The acclaimed alt rock/indie rock outfit Ivy — Andy Chase, Dominique Durand and the late Fountains of Wayne co-founder and frontman Adam Schlesinger — can trace their origins back to several events that feel more like a movie script than real life: Dominique Durand had no intentions of being a musician, let alone fronting a band, when she left Paris for New York in 1989, but some serendipitous events transpired that would change her life. In New York, she met Andy Chase, and the pair bounded over a shared love of 80s British bands like The Smiths and Orange Juice. With Durand’s encouragement, Chase began writing his first songs on guitar, eventually placing an ad in The Village Voice for collaborators.
That Voice ad caught the attention of Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood, who both arrived at Chase’s apartment with their own plans: They were hoping to enlist Chase for their own project, the Fountains of Wayne predecessor Pinwheel. Although the meeting didn’t yield either group the players they ere seeking, Chase and Durand were impressed by Schlesinger’s energy, and they kept up a correspondence.
Just as Chase and Durand were settling into a new life as a couple in New York, Durand was stopped at Boston Logan Airport, interrogated and then deported back to Paris. That turn of events is part of the obscured but deeply romantic origin story of the band, which was kept hidden out of fear it would color the perception of their music. But as the story goes, for Chase, there was no real option but to leave for France with the women he loved and then figure things out from here. The pair decided that it was only inevitable that they would get married anyway, so why not just go ahead with it.
Upon the pair returning to the States with a fiancé visa in hand, Chase suggested they finish the songs he’d been working on and perform them at the wedding — with Durand singing for the first time. Soon after, with the encouragement of a bottle of wine, the pair tracked material in their apartment, Schlesinger was enlisted to play bass, and he quickly fell i love with the material and Durand’s voice. At Schlesinger’s suggestion, they began to share the demo with record labels, and they were quickly signed to Seed Records, an Atlantic Records imprint — with ever having played a live set. Waking one morning to find he’d scribbled a list of potential names on a notepad the night before, Schlesinger suggested they adopt Ivy, and the band was born.
Sadly, Adam Schlesinger died in early 2020. But the surviving members of the band broke their long silence that year, to honor their old friend and bandmate, compiling home videos from studio sessions and early tours. Their tribute captures the innocence and wonder of a shared once-in-a-lifetime moment.
The band’s surviving members recently announced a vinyl re-issue of their seminal 1997 album Apartment Life, which is salted for a March 3, 2023 release through Bar/None Records. The album captures their singular brand of disaffected yet nuanced pop — and it will feature two previously unreleased singles here in the States “Sleeping Late” and “Sweet Mary,” which will be available digitally for the first time ever.
Of course, this will be the first time Apartment Life has been made available on vinyl: Bar/None Records will release a white vinyl edition and a limited edition blue vinyl edition will be made available through Newbury Comics. “This is probably the most important record Ivy ever made,” Ivy’s Andy Chase says of the album and of its reissue. “Me, Dominique and Adam were in NYC going from our apt to the studio every day. It was a glorious time for us – we would just wake up inspired and excited about everything we were doing. We knew we were becoming better at our craft and were excited to show the world. I think with this album we finally succeeded in demonstrating our ability to write and produce great pop songs. It was also the first and last time the three of us smoked pot for the entire duration of an album, supplied by our good friend and co producer Pete Nashel. We also had a healthy budget from Atlantic Records so we had a blast hiring horn players, string quartets, stretching our wings as producers and creating sounds in the studio we had never done before. Songs from this album appeared in countless tv shows, commercials and movies, putting us on the map in Hollywood among the music supervisors and directors, ultimately exposing us to a much larger universe. It was without a doubt the most fun we three ever had making music together. It was a special record for us and still is probably the favorite among our fanbase. For the past 20 years they have been asking for it on vinyl, and with Adam now gone, and IVY signing to Bar/None Records to re- release our entire catalogue of work, it was finally time to memorialize Apartment Life on vinyl.”
The surviving members of Ivy shared the re-issue’s first single, “Sleeping Late,” which was originally released as a bonus track for the Japanese edition of the album. Centered around a jaunty, Beatles-esque arrangement paired with Durand’s innocent, seemingly naive delivery. The song sees the trio managing a difficult balance of being cute without being twee, and tongue-in-cheek irony without sneering or mean-spiritedness.
“Despite being quite ambitious and driven, Dominique, Adam and I were not early risers, at all. Although ‘Sleeping Late’ started as a joke between us, underneath its cutesy, ironic exterior lives a more serious quintessential urban tale about being stuck at home and not wanting to leave,” Chase says. “Dominique always loved the Velvet Underground song ‘After Hours,’ loved the way Mo Tucker sang it, and tried to embody Mo’s innocent naivety and spirit in her vocal performance. We kept it simple and dry, inspired by early Beatles productions. We didn’t put it on the Apartment Life album since it was meant to be silly and sort of tongue and cheek, but we ultimately used it as a bonus track for the Japanese release, figuring over there most people wouldn’t understand the lyrics and never know what lazy idiots we were.”