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And Also The Trees

Shaletown: Articles - 92

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Interview by Ivor Thiel
     While the Green of Nature retires, AND ALSO THE TREES have kept their authenticity and their style of music even in the 13th year of their existence. Their music can be desribed best as both sad and beautiful. Anxiety and depression change with light-flooded, enthusiastic pieces of clear beauty, based on Justin Jones' voluminous guitar-clusters and Simon Huw Jones' intensive, but smooth, sometimes even fragile voice. Who is not fully convinced of their records, should make his mind open for the mood the band spreads when they play live.

GLASNOST: On the new album you used a lot of instruments from the classical field. Can you say something about this development?
Simon: We had such instruments also on "Farewell To The Shade". In opposite to the past, Justin played a lot of things on the Keyboard. In the past the songs were built around a guitar melody. This time we changed the process a little bit because Justin began to search for melodies on Marc's Keyboard.
GLASNOST: You still write the lyrics?
Simon: I don't play any instrument. Except for one, all lyrics are from me.
GLANOST: Where does the title "Green In The Sea" come from?
Simon: Titles are special to us. We never know why we entitle something somehow. Somehow, it always seems to be the right title for an LP, although in the first moment there seems to be no special meaning in it. "Green Is The Sea" is the first line of a poem of which we also have taken our band name: "Green is the sea and also the trees".
GLASNOST: From which poem is it?
Simon: It is from the lyrics of one of our songs.
GLASNOST: You said that it's very important to you that the feeling of the music fits with the feeling of the lyrics. Why shouldn't the titles fit, too?
Simon: But it is that way, we always had the feeling that the title of every LP goes with the entirety of the songs.
GLASNOST: Seeing you play live, one gets the impression that time has been standing still. Do you feel the same, is that your intention?
Simon: No, that happens unconsciously. We rarely plan what we do. it's like a reflection of our soul.
GLASNOST: You live in the house of your parents, a very old house in the country. A little oasis, a refuge of silence and getting back to yourself?
Simon: It's becoming less silent. Civilisation is breaking in over us. The towns are coming nearer. It's like the lost paradise. The rural atmosphere fades more and more. It's not idyllic anymore, but it's become quite hectic. In the night, the sky is more orange and in the day there's less green in the fields.
GLASNOST: Where does your inspiration come from to write such lyrical and romantic lyrics?
Simon: The surrounding was and still has the biggest influence on me, beside the music. I get a tape and listen to it and retire to see what the music makes me feel like. "Red Valentino" was very difficult for me because it sounded very urban and was not typical at all for AND ALSO THE TREES. So I had to look for an urban rememberance in my mind, of which I haven't many. I collected my only few impressions of cities during tours.
GLASNOST: What do you do if you get a tape that doesn't inspire you at all? Will there be no lyrics then, or will the song remain unreleased?
SIMON: Every now and then, that happens. I look for lyrics very long then and if nothing comes into my mind, we re-write the piece or leave it as an instrumental. Sometimes we even forget pieces because they need lyrics but i don't find any. The music has to move me, so I can write lyrics for it. Maybe there will be an experience in four years that will fit to one of those lost pieces.
GLASNOST: You do not write the music. Do you see the danger of a gap between music and lyrics? Or are you as a group tied emotionally in such a strong way that it will always be an entity?
Simon: I don't know. Maybe one day that will happen. But one of the strongest connections within the group is the blood-relationship between me and my brother. I cannot imagine that we will ever diverge. We lived together too long for that and are dependent on each other.
GLASNOST: Many people find AND ALSO THE TREES' music melancholic, depressive or romantic. Do you see it the same way?
Simon: Melancholic and romantic - sometimes, but a special kind of romanticism. Depressive? I don't know, the music doesn't make me depressive. I don't think that's the right word. There is a lot of joy in it; often our music makes me happy.
GLASNOST: Can you describe this feeling? When I listen to your music, it evokes strong emotions in me.
Simon: It's normal that the music touches people differently. For me personally, this music evokes strong emotions in me, stronger than anybody else's music. Some months ago, I suffered from a deep depression and was not interested in anything. I did not know what to do with myself and could not listen to any music. The only thing I was able to listen to was the guitar music that Justin had written for me and for which the lyrics had to be done. I listened to the piece over and over again, and it built me up. I felt hope again. But I cannot expect that everybody feels that way.
GLASNOST: What do you think is necessary to understand this kind of music?
Simon: My best friend doesn't like And Also The Trees. So I don't know why someone does like our music and the other one does not. We understand each other well, he does music himself, but his and my music have nothing in common. It has got nothing to do with personalities, but with behaviour: The ability to face up to certain feelings. Many people are afraid to face up to a melancholic mood, for instance to that one I'm getting into when listening to a fair guitar-melody.
GLASNOST: One important topic of your lyrics is Nature which is becoming worse and worse year by year. Will this development of Nature find a mirror in your lyrics? Will you speak more explicitly about topics such as environmental pollution or similar things in your lyrics?
Simon: No, not in a more explicit form. That's not my style. I don't write exactly about Nature. In an allegoric form, I let Nature flow into my lyrics or I use metaphors like in "The Suffering Of The Stream". It sounds like the story about a man and a woman, but at the same time it is the history of industrialisation and the therefore suffering Nature with the man incorporating Industry and the woman incorporating Nature. I love writing that way. "Blind Opera" is another good example. I was very sad because the old oak at our house had been felled, and I really wanted to write about that. But I did not want to write about a forester who had killed a tree. I write about things that move me and which I like. Writing about vandalism against Nature in an explicit way is rather not my style.
GLASNOST: Do your lyrics become sadder in the flow of time?
Simon: I don't think so because there is still hope. It wakes the need in me to fight and to stand up for the conservation of Nature. I want Nature to keep its power and its rage and hope to reflect this in my lyrics.
GLASNOST: Do you think the listener understands what's hidden in the lyrics?
Simon: I don't think that people understand the lyrics in every detail. But that's OK with me, otherwise I would annotate my lyrics. For example "The Rainbow Tears = oil-film on water". I do not want that. I believe that people understand the passion and the attitude behind my lyrics. That' the most important thing to me.
GLASNOST: Can you say something about your relation towards poets such as Byron or Shelley?
Simon: I've never read one of those poets. Maybe in school some poems by Shelley.
GLASNOST: Have you ever thought about releasing a book to AND ALSO THE TREES lyrics?
Simon: I think about it from time to time. I resolve to do so on every tour.
GLASNOST: Since 13 years…
Simon: Not exactly, our first gig was in 1980. It's hard to tell exactly when And Also The Trees were founded because we know each other for so long. From our childhood on we live in the same village, went to kindergarden together and to school. But I can't remember when we first got our hands to instruments. Sometime at the end of the Punk-rock-era. We wanted to form a punk-band, but obviously we did not manage to do that.
GLASNOST: An important secret of your success is your very own and constant style of your music and the constant image. What is the difference for you between the first and the last LP?
Simon: I cannot say anything about the first LP because it's so long ago. We used more technology with the years and have become more professional. The more important difference lies in our change as people. We always have tried to avoid to follow new trends and fashions. Our old record company Rough Trade always wanted to persuade to do it that way. I'm very happy that we never fell for the temptation of satisfying a special market, but that we have stayed the same people.

AND ALSO THE TREES were founded in the same period as Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Siouxsie & The Banshees or The Cure. The friendship with The Cure was a trap for them because the music-press always asserted that they were influenced by The Cure. After all, The Cure-Drummer Laurence Tulhurst had produced their first LP and they toured with The Cure. But they managed to break free from the The Cure-Image very impressively, just as impressive as they are when they fascinate the audience in their live-performances.

 Taken from :


English Translation by Mike Wissman


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