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And Also The Trees

Shaletown: Articles - 1998

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                             AND ALSO THE TREES
                          Sideline No.24 Sept.-Oct. 1998

                                       The legendary and enigmatic And Also The Trees recently played Belgium during their  promotion tour for their now self-released new album.The Trees have always been a special band to me, apart from the crowdy cliche scene, away from the beaten  tracks...  They've always been themselves, carrying their own image and identity though the  years and over the releases. They are to music what poetry is to literature.  A  neverending source of images and feelings easy to perceive and experience, but still so  hard and difficult to comment and describe.  We met the singer and frontman of the  Trees who not only commented his record, but also told us about the aborted demise of  the band and their enthusiasm in loosing themselves into their texts and music.

Can you tell us more about the recording of your new record?

  What happened was that after the previous album we had some problems in music business.  We did the tour and really enjoyed the tour. We almost decided that we would quit you know!  It was too difficult to carry on. The audience's response was good, but the music business; the media  was bad. It's not not that we got bad reviews, we just didn't get any at all! And it was demoralising.
I don't mind if we get bad reviews if people are at least listening to the album and hearing it.  They wouldn't even listen to it ! We nearly stopped, and then I called my brother and said I wanted to do another album even if we don't make any money. Just for ourselves and the people who like the  Trees.

                    He came over to Switzerland where I'm living with all the equipment. We did lots of the work there in the mountains. And in February this year I came home to England and we went to Cornwall to record  the final vocals and do the mixes. The original drummer played on 2 songs, but he wasn't able to keep  drumming because he had to get another job, he's a designer.   We were lucky enough to meet the new one who really enjoys the new stuff. We played London for the first time in 6 years and our former drummer came to see us, it was the  first time since 1980 that he hadn't played with us ! And he came to see And Also The Trees and  said it was really good to see us from the front and not from the back (laugh).   He didn't want   to leave the group, but if you want to lead a normal life, then you can't be in the group any longer I don't complain  here, it's my choice.

    But if you're in an underground band making money is pretty tough! You don't have a regular income. Now it's great, we're touring, but there's lots of time when you're just working on music or lyrics, and
I don't want to sound to financially influenced but it's the reality of it! And we're a known group, but  we're not like somebody like Nick Cave, there's quite a big leaguer in between. He has gone beyond!

    Do You feel you still have the same motivation today?

     Yeah, we do the label thing ourselves. It's much easier. You know the music business is a big  game that takes a lot of energy. You have to make concessions, etc. I hate that side of it and I  always have.  But now we're making all ourselves I feel more comfortable about it.  Before this we were on a label  in Birmingham who were releasing ambient dub and techno music. They did Future Sound of London  and a few big compilations. And he heard that album and wanted to sign the Trees. So we decided to  quit Normal. We thought something different could happen cos it was a different label. And it was ok,  he was enthusiastic, he wanted the Trees to be a big band in England.  If he wanted to try, he tried!   But he was in front of a wall! It all got very depressing you know, we sent out 80 cd's for promotion  in Great Britain and did not get one review! there's just no excitement around And Also The Trees in  England! You have no press cos you don't gig, but you can't play when you have no press! Forget it! 

    Hmm I'm not bitter about it, I don't want to concentrate on England, that's all. I don't want to think  England is the centre of the universe. We just want to play our music.

      Tell us more about the front-sleeve of the new CD?

  Yeah!! Aah! It's from a set of playing cards that I bought. We're all interested in this area of 50's.   Some time the spirit of And Also The Trees emigrated to America. And when we were thinking one photograph of one of my playing cards. That's the one! It reminded me of the last track of the album.   Highway 4287, a song about this highway where there's a concentration, people are thinking, it's
about their feeling, and we play these cards when the juke box plays kitsh love songs.

      You have kitsh songs on the album, there's also one with jungle break beats?

    The members of And Also The Trees, we're all interested in different kinds of music. We play the  music we want to hear and we want to play. And the direction it goes is the one we feel comfortable with. We're trying all time to do something new, but still And Also The Trees. If there's a particular  style we like it will come out on the album.

    You were nervous on stage tonight?

    Yeah. It's because we haven't toured for 2 years. We got one gig in England which was fine. We  arrived to the venue at 3 and had a very very short soundcheck. But after 4 songs I was more  relaxed.It's all right being nervous, it can sometimes out something.

   Tonight you played together with Breathe Of Life who belong to the gothic scene. Isn't   it boring for you to play for such dark audience?

   Well, it's a different question cos there's a section of the gothic crowd that only wants to hear  Sisters Of Mercy and other bands copying them. And that's all they want to hear! But you have a section that like dark music but they're more expansive, they like Nick Cave, Chris Isaak, I don't know. It's not because they look like the gothic audience. It would be easy for us to say : ' no we don't want the gothic audience any more'  cos some of them are very progressive. They're open  to hear new tracks, new ideas from groups within that sphere. But we've a varied audience and I like  that!

     Tell us more about the writing process of the new album's texts?

   Well, when I was working on the vocals I had lots of books that might be appropriate, opening  them on the floor, then I just picked up a book and snag whatever came into my head and sometimes
I would pick up lines. And what I had after this session was a lot of vocal lines that didn't make  sense. I thought I didn't want to kill myself on the lyrics for that album. I wanted it to be more simple, I tried it but it didn't work! Something was missing, and that was the lyrics, they didn't have the depth ,so I had to start again. It took me another year to loose myself in the music and to write what I really  wanted to write.   The rest of the band hate  me in the end cos it takes me so long to write the texts and  I'm very difficult to work with.

      I hope you won't stop your career now...?

  I told you, I thought to stop during 2 months, but then there's a big hole! I have a good feeling  about this album any way. We loved doing it. We think it's worth doing. The main thing is the music not the music bizz.

      Did you do anything else during your break?

  I sang in a rockabilly band. It was the first project I ever did away from the Trees. We made a  lot of cover versions and my singing got better because of that experience. We did cheesy easy listening cover versions playing casino's and so. We even did an easy listening cover of Ace Of  Spades by Motorhead!

    In conclusion, which is your all time favourite song by the Trees?

    Hmm Slow Pulse Boy. It's such an old song, '86 or so, and I still get the kick playing it today.   And when you play a song so many times and you still love playing it, then it must be a special song.
Bands always say, yeah it's from the last album, cos it's the best, blablabla. This song will never seem  to date for me! It is still alive! It's different.

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