBR-015 stickers to the shrinkwrap and emailing a few blogs. We printed up some shirts for the Broken-Hearted Dance release show and took them to a sold-out Ragamuffin Music Hall in Roswell, GA on the night of February 25th, 2012. It was a really great time for everyone, still well in their teens with the world seemingly limitless.
What happened in the year after is really no one’s fault but time’s. It was clear from the beginning that Mr. Mustache possessed two very unique and driven writers in Jake and Anthony, and while their interplay and compromise made their music very effective, I think it’s safe to say it also began to take an artistic toll on both friends. A new EP was recorded that spanned from folk-rock to 60’s pop to modern chamber-pop to New Orleans blues - and that’s just in the four songs that were tracked. The fellas first EP “Jangle N Twang” was scattered, but this was different: Mr. Mustache was essentially playing 4 different bands at once.
I’d probably say the only real disappointment in the story of the band is that these recordings never came to light - they are so staggeringly masterful with such an effortless cool that it certainly would’ve sent them straight to local darling status. But it was clear that Anthony and Jake were simply shifting artistically - not apart necessarily, just in different directions. It was like watching a band put out their “Meet The Beatles” and then jump straight to their “White Album”. They were playing backing band to each other.
All this is to say, Mr. Mustache is now a memory, though still a very important chapter in everyone’s collective story. This is a band that was unceasingly professional, consistently passionate and above all incredibly genuine. They made music for anyone and everyone, and they challenged everyone in this community to think and create with a bit more love and swing, and to always push towards being better. Anthony Aparo now records and tours under his own name and just launched a new EP and accompanying fundraising project which you can read about here. Jacob Chisenhall, Jack Wucher, and BHD mix-master Richard Salino now play in an Athens pop outfit of the name Fake Flowers. They were recently featured in a local Red & Black segment which can be viewed here, with a debut EP/single forthcoming.
Though neither Anthony or Jake are explicitly affiliated with us anymore, we are all still in touch and creating music in the same spirit. We wish them the very best in all their future endeavors, and say goodbye with a heartfelt thank you for all they taught us about living and creating art!