The Treelines

The Treelines - August 2013

The Treelines Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: April 17, 2013
Posting Date: August 13, 2013
Artist Hometown: Denton, TX
Links: Facebook, Bandcamp
Recorded by: Michael Briggs @ Civil

Baby’s Gone
Lay Me Down
ONE: How did The Treelines start?
Tony Ferraro: Amanda writes kick-ass songs. That’s how the band started. From what I know, Ryan and Amanda did a lot of four-track stuff a couple years ago, and Amanda’s just always been writing, so Grady…In my head, it was Grady’s idea to start the band.
Grady Don Sandlin: Was it?
Tony: I just– I don’t know. That’s the origin story in my brain. You were the first person that I remember mentioning it.
Ryan Thomas Becker: Actually, I don’t remember who wanted to start the band.
Grady: Why don’t we just…I have this…for probably about five years, I’ve had this dream of being a backing band for people, where it’s not just…a bunch of different bands, and people end up in bands for whatever reason, like, ‘I just know a guy who has a guitar,’ or whatever. A lot of the things that I read about and like, there are scenes in the 60’s such as Stax, Motown, the Wrecking Crew— and I’m not trying to compare myself or any of us to those musicians, but where there’s a crew or a group of musicians who are the backing band for whoever comes along. And Amanda…I knew she was writing songs because I used to live with Ryan, and Amanda would sleep over at our house a lot, and I would listen to her songs and stuff, and she would only ever play the songs for me when she was drunk. They would work on stuff in secret, and then when she would get drunk she’d be like, ‘Showw Grady the s-oongs…’ And we’d listen to her songs, and they were really cool. And then they did a band called The Rymandas, and they didn’t ask me to join, or I wasn’t available.
Ryan: Because you weren’t a Ryan or an Amanda! It was made up of two Ryans and two Amandas. The Rymandas.
Grady: I could have changed it.
Amanda Newton: We asked to borrow your drumkit.
Grady: Well, I was the drum tech.
Tony: You had an emotional investment.
Ryan: So, it all started with Amanda’s songs and…I mean, you don’t play an instrument regularly. I know you played one in high school, but you…
Amanda: [Laughs]
Ryan: What?
Tony: What instrument?
Ryan: Bassoon.
Tony: Bassoon? Bad ass.
Ryan: But you had these ideas, and we would work on them, kind of…flesh them out and make up the progressions and the chord changes, and we recorded a little bit with Amanda and Ryan—
Grady: Ryan Williams, of Every Other Band fame.
Amanda: He’s actually really angry that he’s not in this band. Every time I see him he looks very hurt.
Grady: He’s in those other bands.
Tony: Those other bands keep him very happy, I’m sure.
DJ: Amanda, if you don’t play an instrument, how do you go about writing songs?
Tony: She writes the melody and the lyrics.
Ryan: Tony!
Tony: [poking Amanda] You answer the question!
Amanda: You say the words, I’ll move my mouth.
Grady: Take Two in 3…2…1, go!
Amanda: I write the lyrics and the melody!!
DJ: How do you do that? Do you record yourself singing and play it back, or do you just carry it around in your head, or…
Amanda: Um…yes. Both ways.
Tony: Both ways have worked. She usually has it— She’ll sing it to us, she sings it to Ryan, and he’ll come up with music, or she’ll sing it to me and I’ll come up with music.
Amanda: And I’ll say, ‘No, I don’t like that.’
Ryan: There is a lot of that.
Tony: Yeah, we try a lot of things.
Ryan: She has a very specific idea for sure, and we kind of put in our two cents until our two centses make sense.
Grady: So, you write a song with a guitar or something, and a melody and words, just take the guitar out. She has a melody and a lyric idea in mind, and then she brings it to one of them— not me. I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d be like, ‘Whoa, I’ve got a drum beat for this! It’ll be great! Just drums and vocals!’
Tony: A snare hit on every line of the melody.
Grady: So, same deal. You’re trying to translate that idea into a band, right? So, I think the same thing happens, except she doesn’t come with chords necessarily in mind. I think these guys are trying to put chords underneath it and it can be right or wrong, depending on what she’s thinking.
Tony: We usually try a lot of things before it gets there, and then…we get there. We usually still try to change it a bit here and there.
Amanda: Eventually I like it.
Tony: Eventually she’s satiated.
TWO: You have an EP and a single out. Do you have any plans for a full-length?
Grady: Well, shit, I really hadn’t considered it. I hadn’t thought of it.
Tony: I don’t know.
Amanda: Are we still going to play shows?
Grady: Yeah.
Amanda: Oh, okay.
Grady: We don’t have plans to. I think it would be…Obviously, we want to stay active, I guess, because we released an EP in March and then a single, completely unrelated, in April, so…
Amanda: I’ve actually never talked to anyone in this band about doing a full-length before.
Ryan: I’d love to. Yeah, we don’t have any plans— We like the idea of doing singles, like A-side B-side stuff. That’s a lot of fun. But, we have the songs and the technology.
Grady: Both of the things so far have been a bit different in approach. Like, the EP we did on 4-track cassette—
Ryan: Mono.
Grady: And then I mixed it on the computer, and then we did the single thing.
Ryan: And released it as a vinyl 7″.
Grady: So, I don’t know what we will decide on if we do decide…probably we need to do a record.
Ryan: It will be something different from an EP or a single, whatever the other thing is that we do.
THREE: Your songs seem to have been influenced by early 60’s pop and country music. What do you find attractive about that era of music?
Amanda: I really like 50’s girl groups and I also like Dolly Parton…
Grady: She’s a girl.
Tony: A sexy girl. I also like all of that.
Amanda: But she’s a single person. She’s not a group…but she did write songs. Anyway, whatever. Yeah, I like that kind of music, so…I tend to write kind of like that. Or, I sometimes do.
Tony: Yeah, I grew up on that kind of music, too. That’s the era my dad grew up in so that’s what I was shown as a child, and that’s what’s lodged in my brain. I’ve always wanted to be in a band like this. I’ve always liked songs like this.
Ryan: My dad grew up in the 90’s, so I like 90’s music, because he liked 90’s music. I like 90’s music.
Tony: How do you feel about the Goo Goo Dolls?
Ryan: They’re great.
Grady: My dad never grew up. To me, the late 50’s and early 60’s is my favorite moment of popular music that I know of. I’m glad you mentioned country, because I think of really good rock n’ roll as a kind of country music. I love pop music from that time. That’s it for me.
Tony: That’s the golden age of pop music, for sure.
Grady: If i could produce records or drum on records that sound like those…I could do that forever. I’m lame, right?
Ryan: And when we were recording the EP, that’s when we were going on the 4-track, and I think that we were trying to reach for that aesthetic. A bit. I don’t know, we thought it would kind of help with the sound we were going for.
Grady: Limiting ourselves a little bit.
Tony: Working with few variables and seeing what we could make out of that.
Amanda: I like simple things.
Grady: To paraphrase John Hartford, he said that style is based on limitations. So, the 4-track is a very simple thing. Trying to use one microphone per track, or maybe a couple.
Ryan: There were a couple of tunes where we didn’t use all four tracks.
Amanda: There were some where you guys just played together, and then I did vocals.
Tony: Most of them were just live band onto one track and then vocals.
Amanda: The good thing about recording with them is that because they usually lay it down the first time, and then they can go have beers or watch the game while I’m in there doing it 75 times until I’m like, ‘That one doesn’t sound like crap. Let’s keep that one.’
Grady: It didn’t sound like crap, either. She was right.
– Interview and transcription by Dale Jones.