After featuring them as the Set 4 Score in our Trees episode we spoke with The Treetops out of Lakeland, Florida to discuss some of the artists and songs that influenced them throughout their music career. Listen to the playlist and read The Treetop’s reasoning behind each influence below!
FMF: The Mamas & The Papas are one of a few harmony-laden groups chosen as influences to you. Do any of you have a professional training background or do you play and sing whatever feels right?
Ashley Kennedy: “I’ve been singing since I was as little as 2, swinging from a swing strung to a tree in West Virginia belting out Lion King songs. I grew up with my mom singing with me. She’s a singer and musician currently teaching elementary music. It’s kind of funny. She would always try to harmonize with me and I hated it. I’d put my finger to my lips and “SHH” her every time. I appreciate it so much now. I was in chorus throughout school and harmonizing came super easy to me. Still does! Thanks, mom. Creating and being a part of harmony is an aspect of being in the band I enjoy a lot. We all have an ear for it, of course. Otherwise, it wouldn’t work – teamwork makes the dream work, baby!”
FMF: Pearl & The Oysters are a relatively new and unknown band, how did you discover them?
Steven Miller: “I try to keep tabs on local Florida bands and saw a post on Instagram about them. I love synth pop, and the organs and DIY production is so fun to listen to. They are high on my wish list of bands to play with.”
FMF: A James Brown deep cut; what of James’ soul music brings inspiration to you?
Jake Kladakis: “The funk, man! Gotta get funky. His attitude, energy, and the band cut through still to this day.”
FMF: Just three years after Transformer, Lou Reed released Metal Machine Music. Do you ever see the band making that type of drastic change?
Jake Kladakis: “Probably not THAT drastic, but yeah! We’re always experimenting with new sounds and pumping out the jams.”
FMF: Another dancing bassline in the playlist; ELO brings a disco side to things. What draws you to Jeff Lynne’s style?
Andrew Sears: “ELO’s catchy pop songs and self-produced recordings can’t help but inspire us to come up with original hits like Lynne’s. ELO deserves way more credit than they get!”
FMF: Salad Days helped bring lo-fi/slacker rock back into the limelight. What do you think draws people to that sound these days?
Andrew Sears: “Simple songwriting and the DIY attitude along with catchy hooks and chorus is what draws me to Mac. Anyone can pick up his songs and start playing which can be very influential to songwriting. Our songs “Sun And The Moon” as well as “Look On The Bright Side” were heavily influenced by Demarco.”
FMF: Great choice with “Whipping Post”. I’ve yet to see The Treetops perform live. Have you guys ever broken into a 20-minute jam session like The Allman Brothers were famous for?
Ashley Kennedy: “Hell yeah. And it’s awesome! To essentially improvise in front of an audience is super fun. I mean, it definitely depends on the venue. You have the more structured sets that need to be 30 minutes SHARP. But then there have been places that gave us this giant window of play time that we took full advantage of.”
FMF: Soul seems to be a shared interest for the band. Any plans on adding horns to the mix at some point?
Steven Miller: “We actually have a trumpet, Alto saxophone, and a trombone. We have some stuff we wrote for the new album that we are trying to put in that ranges from soul to big band horns….well we are gonna try.”
FMF: Love It To Death influenced quite the handful of punk rockers; from Joey Ramone and Johnny Rotten writing songs based off “I’m Eighteen” and Pat Smear picking up a guitar the day he heard the album. What about that sound do you bring to The Treetops? Also, do any of you own the “thumb cover” version of the LP?
Steven Miller: “We all love that early 70’s rock sound with the towering stacks and the crunchy guitar tone. What we bring from that is that we understand how those cats got that sound. They didn’t have that pedal that did it. It was tubes, circuitry and a Gibson! We try to keep our tones simple and use as little pedals when we can. When we play live though it’s easy to see that we love to rock out same as those cats. When we end our shows we are drenched in sweat and that’s how we like it.”
FMF: Electric Warrior belongs in the 21st century. Do you pull from Marc Bolan’s minimalist recording techniques here? Also, have you ever heard “Mambo Sun” next to The Black Keys’ “Everlasting Light”?
Steven Miller: “Recording is really important to us. Andrew just graduated as an electrical engineer and he has done wonders on our album with just an 8 track Tascam 388 and some good preamps and mics. We start with drum and guitar and just go from there. Recording is simple as we are just trying to put out music that we can re-create live. We have studio songs for when we want to go crazy with all the tracks we have. And with our next album we’ll be living together so we can really spend time doing everything we want. With “All Year Round” 3 of us had to drive 2 hours to Lakeland to record EVERY SINGLE TIME. It took us many trips over 2016 and 2017 to make it but we loooove recording so it was always worth it. We really have just done what we can with recording. We’ve made 3 albums self-produced so we feel like our 4th one is going to be another level above the one we just put out.”
FMF: Dr. Dog clearly pulls inspiration from The Beatles, so it’s no surprise you’ve picked tracks from both artists. If you were a band in 1968, who would you want to open for? Keep in mind The Beatles were done touring by then.
Steven Miller: “I would personally choose The Move because they came out with their amazing debut album that year and I heard their live shows were crazy and usually something was destroyed. I think we’d love to get wild but we are always opening so no one is quite loose enough yet.”
FMF: If you could only listen to one Beatles album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Steven Miller: “Yesterday And Today is one that I could just play over and over. That period of the Beatles was my favorite because the songs were like the most perfect pop songs. Short, simple, and ridiculously catchy.”
FMF: Was “Do It For Me” inspired by “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” at all? The keyboard chord progressions are similar.
Steven Miller: “Do it for me is a funny story to me because I made it up at first (just the intro) and I hated it. But Jake kept saying we should go over it and eventually it got more musical and interesting ideas got thrown in. We decided to take a doo-wop song and make it sound like a “baby baby” song, but really it’s about calling in a hit. We weren’t really into country joe until a bit after we wrote it. But as an organ player I am very influenced by the sounds of organs from the 60’s! I just bought a Yamaha organ that I’m excited to have on our next album! Organs rule!”
FMF: Same question as the Beatles albums. Which Stones album? Have you ever dug into the original by Don Covay? Jimi Hendrix is said to have played the guitar on it.
Andrew Sears: “Out Of Our Heads is by far my favorite Stones record. Its front to back full of hits. I’ve never heard the original, but I have heard other covers and I always end up going back to the Stones’ version.”
FMF: Thee Oh Sees are a staple on Feel Me Flow. What about them influences you as a band?
Andrew Sears: “John Dwyer’s writing and formulaic songs get you hooked with every new album release. Having owned more Oh Sees records than any other artist, I can safely say they’re one of my favorite bands.”
FMF: Many of Buzzcocks’ best songs were released as 7″ singles exclusively and compiled later. Do you have any plans to release wax pressings, be it 7″ singles or LPs?
Steven Miller: “We haven’t released anything but a CD of our second album and a cassette from Wiener Records of our first record. We record all our own stuff all the way to the final mix so we are all self-funded. A 7” would be awesome to have but at the moment we are looking to go all the way and make our next record (which we will get on this year) onto wax.”
FMF: It was always rumored that 10cc got their name from a pretty vulgar source, but that was disproven. Where did The Treetops’ name come from?
Steven Miller: “Funny enough our stories are similar because we needed a name, and someone just suggested something at the right time and no one else could think of anything better. Ours used to be Jeremy Treetop Window. Nobody could get it right and everyone called us treetops anyway. It felt like a natural progression.”
FMF: Regina has a poetic way with words. Who is your favorite lyricist/poet of all time?
Ashley Kennedy: “I honestly don’t have a favorite of all time. I’m one of those people that can’t decide on a favorite of anything. Even making the list of 5 bands and songs was brutal! But I will say, and this sounds like a set-up for my next question but it’s true- Isaac Brock is super influential to me lyrically.”
FMF: Nobody bends a harmonic like Isaac Brock. What other unique music techniques have you discovered or even “borrowed” along the way?
Ashley Kennedy: “I’d have to say, personally, playing the bass and singing/harmonizing at the same time. It isn’t a novel concept, but it was challenging at first especially since I wasn’t a seasoned player starting out.”
FMF: If it wasn’t for Johnny Cash playing the prison circuit, we may never have gotten Merle Haggard. If you were to play a prison tour, which prison would you want to play?
Ashley Kennedy: “Great question! Do they still have prison tours? I’d probably play any prison but the one near my hometown. High school reunions aren’t really my thing.”
We at Feel Me Flow want to thank Steven, Ashley, Jake, and Andrew from The Treetops for taking the time to chat with us about their InFlowences. The Treetops released the fantastic garage album All Year Round in March of 2018 with plans to record a 4th LP in the works for next year! Check out their Bandcamp page to support them!
Check out our List for all of the releases featured!