Tree Blood: We haven't played too many shows in above-ground venues
Photo by Holly Newlin
It might seem a bit anachronistic in the age of the cloud, but Tree Blood have really kicked the door in on the Twin Cities indie and punk communities thanks to their hand-to-hand DIY practices. Starting with an intriguing (and award-winning) name and a challenging two-piece setup, the duo of guitarists Colin Wilkinson and Simon Brooks added drummer Walker Neudorff of Solid Attitude to the fold this year, allowing Brooks and Wilkinson to follow the noisy rabbit trail that the band has been on since its inception even deeper. Drifting further away from the more traditional melodic punk of their first two tapes, Tree Blood have been carving out a territory all their own during their summer tape series, adding a level of unhinged ferocity with more explosive, unpredictable songwriting than ever.
We caught up with Tree Blood at the end of a marathon 10-hour rehearsal at their practice space in northeast Minneapolis to talk about their slot as the opener for our 10 Thousand Sounds Festival and how their band sometimes acts as group therapy.
Gimme Noise: It hasn't been all that long since we last talked to you guys in advance of your release so for your First tape. What have you been up to since then?
Simon Brooks (Baritone Guitar and Vocals): We've just been writing songs and having this strict deadline of every month, we're putting out a three-song tape and we're writing it, recording it, dubbing the tapes ourselves and cutting all the sleeves and all that shit. That's what we've been working on, we didn't have all this shit written before, so we're just kinda doing it now.
Why do a tape a month? That seems like a hell of a high bar to set for yourselves.
Walker Neudorff (Drums): It's kind of just a way to make ourselves do it.
SB: Yeah, giving ourselves deadlines.
Colin Wilkinson (Guitar and Vocals): It really pushes us to actually create something, but at the same time, it's not jarring in the way that like, "Oh this is a song, let's put it out." Everything we tried to do with this next tape is sounding really good, like, we've been playing the songs all day and...
SB: It's just a way to push ourselves.
CW: It's really making us really think about what we want to put out. We want to put out good stuff, and we want people to really like it.
SB: I want ourselves to like it, and that's a big thing about what we've been doing, is not just writing a song and being like, "Okay, that's a song." We go back, we analyze it, be like, "Okay, I don't like this about this song" and "What can we do, how can we change this and make it better?" We're not doing things that we're not proud of. So it's been really cool to put that pressure on ourselves, but at the same time make ourselves work on things and come out with material that we're really proud of. Because we started as a two-piece, so when Walker came in a lot of it was teaching him old songs and kinda wrote some songs for that old tape, and this is the first tape that through and through is just all co-written material, all just straight Tree Blood.
WN: And even the First tape, some of the songs were old material that they kinda had together that they were sort of doing but never recorded that we picked up, but like he said, this is the first thing that we've done together as a band, as a three-piece, so I think this one is different. This is us. One Direction.
Why have your release show for First in a DIY venue? Do you guys play the "traditional" club circuit much at all?
SB: We love basement shows.
CW: That's our element, pretty much. Simon and I ran a punk house way back called the 108, and that was in St. Paul. It was fun, we had a great time.
SB: We play the Hex a lot, the 331... but we haven't played too many shows in above-ground venues.
WN: We haven't played too many shows as a three-piece.
SB: We play regularly, but we're not like Teenage Moods, I feel like they play five shows a month, like we'll do one or two a month. And the winter was tough, we didn't do too much stuff.
You guys are probably the most left-of-the-dial band on the lineup for this year's 10 Thousand Sounds Festival. How are you guys feeling about this show?
CW: We definitely feel kind of out of place, in a way.
WN: It felt like an offer that I didn't grasp the weight of, or what it was actually going to be, at the time.
SB: It's not that we mind playing weird bills or bills that we won't fit in, because we just want to show up and do our thing, you know.
You guys are very personally close as a band. You live together, work together, hang out all the time. Does that proximity help you stay on target with the pace of writing you're currently in?
WN: I'm especially feeling that today, I mean, we've been at the practice for 10 hours. Not a full 10 hours, we took a dinner break, but only a few blocks away. We've just been here all day. We had these song bones for new songs that we wanted to do on the tape, and we had rough recordings of them on a phone, we listened to them, were like "all right, we're gonna do this, do this..." and just played the songs and did it. All of a sudden it was like, "Okay! There's the songs! We just did it! Oh wow!" That's the big thing that I like about this band, we're all around each other, we can feel each other, we know how to tune in lots of different ways in life emotionally and musically.
SB: We're all involved in each others' lives, so when shit happens we write songs about it together. We're all very intertwined.
WN: "Sorry that this happened to you, let's write a song about it."
SB: "That girl sucks."
WN: "Yeah, fuck that girl, let's write a song about her." [laughs]
So the band works a little bit like codependent therapy?
WN: Yeah, that's a part of any art that you produce, it's just a purge of emotion, and it's nice to have a collective purge. Like we all know what we're all doing, we all know what we went through, let's purge.
SB: It's emotionally draining too. Especially practicing all day.
WN: I was worried about this guy for the past few hours because he was just sitting in the corner, like "are you gonna be okay man?"
SB: "No, it's good, I just gotta have that purge!"
So, can you give us any clues about this mysterious "Second Tape" y'all are working on?
SB: The goal is to have the tape ready by the 10k festival.
WN: Maybe we'll call it Segundo. We can do a different language for every tape.
CW: We don't know...we've got 13 days, we'll name it! It'll happen.
Set Times: 4:10 p.m. Tree Blood 4:55 p.m. Frankie Teardrop 5:40 p.m. Carroll 6:30 p.m. Allan Kingdom 7:20 p.m. Sylvan Esso 8:35 p.m. Poliça
Tree Blood. With Polica, Sylvan Esso, Allan Kingdom, Frankie Teardrop, and Carroll. The 2014 10 Thousand Sounds Festival, presented by Coldwell Banker Burnet, will be held between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, at the parking lot on Hennepin Avenue between North 10th and 11th Streets in downtown Minneapolis.
Tickets are $25 (general admission) / $45 (VIP). Available here. Note, VIP tickets will not be sold at the door, and GA tickets will be $30 at the door.
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