If These Trees Could Talk Speak to Sonic Abuse

Photo by Kosa©

If These Trees Could Talk are, in my opinion, one of the best post-rock bands out there.  So it was a real pleasure to talk to them before their first visit to Poland.


What any person that comes across your band should know about you?

We are “If These Trees Could Talk” or shortened unofficially to just “The Trees or Trees” . We are a 5 piece instrumental rock band from Akron, Ohio, USA. We have threes guitarists, a drummer and a bassist. We have a somewhat atmospheric sound but we like to play with a heavier, more aggressive tone.

Where did you came from as a band and where are you planning on taking it?

We are five friends who have been playing music together for many years. Members of our band have been in several different bands together in the past. We originally began playing our music as the Trees around the year 2004. We were all very much influenced by Mogwai and Tool at the time and wanted to create something similar but all our own. Another big influence on each of us individually is Pink Floyd. We all seem to have been into a more psychedelic and darker style of music and I think this bleeds through into our music.
We have been very blessed to have gotten a little bit of exposure and built up a decent following. We certainly would love to continue to grow our fan-base and our style musically. Touring more extensively would be our next progression. We love to play for new fans and would like to expand into regions we have not been able to play live yet. There are not enough Thank You’s to say to all of the people that have supported us thus far and we hope they stick with us into the future because we have no intention of stopping any time soon.

Do you guys think that when a tree falls down in a forest, and there’s no one there to hear it, does it  still make a sound?

I certainly do. Everything in this universe has a story that it could tell. We are trying to give a voice to the voiceless (without using words).

I know that your probably sick and tired of that question, but I have to ask about the name of the band. Whats the story behind that?

It was a favorite saying of our drummers’ and lead guitarists’ grandfather. It is an homage to a man that positively affected their lives. We all enjoy outdoor pursuits and it seemed to fit our personalities. We understand it is long and cumbersome to pronounce so we tend to just shorten it.

You said in one of the interviews  that you guys are not “tree huggers”, but are you at all interested in environmental issues?

Yes. The reason we said that was because sometimes there is a negative connotation attached to that term. We are all concerned with understanding our universe and living in a healthy balance with it. We may not be the most active or extreme when it comes to changing things but we are trying to improve ourselves and our world around us. Humans, as a whole need to understand that we need to work together with each other peacefully, globally and environmentally sound to improve our living conditions on this earth. It is disheartening to see the wasteful destruction of natural resources and wildlife as well as the gross juxtaposition of wealthy and poor. Global unity it the only way we can peacefully advance.

Congratulations on “Red Forest”. Is there anything that you would change or are you completely happy with your last release?

Thank you very much. We are very proud of our latest record. We strive for a very high level and continue to motivate ourselves to do better. I think we are happy with the way things turned out on this album. We had a lot of help and advice along the way that we are very grateful for. I’m not sure we would really change much but I think we will continue to grow our sound and record more as we progress creatively.

Did the recording process differ in any way, from the way that you recorded your previous releases?

This album was self-recorded at our own studio. This gave us the flexibility to do things just the way we wanted without having to be limited by tight time restraints. It made us feel more relaxed during the process which we enjoy.ed Our first album was also a self-recorded project but I feel that we have grown and learned much more on the engineering end of that process since then that has helped us to improve sonically. Our second album was recorded in a studio in our home-town of Akron. We had some great work done on that album and by no-means are we unsatisfied with it’s sound. We got along well with the engineer (Tim Gerak) on that album and he did great work. We just wanted to take more control over the process than in the past.

I’m looking forward to seeing you guys in Warsaw. What should I expect? Do you have any kind of visulas to your music, or your own lights, anything for the eye, or your shows are only about music?

We are also looking forward to the Warsaw show as well as all the others on our upcoming tour. It sounds as though there will be a healthy turnout in Warsaw and it always feels great to feed of the energy of a large very enthusiastic crowd. We are very gracious already to all the fans that will be coming to see us. Hopefully the night will be a high energy rock n’ roll show.
We periodically work with lighting to enhance our live performances, but we will unfortunately be unable to bring that aspect with us on this tour. Our drummer Zack and Guitarist Cody work in the video production field and we sometimes experiment with video with our music but we have not yet incorporated that into our live shows. The film Koyaanisqatsi is a favorite of ours (in fact we had it on a continuous loop in the studio while we recorded this album) and we would love to add the score to a film like that. Anyone out there wanna give it a go? Check out the great work by Shortt and Epic Productions about Tahoe (http://vimeo.com/33332693). We would love to work with them again. As I said before, Pink Floyd is a huge influence and we would love to do our own style of show with similar aspects. Lighting is just very expensive and complex to work with, but we would love to experiment with it if the opportunities present themselves.

When I spoke to God Is An Astronaut they said, that although they were using visuals at that time, they were thinking about getting rid of them, as they thought that they were distracting the viewers from the music. What are your views on that?

Everyone is different. I can understand their decision and respect each and everyone’s right to their own opinion. Without having used many visuals I cannot make a very good criticism. I think things can be done subtly without making an over-the-top production out of it. This is how we would like to use visuals. As with everything, there needs to be a balance.
Do you like playing gigs, or you like the musics creation process more than touring?
We enjoy both. As artists, the creation process is fulfilling because you are expressing yourself and showing your heart and soul to others. Live shows are great too because there is an energy that builds and is felt by all that is very exhilarating. Playing to people that truly enjoy our music and whom express that what we do has a positive impact upon their lives is a very fulfilling feeling.

Was at any time an option that you were considering adding vocals to your music?

I think we have kicked the idea of vocals around but only as a more ambient enhancement to the music. It would not be the forefront as with traditional bands and music artists. If there were a singer I would imagine they would not be a “lead man” upon which the focus is placed. I’m not sure that we would do that, because it may almost become another type of idea that we would explore as something other than the Trees. There are many great vocalists out there that it would be very fun to work on projects with.

You guys playing in any other bands, or ITTCT is your only band and do you make a living being musicians, or do you also have “”normal” jobs?

Zack and Mike have been working on a side project Mustache vs. Beard. Just a two piece, drum and guitar/bass. We all write, but not all of it gets recorded or used in the Trees. Continuously writing helps to progress your sound as well as stay focused on the creative process.
We have steadily been growing as a band but we are not fortunate enough yet to make music our only career. We all have jobs and all the responsibilities that come along with that to keep us out of poverty. It definitely makes growing larger and getting out on the road difficult. We would love to be able to make our band our career but we understand and have no false understanding that our style of music is not Pop and may never allow us to achieve that goal. We don’t expect more than what is reasonable. We are just happy to have gotten to where we are now and positively enhanced so many people’s lives.

Is there any message to your music, or anyone can make of it whatever he or she wants to, and it’s just music?

We like to allow each person to take what they will from our music. That is one of the great aspects of instrumental music. The listeners are not dictated to and are thus able to be involved in the creative process by being mentally stimulated by what we do. That being said, I think that we do have an underlying theme to our music and that would be “understanding and respect for the world we live in”. Knowledge is an incredibly powerful tool that no person should be deprived of.
You can take from that statement what you will.

What inspires you as musicians?

As I just said, the world we live in. Everything influences us. Thoughts, emotions, nature and humankind all affect our lives and in-turn our music.

Your music was used in a computer game promo. How did this happen and were you surprised when it did?

We were contacted by a third party that inquired about licensing a song. I’m actually not sure of how they found us other than that there may be a fan out there in that industry. It was a great honor to know that someone felt that what we do is worthy of that. It certainly helped with our exposure and for that we are gracious.

Does it bother you that you were given a post-rock label, because you used the term “post-whatever” to describe your music on Facebook.

We are not necessarily bothered by that. I think post-rock is a very broad description and not very well defined in all cases. We are glad to be grouped with other bands in that genre that we are inspired by and respect. We don’t really mind what our sound is classified as, we just hope that it is able to be given respect as artwork and a projection of ourselves.

What are you expecting from your visit in Poland?

We are keeping our expectations under control. I think it is important to remain humble let things happen naturally. Obviously we hope that this tour goes well and we are welcomed in each and every city we visit. We love to talk to fans and want them to know that we are accessible and not distant from the people we try to entertain. Poland has a great history and is a country that many people in the United States can trace their backgrounds to. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to learn about the Polish people and culture. We want to respect each and every person we meet and hopefully have a positive affect on their lives. We try to bring enjoyment to all even in times of stress and despair. We have an open invitation to all our fans to please come and say “hello” to us at our show.

Is there anything that you would like to say to our readers?

Thank you for the support and interest in what we do. We are gracious and humbled by the positive feedback we have received thus far. Please come and see one of our shows. We love to play our music and hope that it can enhance your life.
In addition, I think it is important to stress to people across the globe that humankind needs to work together peacefully to progress in this universe. We can positively move forward in history by being understanding, respectful and cooperative.
Tom Fihe,

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