East Coast Reggae Jam Rock band, TreeHouse! formed in 2010 in Myrtle Beach, SC, with members, Jeremy Anderson on vocals and guitar, Matt Link on bass, and Trey Moody on drums. TreeHouse! spearheaded its own original local following in the area until the band was performing special events with some of the biggest acts in their genre at venues such as House of Blues.
Reggae Jam Rock trio, TreeHouse! explores new depths of rhythms, themes and other elements in their third studio album, Lifted, released March 10th, 2015. The album was recorded and mixed in Charleston, SC, by Wolfgang Zimmerman and was mastered by Jason “Jocko” Randall at More Sound Studio in Syracuse, NY. Jocko is an internationally acclaimed sound engineer who has worked with Easy Star Records, John Brown’s Body, Aqueous, Jimkata, and more.
The Myrtle Beach, South Carolina based band is set to tour most 2015 throughout the East Coast, Mid-Atlantic, and the USVI from January to November in support of the new album. These road warriors perform hundreds of shows a year and intend to keep this pace strong for the new release. In a recent interview the band spilt the beans on current goings on and inside details on their latest album – “Lifted”.
- Lifted is your 3rd self released album. How is this album different from your previous albums?
“Lifted” gave us a more experienced approach to recording. We used the same studio and engineer that we had for our last album, “Growth” so we were even more comfortable with the process, and we went in with an eager anticipation to use what we had learned during the making of “Growth” and apply it exponentially on “Lifted”. We focused even more on textures, layers, and soundscapes, adding saxophone, keys, percussion, didgeridoo, and group vocals for a more enveloping effect. I think the new album is a wider range of styles and a good example of our cohesive versatility, our ability to venture through new sonic dimensions, together on the same frequency.
- Lifted was mastered by Jason “Jocko” Randall who has worked with Easy Star Records and notable others. How did this come about?
Jocko is a friend of our drummer, Trey’s girlfriend Veronica. She knows him from living in upstate NY and has mentioned us to him several times in the past few years. When we started this project, she strongly suggested that we link with him. We checked out his impressive portfolio, especially as the producer for one of our favorite bands, John Brown’s Body. I reached out to Jocko to ask about mastering and he was so down to earth, we knew this was the start of a good relationship. The recording process was very similar between “Growth” and “Lifted” but the main difference is Jocko’s mastering of “Lifted” which makes this album shine so much brighter! We are very encouraged by this and plan to continue working with Jocko on future projects.
- Who and what were your biggest influences for this album?
Slightly Stoopid has often been a compass for us, with their range of styles, but we’ve definitely taken from the general atmosphere of our Reggae genre and our personal experiences. One inspiration in writing this album was the drive to provide something positive and valuable for our fans. These songs are meant to give relief, joy, excitement, ease, communion, and enlightenment. We went from a full, expressive weekend at Mantrabash Music Festival in North Carolina straight into the studio, so we already had a “lifted” vibe set for the recording sessions.
- What are your favorite songs from the Lifted album and Why?
Off the top of my head, I would say my favorite tunes are:
“Look into the Stars (ft. Zach Fowler)” – This is the single on the new album and the latest collaboration with our brother Zach Fowler from Sun-Dried Vibes. This one always catches my ear at first with the bangin’ saxophone line provided by SaxitList.com’s Jason Hazinski, a simple little hook that definitely makes the song. The imagery and metaphor in the lyrics represents some of our more meaningful themes. I think the message of this song is important for everyone to hear: Our world today thinks “greed” and “apathy” are simply part of human nature, but I believe it is a mental illness that spread over humanity so long ago, that we can no longer distinguish it as separate from our beings, and it now uses us to perpetuate itself to others, and this is the world we live in today, ruled by those sick with greed and apathy for their fellow beings. It is important to realize this if we are ever to overcome it. “But they don’t wanna hear what we say, don’t really care if the number has a name, so the virus becomes a plague. Now the plague is the one who runs this game.”
“Guru” – This song uplifts me with a simple message to reflect upon – “You are a Guru”. I believe this song is empowering to the soul, and I can often see it in our audience’s eyes. No one has ever told them before in their entire lives that they are a Guru. I believe everyone is a Guru at heart, either for themselves or for others. I think it is important for one to acknowledge this concept and possibility within themselves before they can ever actually access this power within. It emphasizes the idea that everyone is both a student and a teacher in this world, to themselves and to all others, that no authority is the sole authority on existence and that we each have a responsibility to contribute our spirit’s knowledge to the collective consciousness through this physical realm.
The theme of this song is sonically well represented through sitar, didgeridoo, throat singing, alternative rhythm, and layers of harmony, giving a slight Eastern effect to add to the Guru theme, which makes this song quite unique amongst the rest of the album.
“Mellow” – Mellow is somewhat our response to our exposure in the jam band scene, going across the board with variating rhythms, jamming solos, and changes in time signature and musical keys. Mellow is fun to perform and was fun to record because it is a roller coaster ride of energy, from moving and grooving, to light and chill, only to bump it up at the end. This one again featured Jason Hazinski tearing it up on saxophone, along with some of my proudest guitar solos, as well as several of our friends performing group karate! So this song, with its carefree vibe, simply tickles and amuses me.
“Babylon Pressure” – A close 2nd when I’m feeling rootsy, gotta love that deep Rasta vibe!
- How does playing this album live differ from the studio version?
We are a live band at heart, simply out of the experience of jamming together 300 days a year for the past 5 years! So in the studio, we capture our best sound when we approach it live and keep that energy in it. So instead of recording an album and basing our live show off of that, we develop our live show and base our album on that. “LIFTED” is possibly the closest representation of our live show so far. For the first week of our album release tour, we actually had our keyboardist, percussionist, saxophonist, and our brother Zach Fowler on guitar and vocals all jamming with us, 7-piece style, so it was almost an exact recreation of the album every night! We are now back to our 3-piece for most of the tour, and we compensate simply by generating more energy and filling more sound. The live show will always be our forte and will always be more of an experience for the listener, because it is fully involving and encompassing, audibly, visually, and energetically. We vibe off the energy of our audience, we take it, amplify it, and send it back to them to create a closed circuit exponential energy bubble that is incommunicable to those outside of the bubble. So to put it short, you will have to experience a live show for yourself!
6. Lifted was crowd-funded through a Pledge Music campaign. Were you ever afraid that it wouldn’t reach its goal?
We had the slightest anxiety in this approach, but it ultimately translated into a higher ambition to succeed. We’ve always had faith in our fans because they constantly show us how passionate they are about what we do, and we had no doubt that they would come through for us. We were still humbly surprised at the amount of our friends and fans who came out of the woodwork and gave above and beyond. A few friends we haven’t seen in years ended up funding a fourth of this project! People everywhere from Oregon to Rhode Island helped us. Our fans often give us words of encouragement, and they help us in any way they can to continue our mission. They honestly spared us the hard decision between recording an album and feeding ourselves! We are eternally grateful for this, and all we can do in return is continue to do the best that we can in our endeavors.
- What is the overall message you are trying to convey with this album?
The message of this album is best portrayed in the simple words inside the cover: Love. Peace. Gratitude. Compassion. Positivity. Awareness. Empowerment. Awakening. Enlightenment. Our endeavor is whatever we can do to realize and actualize these concepts within this world.
- You have collaborated with Zach Fowler from the band Sun-Dried Vibes on songs from your last two albums. Should we expect more collaborations in the future?
Absolutely. Amongst all our brother bands in this genre, we consider Sun-Dried Vibes our twin-brother band. They were one of the first bands we linked with when we started touring, one of the only other South Carolina Reggae Rock bands besides us, and another 3-piece group of like-minded people. We have toured together so much that we inevitably started jamming and writing songs together. At festivals and off-days on tours, Zach helped me write “Young One” and “Look into the Stars”. I helped him write “Human Condition” and I performed trumpet on their songs “Irie Vibes” and “Like it Like That”. We are both already working on new songs with each other for our next albums, and our collaborations often turn out as our best projects. Everyone tells us we both sound better with the other, so now, we jam together so often that people confuse us for each other’s bands, kinda like identical twins, and we don’t mind because we know if they find Sun-Dried Vibes, they will inevitably find TreeHouse!, and vice versa. So when we tour together, we are virtually two-halves of one 6-piece band!
- You have used the term “Brother Bands” to describe some of the bands that you play with. Can you explain what this means?
We use the term “Brother Band” for any band with which we frequently work and vibe together. We often only work with other bands who work as hard as us, so our Brother Bands are those on the same long path. We use this term to indicate the Family vibe and cohesiveness of our scene of mostly East Coast Reggae Rock bands, with the idea that we can all do more together than we can alone. We have a nice community building around this idea. We are still waiting for a good “Sister Band”! The Family-Community Vibe is one of the most important messages we can portray in the ultimate endeavor of Unity and One Love.
- You are touring extensively behind this album. How is this tour different than every tour?
This album release tour is our launch pad. It is our most expansive tour yet, ranging from Florida and the Virgin Islands all the way to Vermont and Ohio! We are solidifying our business model and building upon it properly. It has taken us a long time to figure out how to tour most efficiently, and we are still learning more every day. But for this round, we are applying all our experience that has gotten us this far and focusing on our long-term goals and what we have to do to get there.
- You tour the East Coast a good bit. Do you plan to tour the West Coast anytime soon?
Since we began, so many people said “you have to go to Colorado and California.” But we have never had an urge to jet across the country when there is so much opportunity for us to build the East Coast. I think it is our responsibility to build over here what the West Coast Reggae Rock bands have built over there. There is still a reason why Pepper, Fortunate Youth, Stick Figure, and so many other West Coast bands still tour over to the East Coast, because there IS a scene that has to be unlocked by us regional bands to really blow it up. I believe we are taking the right steps to logistically build our presence across the East Coast, so that our name, our reputation, and our music flood the West Coast before we even get there. That’s why we are hitting the East Coast so hard this year so that we lay the foundation to hit the West Coast in Spring of 2016 because, once we hit it, we plan to continue to hit it indefinitely. It will then be time!
- You have shared the stage with bands like The Wailers, SOJA, The Movement, and 311. Which has been your favorite and why?
In my experience, the biggest bands are the least personally accessible. 311 and SOJA have toured so much for so long that I don’t expect them to subject themselves to random people’s rants every night before and after they play. At this point, I basically respect their right to privacy and I realize that I would be the thousandth person to say anything to them, so it’s essentially pointless until we are co-headlining with them. Regardless of this, the experience of sharing the stage with these bands has been phenomenal. Several members of SOJA are still very personable and approachable, which is quite encouraging. The Wailers and The Movement have been great times! We personally know them and have hung out in the same green room, sharing smoke sessions. The Movement had us on for one of the first sold-out shows we ever played in Charleston SC, so these guys mean a lot to us, and their continued success inspires us as their friends. We’ve had other great down-to-earth moments with Passafire, Fortunate Youth, Stick Figure, Stranger Band, and Pepper.
- Who do you hope to share the stage with in the future?
Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution, The Black Seeds, John Brown’s Body, Michael Franti, Steel Pulse again, Midnight, Inner Circle, The Green, Ky-Mani Marley, Damian Marley, any of the Marleys! We also want to expand more into the jam band scene.
- When not touring, what do you like to do in your free time?
We tour at least 20 days a month, over 240 days a year, so throughout the year, we often have, at most, only one week off at a time. So we honestly become recluses, go into hibernation mode, and regenerate for the next run! We experience so much on the road in going with the flow, by necessity, that when we come home and have the choice to sleep in our own beds and just lounge around the house, it is refreshing! I personally like to spend time with my family and maybe catch up on some Netflix, outside of writing new music and planning our next moves.
- Since 2010, Jeremy has been handling all the business aspects of the band. Has this changed?
I did start as CEO of our company TreeHouse Music LLC. and I am still currently managing the band, as well as some booking and promoting. My sister, Jenny, has also helped us tremendously since our beginning, with legal advice, press, and business tips, to the extent that I would be proud to call her our co-manager. We have started transitioning with a booking agency (American Music Corporation) and publicist (FlipSwitchPR) to take some of the work load off my back and to expand into new markets. These agencies are now booking and promoting us across the nation. We are also shopping for the right management company when the opportunity fits. As our booking agent likes to say, we are about to “make the leap” into the next tier, and I like this idea!
- What challenges as an independent band do you still face?
Finding, navigating, and managing all the right channels and outlets to reach potential fans and to maintain active relationships with our audience. Properly balancing our current priorities with all potential opportunities, to grow even more. It is kinda weird, but if we are ideally succeeding, then all the venues where we started, with which we have developed personal relationships, will soon no longer be able to accommodate us. We can never do the exact same things each year or we are not growing.
- What aspects of this business keep you going? What is the thing that makes you get up in the morning and do it all over again?
I have found my own form of conscious meditation on my path to enlightenment. Just as the monk sweeps the floor, I make my business and my chores into my own therapy. I drive long hours, I carry heavy equipment, and I fully exert myself every night, but I see these experiences as training and growth, and I find peace and joy in them before we even get on stage for the fun part. The live show itself heals me every night. I write these songs, to some extent, for my own sake. If I am to sing this song every night, I try to make it beneficial for my own being and implant within it a message that I may need to hear, myself, for reassurance in my journey. Whenever we are feeling overwhelmed with our path, someone comes like a messenger from the universe and feels the need to express how much we’ve affected their life for the better, just by doing what we do. That’s what always keeps us going.
- What is the most helpful advice you have been given about the music business?
Fake it ’til you make it! You have to dress like a professional before you can be a professional. In this day and age, you can Google or Youtube anything. I spent the first two years Googling the simplest questions – “How do you book a gig” “Booking email template” “How do you make a press kit” “How do you promote a show” “how do you get a record deal” etc etc. It’s great to absorb the knowledge from all the people who have been there before and burnt so much time on trial and error. Figure out the most efficient system first and you will save much time and money and grow by leaps and bounds. Also, “work smarter, not harder” I am still working on this!
- If you could go back to 2010 when you were starting out and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Trademark your name right now! If you think of something, someone else across the world just thought of it too. Don’t jeopardize all the work you put into your brand name, because if you end up having to change your name, then none of the work you have done will transfer over. You have to virtually start back from scratch. Also, figure out the best cities for your genre, fan reception, opportunities, and logistics. Don’t waste your time touring to pointless places to either play for nothing or perform to no one. Only tour to places that are worth returning to build every 6-8 weeks. Save up money for a publicist, promote your shows properly.
- What opportunities do you have on the horizon?
This year, we are excited to perform Montauk Music Festival on Long Island NY; Bless the Woods Fest in Fairplay, MD; Ziontific Music Festival in Stockbridge, VT; Irie Vibes Music Festival in SC; Camp Barefoot in Bartow, WV; and definitely Cali Roots Carolina Sessions in Myrtle Beach, SC! We are also already writing several songs for our next album, so we are considering recording up north in the Fall. We’re also excited to link with amazing bands like: Sun-Dried Vibes, Spiritual Rez, Resinated, Stick Figure, Jahman Brahman, Signal Fire, The Movement, Oogee Wawa, Cheezy and the Crackers, Dale and the Zdubs, Roots of a Rebellion, and so many more.
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