Hi there, how are you? Where are you at the moment, doing what?
I am doing excellent, thanks for reaching out to the band. I am currently at my house in Akron and I just got done jamming little bit. I have since parked my ass on the couch and am jumping between watching the Cleveland Indians play the Kansas City Royals, and the movie 'Me, Myself and Irene'.
First of all, for those who do not (really) know the band: can you tell our readers something more about the ins and outs of the band and its past?
Well, the band was formed in 2006, in Akron, Ohio. “The Trees” consists of a bunch of friends from high school. But, we had been playing together in some capacity for many years even before that. Zack and I (Cody) are brothers, so we have been jamming for most of our lives. Zack wrote a majority of the songs off of the self titled EP and Above The Earth, Below The Sky while he was at school in Pittsburgh and decided to re-record and play them live. Mike, Jeff, Tom and I joined him shortly after and started If These Trees Could Talk. We are a five-piece instrumental band consisting of three guitars, drums and bass and we play a heavier shade post-rock/post-metal/ambient/Rock. However you like to describe it is up to you. We are not your typical touring band - in the sense that we all have day jobs and playing in the Trees is more of a side project for us. That doesn't mean that we aren't passionate about the band, it's just that we were all pretty established by the time we gained some notoriety as a band. I'm sure if we were all a bit younger and not starting families, we would be on the road 24/7. We play whenever we get the chance and love writing new material; so, this system works out well for us and we plan on continuing writing instrumental music that we can be proud of.
If These Trees Could Talk has just released their new album, ‘Bones Of A Dying World’. Are you satisfied with the result? How is the response so far from both press and audience?
We are absolutely stoked on the release of the new record and couldn't be more psyched about the overall response and feedback. Our fans are extremely supportive and vocal about how they feel about our music. Since signing to Metal Blade, we have also gained number of listeners that we may not have got through to in the past. I think that our fans know what they are going to get with every new Trees album, but there are aspects of each new record that they may not expect. The press feedback has also been tremendous. The growth of the band puts us on a larger platform and opens us up for more critiquing, so with more positive feedback you have to expect more negative feedback, as well. I mean, it is the Internet and nobody holds back. We are not everyone's cup of tea, but 98% of the response I have seen thus far is overwhelmingly positive and we couldn't be anymore happy with how The Bones of A Dying World has been received.
What is the difference – if any – between this new release and the previous albums of the band? Is there a difference in approach, in songwriting, in the atmosphere, the use of the instruments?
This release was conceived from parts that Zack and I had been working on for a long time. When it was time to release a new album with Metal Blade, we basically had most of the structures down. They just needed to be completed. We pretty much have a vault of riffs that we just Frankenstein together. That's kind of how we have always done things. I come to him with a idea and he helps structure it into something cohesive. I think the biggest difference between this album and the previous, is the technicality of the parts. The song structure and the parts are very much reminiscent of the past, but our technique has developed over the years. Each album we do, I try to challenge myself as much as possible and push my playing ability. I try to write leads that tastefully fit into the song and that hopefully add another layer or dimension to the track. The parts for this album were certainly given a lot more time and thought than in previous records. We knew that we had to step up our game since it would be our first release as a signed band, so we busted our asses day and night to get there.
I really like the guitar sound of the band. It is different from other instrumental guitar bands like for instance Mogwai or Tides From Nebula. It is a sound that reminds me of the sound of Tristeza from San Diego, the precursor of The Album Leaf. Something you recognize?
All of these bands are great; we have all been huge Mogwai fans for a long time. I'm pretty sure they inspired Zack to write our entire first album. When we first started playing our originals live, we often played 'Hunted By A Freak'. We love these type of bands sound, but we also wanted to create our own style and produce a sound that people hear and know that it is the Trees. We have always been into the heavier shade of things, so I think that really comes out in our music and makes it easy for people to transition from many different genres. I believe our music has a lot to offer to a wide variety of fans.
At this moment my favorite track of the album is ‘Iron Glacier’ a brilliant composition. How does a song like that come together? Does it start as a jam or are there already ideas or structures that step by step lead to a song?
As I had said before, this was one of those parts that I had been working on at home and took it took Zack to help me structure. It just took off and kind of bloomed into this epic eight and a half minute ride. It was structured out of the intro and chorus and we just kept adding different melodies to it. We added the break down in the middle and added a guitar with heavy delay and a rotovibe pedal to give it a very airy feel. The breakdown resolves into this very calming feeling, but then the outro just kind of crushes that emotion and makes you feel kind of uneasy. It’s probably my favorite track off of the new record because there are so many ups and downs throughout it. It’s tough to explain without letting someone hear how it initially came to be. I have the original voice memo in my phone that is an extremely stripped down version of the song. It sounds completely different, but it's cool to hear how much it developed after we reworked it.
Do you think that you can tell as much with instrumental music as you can do with a singer and lyrics? If so, how does it work? And if not, do you not want to tell a story or make a statement with your music?
You may not be able to get a message across as clearly without the presence of lyrics, but you don't need lyrics to evoke emotion. Listeners are completely free to interpret our songs in whatever way they feel. We never set out to make a statement with our music. We don't want to tell people how to think or what to believe, we just want to make music that we are proud of and music that we think will stimulate people enough to come up with their own stories. I think that's what's so great about instrumental music. It doesn't have to stand for anything, it puts every person in a different state of mind. People have come up to me with stories of how our music has affected them or how it helped them through tough times. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that we can make a positive impact on someone's life just through the art of riffing.
What are the plans for the band for the coming months? Are you guys going on a (extensive) tour? Do you play any festivals? Are you coming to Europe?
The most extensive tour we have lined up right now is in September. Since the band’s conception in 2006, we have never ventured out to the west coast, so that was kind of first on the priority list. It's hard to get everyone in the band away from work for long periods of time, so we have to pick and choose and spread the shows out as much as possible. We have done a Europe stint in the past, along with countless weekend warrior shows around Ohio and the East coast, so it was natural for us to set up the next tour across America. We are also gearing up for some shows on the east coast in a couple of weeks. In October, we will be playing a festival up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada called the Up Downtown festival that we are very excited to be a part of. There are no plans as of now for any European shows, but we had such an amazing time in 2012 throughout Europe that I wouldn't rule out a possible European tour next year.
If these trees could talk, what would they say?
They would say, go check out ‘The Bones of a Dying World’ out now on Metal Blade records! They would also say thank you to anyone who has given us a chance in the past. Whether you liked it or hated it, we appreciate your support. And thanks to Lords of Metal for letting us tell our story. Thank you.