On the rise: Bay Simpson and the Outlaw Apostles

Brooke J. Freundschuh, A&E Editor

One could say that 22 year old Bay Simpson was raised by Muscle Shoalsmusic. 

As a Florence native,  his roots all run back into the singing Tennessee River, under the southern stars. 

Simpson is now the front-man of his band, Bay Simpson and the Outlaw Apostles who are making a name for themselves in Florence. The Apostles perform every Wednesday night at FloBama in downtown Florence at 8:30 PM, but the rocks they are climbing right now are just pebbles in the path to what is destined to be a career of success. 

The band was formed in late 2018 by Bay Simpson, who grew up in the area’s music scene with his parents, Angela Hacker and James LeBlanc, who have both played music locally for years. LeBlanc is a songwriter, and his son, Simpson’s stepbrother, Dylan LeBlanc is a recording artist from the area as well. 

In high school, Simpson played golf. After graduating, he took a scholarship to play golf for a university in Arkansas, but after completing his first year, he realized that his true calling was music. He transfered to The University of North Alabama and started majoring in Entertainment Industry.

“The professors are cool. I’ve known a couple of them my whole life, because they’ve worked in the business around here. My family works in the business as well. It’s a really down to earth department. It feels like home. They do their best to help out and they give good advice about what it’s really like to be in the entertainment business,” Simpson said.

Simpson’s original vision for the band that would become the Outlaw Apostles was just a cover band that would play the local bar scene in Florence. 

“We were just going to start a little bar band, playing cover songs,” he explained.

The other members of his band are seasoned musicians that play around locally. The formation of the band started not only with Simpson, but with Evan Lane, who is now the Apostle’s drummer. Lane was a friend of LeBlanc who played with Simpson’s parents regularly. 

Simpson recalls his conversation with Lane, saying, “I was like ‘hey man, let’s start a cover band’ and he was like ‘well I’ve got the guys, lets get together and rehearse.’ And it ended up being our band.”

The Apostles are formed of Simpson, who does lead vocals; Lane, who plays drums, guitarists Tre Srygley and Christian White and bassist, Aaron Stapler.

Simpson is the youngest of the group, at five or more years younger than the other members, who have more performing experience. 

“They’re all guys that play around this area and have played around here for a while,” he said.

Simpson’s personal musical inspirations are the Eagles and Tom Petty. He initially thought the Apostles would be performing covers of songs by these artists, but only a few months after they started out, they became very invested in writing their own music. This passion was accelerated by a break they got with a producer, who encouraged them to continue making their own music.

“We played a couple of gigs playing covers, and we were already starting to do our own thing. Then we picked up interest from a producer that we didn’t really expect, and we just dove into the band thing. We focused on our original stuff and being a band instead of playing covers. Once that happened we stopped. My producer has a production company and a publishing company. He’s my stepfather’s publisher, so that’s how we knew him. He really liked us and wanted to start working with us,” Simpson said. 

The band’s unique name is inspired by lyrics from one of their early songs, “Name of the Game,” which state “from Bible to bottle, outlaw apostles who don’t give a damn what you say.”

Another break came for Simpson shortly after the band’s formation when he became the recipient of the John Paul White scholarship, which gave himself and the Apostles the opportunity to open for White’s “Home for the Holidays” concert in Dec. 2019. 

The band was set to play a large show case in the Spring of 2020, which was, of course, interrupted by Covid-19, as all things in the music industry were. 

However, the Apostles used this time to work on their own songwriting. They have an entire album written. As for their writing dynamic, Simpson says,

“We try to all bring ideas to the table, and it doesn’t really matter whose idea it is, if it’s something we like, we go for it. We don’t get too caught up in genre. We sit down and write what we feel as a group, that’s the only way I know to do it.”

Simpson does categorize the group as southern rock, of the likes of Lynryd Skynrd, Led Zeppelin guitars and Eagles sentimental harmonies. 

Simpson’s biggest influence is his mom. “Family is the biggest influence by far to me. Music is a really tough thing, and I think a lot of people get scared away, and they can’t tough it out, but my family- I’ve seen all these people chase their dream, and that’s a good example to see. I don’t really have any fear of failure, because I’ve seen people go after it their whole life and make it work.”

The group is currently working with their producer in search of a record deal, which prevents their music from being available for streaming online. Some of their best work is accessible only at their live shows.

“My personal favorite is our song, ‘Forgive me Father.’  We’ve got a song called ‘The New Normal,’ which nobody will hear unless they come see our live show. That’s just a great rock song that goes well with society today,” Simpson commented.

These tunes can be heard at FloBama, an experience that is providing a great opportunity for the band. 

“FloBama was definitely the best opportunity we’ve had since Covid, but its just a great spot, a place to play every week. We’re on stage playing together in front of some people, which is good, because we got to keep this thing together and keep rolling. To have a gig every week keeps you tight as a band. We’ve been working pretty hard to get people out to it. I feel like our music would definitely suit the college market. Just getting people there and getting them into it and believing in it, Simpson says. 

To gain people who believe in his music is all Simpson can really hope for.

For now, his goal is to get on the road and keep sharing his music with others, in the name of good old southern rock and roll. 

“We’re pushing to find someone who wants to put us on the road and really believes in it, and I think that’s going to come. We’ve just got to stick together and stay in it. I think that’s what you got to do, because Covid is just a giant storm cloud hanging over the music industry. The storm will eventually pass, and the groups that stay together and stay ready, those are the groups that are going to make it.”