Treehouse is a seven-person indie rock band that evolved out of the Uptown Music Collective and consists of current and former members of the music school. The group, which names The Beatles, Sigur Ros and Fleet Foxes as influences, will hold an album release party for its second recording, "Salt Upon the Stones," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
The band features Collin Dennen on vocals and bass; Michaela Dennen on keyboard and vocals; Alex Hines on bass, vocals and percussion; Jonah Walters on guitar; Evan Moffitt on guitar; Josh Hines on drums and vocals; and Jeff Mach on trumpet and percussion.
Recently, a few members of the group chatted with the Sun-Gazette via email about the group's new album and the upcoming performance at the CAC.
Treehouse will hold an album release party for its second recording, “Salt Upon the Stones,” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
MP: Where did the title of the album, "Salt Upon the Stones," come from?
COLLIN?DENNEN: It's a lyric from the song "Selfish." It just kind of sounded catchy to us. It also maps out how the songs develop, and how the album works as a whole. You have these songs that get really dense and massive and after it hits you, you're left with something quite simple. It's really just music about things we saw in our backyard or at the beach or in the woods. It's taking something really small like a grain of sea salt and tracing it back and blowing it up to its roots, the ocean. Or taking an acorn and imagining it ballooning and breaking and stretching itself into a tree. And doing that again, and again, and again.
MP: Did you use any famous albums as an example for the kind of sound you were going for?
DENNEN: We're all big fans of The Beatles. "Revolver" served as a compass for this album. We tried to mimic some of the sonic qualities of Sigur Ros's album "Takk." We were also trying to emulate some of the ideas from Fleet Foxes self-titled album "Gorilla Manor" by Local Natives, and "Mine is Yours" by Cold War Kids. Also, it would be silly of me not to mention that "Graceland" and "Rhythm of the Saints" by Paul Simon are a huge part of the songs on this album.
JONAH?WALTERS: There's a weirdo indie hip-hop group from Cincinnati called Why? that I was listening to a lot while we were working on this project. They make gorgeous recordings - expansive, complex, adventurous but also completely listenable, and with a sense of humor and a clear humility that I find really inspiring. I also love Paul Simon's records and The Band's first two albums. We also really dig jazz, and have studied jazz pretty intensely - particularly Collin, myself and Evan Moffitt - so I think the nuance and composure of recordings like Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and Esperanza Spalding's "Esperanza" were likely in our ears also.
MP: How did the recording sessions go?
DENNEN: The sessions at Creekside Studios were very rushed. We wanted to get everything recorded before we all went off to school but we didn't start recording until late July-early August. It was kind of crazy because this was our first time recording in a professional studio. I think with a lot of other musicians, the time constraint and the new experience could have made it a very stressful task, but we all stayed relaxed and just got it done to the best of our abilities.
WALTERS: We got really lucky in that we were essentially given free reign of Bob's beautiful studio last summer, and so we spent a lot of time exploring that space and trying to take advantage of everything he was offering us. That was kind of a curse, though, because we worked without a professional engineer and so a lot of what we did was pretty improvisatory. I ended up engineering about half the sessions myself, and the other half was done by our good friend Matt Schmol.
MP: Where was the album recorded?
ALEX HINES: The majority of the recording was done at Bob Yoas's Creekside Studios, but due to our perfectionist tendencies, we re-recorded some of the album in other locations.
DENNEN: We recorded some drums tracks and "Going to an Island" in our friend Colin Anderer's garage (referred to as Court'd'Anderer in the album notes). All the vocals for that song were recorded in my loft in Eagles Mere.
MP: How long did it take to record?
HINES: While we were recording, we recorded about every other day for a month before we went away to school. We returned home from school with a few other ideas in mind and spent another couple weeks recording and rerecording.
DENNEN: It ended up taking us a year all together.
MP: Do you guys share the creative duties? Who writes the lyrics?
DENNEN: Lyrically, it's usually one person. Usually, that person has the whole song already mapped out and ready to go. Then the band adds the details that make it a Treehouse song.
WALTERS: Typically, Collin brings new songs to the band, and they almost always come with a very clear vision for how he wants them to develop. Collin and I have been writing songs with one another since we were in middle school together, and it's super exciting to hear his new ideas and to try to understand how I can adapt my playing to his vision, or how the rest of the band can contribute as an ensemble.
MP: How are you releasing it (CD, MP3...?) Is it self-released?
DENNEN: We are self-releasing it as a CD and doing the whole MP3 gauntlet: iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby ... the works.
MP: How did the gig at the CAC come about?
WALTERS: Collin mentioned to me about a year ago that he wanted to see Treehouse on the stage of the Community Arts Center, but I don't think either of us really started considering it as a genuine possibility until this summer. Toward the beginning of May, while I was still in New York and working on booking gigs for the summer, I emailed Rob Steele and mentioned our interest in staging a show, and he was immediately really receptive to the idea.
He and I exchanged emails for a few weeks, and I actually brought Collin in on the conversation while I was studying in South Africa in June. I forwarded him the email thread as a kind of trans-continental fist bump. Like, "Yo, bro, look what I did. Careful what you wish for."