Interview: Tree No Leaves Discusses ‘Sacred Natives’ EP

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Tree No Leaves ‘Sacred Natives’ EP (Cover Art By: Will Santino)

This week LIVE EYE TV caught up with the Ohio psych band Tree No Leaves. The four-piece currently operates out of Toledo and features founding member Dustin Galish on vocals/keys, Calvin Cordy on lead guitar/organ, Benji Katz on bass, and Adam Rice on drums. The band’s newest EP Sacred Natives came out this month, and is currently available for FREE via the Tree No Leaves Bandcamp page. In addition to the release, they also have a brand new video for one of the EP’s standout tracks, “Lucy & The Fuzz,” which you’ll find below. The band’s Dustin Galish took some time to answer our questions about his longstanding project, including a brief synopsis of how they arrived at their current line-up, as well as discussing their recent effort, Sacred Natives

LETV: Thanks for taking some time to answer questions about Tree No Leaves. Looks like the band has been at it for awhile now and during that time you’ve put out a number of EPs, LPs, singles and live recordings. You’ve also undergone a number of line-up changes during that time. Can you give us a brief synopsis of how the project first came together and how you arrived at the current line-up?

DG: Tree No Leaves has certainly evolved, changed, and adapted to its surroundings over the years. By that I mean the music has had various members and approaches. I initially started the band as a duo writing instrumental compositions that were manly ambient guitar work and piano/organ. It then progressed into a post rock/progressive 3 piece, and lastly has now found its home as a 4 piece that dabbles in psychedelic rock and progressive soul sounds. One thing that has stayed current in the music are elements of improvisation and some non-traditional approaches to song writing.

LETV: While the band’s sound has evolved since your early recordings like A Sorta Story and Ghost Alien God there’s always been a dedication to psychedelic, blues-oriented music. Can you talk a bit about your sonic aesthetic and some of the bands that have influenced your sound?

DG: It’s hard not to be influenced by the blues and specifically a lot of the blues that were coming out of England in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Doors. The same can be said of the psychedelic sounds that were coming out of many parts of the world during the same time. The Beatles, CAN, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead. There are also modern bands like Tool, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Dopapod that we pull a lot of influence from as well. Our sonic aesthetic is trying to blend the old and the new to create timeless music.

LETV: You guys released a new EP this month called Sacred Natives. Can you take us behind the scenes into your creative process? I’d like to know a bit more about how the songs are written and recorded. Is the writing a group project or more individual?

DG: In the past, much, if not all of the music was written by myself. My process was rooted in creating loops and rough ideas that I would bring to the band as potential songs. This produced a handful of records and for me was a great way to write, but as the band progressed I started to hit a point of needing to collaborate. Our record Skinwalkers was the first time that the band brought in another song writer, specifically our lead guitarist Calvin Cordy. Calvin came up with a great progression for our song “Little Child”. This opened up a world for the band of not depending on just myself to write material. This creative approach is what got us to Sacred Natives. This is by far the most collaborative record that we have made and included input from all 4 members of the band. Calvin handled writing progressions and riffs, Adam our drummer worked out compositions, I handled all the lyrics and themes for the record, and our bass player Benji took the demos that we wrote to another level. We are looking to approach our new batch of songs with the same approach.

LETV: Besides your sonic influences, I’m curious to know about some of the things outside of music that drive Tree No Leaves aesthetic direction. It seems like nature (the state of the natural world) as well as social issues and politics motivate your creative output. Am I reading too far into things?

DG: Certainly leaving some mystery about the band is always nice but things that drive our aesthetic are the unstoppable flow of time, entropy, death, life, love, sex, drugs, politics, nature, how we perceive these things and how they affect our perception.

LETV: Lot’s of great artwork on these releases–especially the cover for Sacred Natives. What can you tell us about the artist that designed this cover and how it fits your vision of the new record?

DG: Will Santino is an amazing artist who has worked with the band in various projects over the years. The band has always seen the artwork that accompanies a release is integral to helping set a theme and a world to experience the music in. Will Santino has always been able to create a world that our music feels at home with and with this record we feel no different. Make sure to check out Will Santino Illustrations online.

LETV: What’s next for Tree No Leaves? Will you guys be touring or playing out this summer? Any plans to record new material?

DG: We are currently putting together a tour for this summer, creating a unique limited run of vinyl with “live” material from our Inaugural Tree Fest performance,working on new material for our full length that we are looking to have done by the end of 2017, and lastly creating some unique videos to release over the next few weeks. There’s always more to do and experience with Tree No Leaves and 2017 should be a busy one for us.

Watch Tree No Leaves “Lucy & The Fuzz” Video

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