Interview: If These Trees Could Talk

Hi Michael, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Okay, let’s start at the beginning… Going right back to the start, who are the influences that inspired If These Trees Could Talk to pick up instruments and create music? There must be a Neil Young/Crazy Horse fan in there somewhere?

“Not so much actually. We all grew up on Tool being a GIANT influence on us, but other bands as well. Mainly, Pink Floyd, Deftones, and others within that vein of music. We are all pretty diverse in our musical likings, so the inspiration could come from anywhere.”

The band name… we see a lot of unusual ones, but If These Trees Could Talk sticks out for reasons I’m unable to explain. It just seems so apt to the music you create. How did the band name come about?

“It was a term that the Kelly brother’s grandfather used to say all of the time. When we were trying to decide what to call ourselves, we kept circling back to ‘If These Trees Could Talk’, so we stuck with it. We never thought it would reach as far as it has, so there you have it!”

We review a lot of Scandinavian music that we refer to as Big music… where the bands come from colossal landscapes, and the scenery inspires them to write music that reflects what nature throws at them. Is this what drives your music, your environment in Ohio, or is it other influences?

“It could be anything really. Life tends to be the biggest inspiration when writing or developing new tunes. Ohio certainly has a unique enviroment and landscape that appeals to the darker parts of our sensibility, but by and large, life seems to be the biggest motivator.”

If we go back in time to your eponymous debut EP, your sound has grown but you haven’t really changed tack. How did you come up with this cinematic sound (I’m avoiding the term post-rock)?

“Our drummer really laid the foundation for what the If These Trees Could Talk sound was and is in it’s current state. He laid the foundation for that first EP while he was as student in Pittsburgh. He came home and showed all of us the tunes and was casually talking about playing it live. I believe he was listening to Mogwai a lot back then, so it carried over to his writing.”

So, let’s talk about the new release, ‘The Bones Of A Dying World’. Things take time, and this seemed to keep the fans guessing when it was going to be ready. It was a long eighteen months! How do you go about recording such an intricate album… and keeping sane?

“We don’t! It was a long process that took a lot of time to complete. Main reason for the lag was just not settling for things just because we wanted to be done. I always said to the guys that theres no reason to put something out unless you aren’t 100% satisfied with it. Once it’s out, it’s done and cemented. Can’t go back. So we kept that in mind. Also, there were breaks in the process due to various life events that needed our time. We are not a full time band, so we don’t typically operate in that fashion unless we are touring/promoting the record.”

The album appears to be a step up from ‘Red Forest’ in terms of the richness and depth of the sound. Was this a conscious decision, or was it just the growth of the band and the organic nature of the music?

“I’d say it was very organic and natural. We didn’t strive to up the ante from Red Forest, it just kind of came out that way. I think every band tries to step up the sound with each release, and we are no different in that regard. After playing for as long as we have, we have to strive to become better players and writers to keep things interesting for us.”

‘Berlin’ is perhaps the most progressive track on the album. It reminded me of wet days driving across the city at night, with no one else on the road. Was it a conscious decision to do a track to stand out on the album and perhaps hint at what is coming next?

“Not at all, actually. When I first heard the demo of ‘Berlin’, I knew it was going to be different than the rest of the record, and that’s why I loved it so much. It’s different, but it still has the If These Trees Could Talk vibe to it. I wouldn’t say it’s an example of things to come, but it’s defintiely a different side to the sound.”

Being an instrumental band can sometimes challenge for the casual listener, but at the same time, it crosses barriers, as you are not singing in a particular language. Given the healthy sales you had before joining the Metal Blade camp, would it be fair to say that If These Trees Could Talk music is universal? What is the furthest outpost your music has reached?

“Universal is a great way to put it. There’s no language barrier to overcome, so it’s limitless. As far as I can tell, the music has reached all corners of the globe in terms messages, merch and sales that we have seen. It’s still crazy to get messages from people in far flung areas of the world who are rocking out to your tunes, but it’s also one of the greatest feelings in the world.”

Have the good people at Metal Blade got If These Trees Could Talk lined up for a tour? There must be an opportunity to crack out a festival or two?

“There’s been a few opportunities that we have been submitted for, but we all work full time, so it’s hard to get out as much as we’d like. We are about to start a full US tour, where we will be going all the way out west and back. We do a 4 date east coast swing this coming weekend, and the full tour starting in September. We are also headlining a date at the Up + Downtown Festival in Edmonton Canada in October. After that, we shall see!”

We normally finish on the strange question, often alcohol related, but this is about the ‘If These Trees Could Talk’ EP, specifically the track, ‘Friscalating Dusklight’. Can you settle an argument here, please? Is this a  Royal Tenenbaums reference?

“Correct! You are correct!”

Ha! I knew it! Well, thank you so much for your time, and good luck with the US tour. 

Interview: Craig Grant


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