Tight-knit noise rockers Tree Blood are going all out
On Memorial Day weekend, Tree Blood's Walker Neudorff and Colin Wilkinson hit the Hexagon to watch their pals in local psych-rock act Vats play. By the time Vats took the stage, the boys were beyond tipsy. Wilkinson and Neudorff formed their own mosh pit, teetering back and forth with their arms around each others' shoulders. At one point, Neudorff lifted his shirt and wordlessly invited Wilkinson to rub his stomach. After obliging, Wilkinson peered down at his friend and the two locked eyes in a manner that signaled something like, "I love you, dude."
That Monday, Wilkinson, Neudorff, and the Minneapolis-based noisy post-punks' singer and guitarist, Simon Brooks, hosted an eight-hour Memorial Day barbecue featuring a multi-course meal of potatoes au gratin, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, chicken tacos, burgers, steak, and grilled fruit salad. But the star of the afternoon was Wilkinson's summer creation, the truck pool — a pool made in the back of Wilkinson's 2000 Chevy S10 by laying down a tarp and filling the bed with hose water. The party was sparsely attended, but it didn't matter — they had each other. They ate all the food, lounged in the truck pool, played a Madonna tape, and cracked jokes until nightfall.
The inseparable Tree Blood boys live in the same south Minneapolis apartment, work at the same restaurant, and they play in the same band. They toke, blast Gucci Mane, and watch 9/11 conspiracy videos while assembling tape sleeves together. For most, their situation reeks of a recipe for disaster, but they swear they don't grow sick of each other.
"Sometimes it gets to be a lot living with three straight white dudes," says Holly Newlin, Brooks's girlfriend and the only non-Tree Blood member living at the apartment. "They're a bunch of dicks, but they're all, at heart, nice boys."
Wilkinson, who also plays guitar, and Brooks formed Tree Blood two and a half years ago while studying at McNally Smith, Wilkinson for music business and Brooks for production. Shortly after, they met Neudorff through shows with his Iowa City-based band, Solid Attitude, and invited him to play drums. He moved to Minneapolis last August.
Last summer, Tree Blood released a five-song self-titled tape recorded by Brooks and put out by MJ MJ records. This summer, they're putting out a new three-track tape every month, starting with the aptly titled "First," which drops at Tree Blood's show on Saturday at a local DIY venue with a cool name. The new tape marks a departure from the melodic, straight-forward rock 'n' roll sound that dominated their first tape and a movement toward cathartic auditory chaos.
"A lot of the songwriting is just us sitting around in this practice space," Brooks says.
"We don't even have to try," Wilkinson adds.
"We can't emphasize enough how little we try," Brooks retorts.
Tree Blood's practice space is located near a shipping yard in Northeast. The room, which they share with surf-rockers Holographic Sands, is cramped, carpeted, and prison-like with its barred, permanently shut window. A poster of Iggy Pop hangs on the wall near a graveyard of Sharpied upside-down crosses and various setlists from bands who once used the space. A speech bubble with the words "Party Hard" points toward Iggy's mouth. At one point in the evening, a collective effort was made to tape a cigarette to his lips.
"I don't think that's going to last very long because inevitably someone will run out of smokes," Newlin says.
After an hour of Tim and Eric jokes, drinking, and chain smoking, Tree Blood pick up their respective instruments and begin playing through the songs off the new tape. Neudorff stands while drumming, and as he thrashes back and forth like a man possessed, his necklace — composed of random trinkets and a few threads from a carpet — hits him from shoulder to shoulder. Meanwhile, Brooks closes his eyes and screams into the mic as his baritone guitar creates a wall of abrasive, inescapable sound. Wilkinson exists in his own world, standing with his back turned while churning out post-rock-inspired melodies that pierce through Simon's baritone like lightning strikes against a black sky.
By the last of the three songs, the three are sweating profusely. With their mini-set done, they sit back on the floor, crack open beers, and carry on with the jokes they were telling minutes before, as though nothing happened.
"Part of the reason why I think the band works so well is we kind of know what's going on in each other's lives," Neudorff says. "We're on the same wavelength."
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