Thursday, July 19

Center Stage - Climbing Trees

We're so excited to introduce you to our newest Center Stage band, and recent runner up in Radio Airplay's Summer Song Contest, Climbing Trees

The BBC Introducing favourites have made numerous television, radio and festival appearances over the past few years, as well as recording a live session at London's iconic Maida Vale Studios and performing with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.  

Alongside soundtracking the BBC's Real Valleys season and appearing in American documentary Fade To Winter, 2015 saw work begin on the eagerly-awaited and much-anticipated follow-up to 2013 debut record HEBRON before a string of dates in support of lead single GRAVES, a track which also featured on the Reach Out: Welsh Rock For Refugees compilation alongside Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals. 

Following the success of further singles TRACKS, AMBER and LOST, which gained airplay from the likes of Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music's Tom Robinson, the Trees released second album BORDERS through Staylittle Music in the Summer of 2016 to rave reviews and a spot on the Welsh Music Prize shortlist. 

With the limited edition coloured vinyl release of Borders' fifth and final single FALL sandwiched between live appearances in the UK, Europe and US during 2017, the band have spent the majority of 2018 holed away developing their various solo and side-projects, whilst the seeds of an eventual third album begin to grow.

We enjoyed catching up with Matthew and the rest of the band. Get to know them for yourselves in this latest Q&A feature! 

Can you describe your sound in one ramble-on sentence?
Welsh four-piece CLIMBING TREES blend multi-instrumentalism with pin-point harmonies to create their distinctive Cymrucana sound.  That’s straight from our press release.  ‘Cymrucana’ is Welsh Americana, by the way, just in case you were wondering.

What's your earliest music-related memory growing up?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but my earliest memory is of dancing around in my underpants munching jam sandwiches at the age of about two while listening to The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and wondering how music could be made by a big black spinning circle...

If you were to cover another band/artist's album, which would you pick and why?
That’s a great question!  And a really difficult one to answer, as we’re each into a lot of different artists and styles.  So perhaps we’d cover one of our own albums in a completely different style and release it under a pseudonym.  In fact, that’s a really good idea.  You heard it here first.
Do you write/compose your own songs? Briefly describe your songwriting process.
There are actually three primary songwriters in the band, and three lead vocalists as a result.  One of us will usually approach the rest with a half-formed (or sometimes fully-formed) song, and then, together with the rest of the band, we’ll start tweaking the structure, adding the arrangement, harmonies and so on until it becomes the finished article.  So although the seed of an idea usually comes from just one member, it’s very much a collaborative process to get to that eventual end point.  We’ve also got a fair few instrumental tracks across both of our albums, which are probably the best example of us working collectively as a band.  These have tended to develop organically, usually when jamming in between actual songs, which I’ve always found to be the most enjoyable part of rehearsing!
What was the highlight for you in 2017? Either personally or for your music career?
2017 was probably our most productive year yet.  We kicked off with our first European show out in the Netherlands, released our final couple of singles from our second album Borders either side of a jam-packed UK festival season, then played our first US shows in the Autumn followed by a sold out hometown Christmas show, which rounded things off nicely!
What have you been working on recently? Can you give us a hint for what’s to come in 2018?
We’re actually taking a few months off playing live as a band at the moment.  It’s been a pretty hectic few years of writing, releasing, touring etc., so we’re taking a step back to focus on our various solo and side projects.  It’s definitely important for us to have a little bit of ‘downtime’ in between album cycles, and to do different things independently before reconvening hopefully later in the year to start writing the third album.  That said, we've just put out ourBorders Acoustic B Sides EP to keep things ticking over while we’re lying low, which has been received really positively, and as a little four-track teaser it’s left people demanding more new music from us, which can only be a good thing.
What do you like more: Performing live or recording in the studio?
There’s definitely a different sense of satisfaction with each.  Some musicians love performing live but hate the studio, and vice versa.  Personally, I get a real kick out of both.  Nothing beats the instant reaction you get from a live crowd within the moment, but at the same time, it’s a great feeling to walk into a studio with just a few ideas floating around in your head, and then to come out at the end of the session with a fully-fledged record of those ideas, an almost-complete version of something that perhaps didn’t really exist a few hours previously.  So it’s a tie, for me.  I love them both, for different reasons!

What are some artists/bands that you're into at the moment? Or any particular song you find yourself listening to over and over?
The last gig we went to as a band was Mogwai at Colston Hall in Bristol, England, back in the Spring.  We’ve listened to them a lot in the van on our travels, but seeing them live was a completely different and much more powerful experience.  So much so that we’re off to see them again in Cardiff in the Autumn!

Any embarrassing on stage moments you'd like to share? C’mon, don’t be shy.
I’m racking my brains here, but I genuinely can’t think of anything embarrassing that’s happened to us on stage!  Obviously we’re just ultra professional, and nothing ever goes wrong.  We’ve played shows to about six people when we were starting out, but that’s more deflating than embarrassing...

What's one thing people should know about you?
We’re one-quarter vegan, two-quarters vegetarian and one-quarter carnivore. The drummer is the carnivore.  I once saw him use pork as a spoon...

What do you enjoy doing outside of music? Does your hobby rejuvenate your creativity?
We’ve mainly been playing football and tennis over the last few months rather than making music!  We try to spend time together socially outside of ‘the band’ – we were friends before we became bandmates, and it’s important to have that solid base rather than just being a bunch of guys who turn up to rehearsals and gigs and don’t really spend much time with one another outside of that bubble.  

What do you like the most about Radio Airplay?
I think the ability for us to reach music lovers right across the world within a few clicks of a button is such a mesmerising thing, and something we shouldn’t take for granted.  We’ve definitely picked up a lot of new international fans through Radio Airplay and Jango, and that wouldn’t have been possible for an independent band such as ourselves even as little as twenty years ago, and for that we are eternally grateful!