"To me, this track is a sister song to our very first single 'Fucking Off Today,'" says Doug Wooldridge of Tree Machines referring to the track that launched the band in 2015 with a blunt declaration of what it's like to be caught in a uniquely Midwestern malaise. "'Fade On' is another visceral look into the party culture -- too much booze and too many drugs."
Wooldridge continues, "What draws these people to congregate in rundown warehouses and fields across the world with minds blown and bodies stuck in seemingly perpetual motion? It's the music, the vibes, the feeling of being surrounded by strangers that are just like you; faded and confused."
Wooldridge had "Fade On" half-written when he left on a trip to Ireland, and had the unfinished version with him as he hopped the flight back home.
"I'd just settled into my seat with a drink in hand and a pencil tucked behind my ear when I look up to see Thom Yorke walking past me," he remembers. "I worked up enough courage to go shake his hand and tell him he's an idol of mine, and then I went back to my seat, downed my drink, ordered a second, and finished 'Fade On' by the time we were over the Atlantic."
Relocated from Lawrence, Kansas, Tree Machines built a safe room in Los Angeles. Not for security of the conventional kind, but for a place to unleash, and make the kind of music that is at once vulnerable and strong, without fear of consequence. Anthems for times that don’t make sense, but carve a path forward. Call it a studio, if you have to. But you don’t have to.
Here, Douglas Wooldridge (vocalist, lyricist), bandmate Patrick Aubry, and producer Mike Giffin (all three contribute to the various instrumentation and music) have been creating "Up For Air," the debut Tree Machines full-length album.
The upcoming album follows-up 2015’s debut Tree Machines EP, which contained the single “Fucking Off Today,” a difficult-to-ignore opening salvo that expressed Midwestern malaise (which these former Kansans know all too well) in a new way. Three more Tree Machines singles appeared during the summer of that year.
“We come from that Midwestern comfort,” says Aubry. “I knew what the weekend held, and who I could expect to see stumbling home drunk from the bar. Rent was cheap, and the beer was cheaper. And it was all so comfortable.”
“It was disheartening at first,” Aubry confesses of the band’s move west. “Los Angeles had this golden aura around it from when I visited before we moved. This was the place dreams happened. This was the place where opportunity is just around the corner, waiting to jump out and surprise you.”
But Aubry and his bandmate sensed a special kind of loneliness in L.A. that only comes with being ignored.
“Los Angeles doesn’t care how much time or energy or effort or blood or sweat or anger you’ve spent to make your shitty music. It doesn’t care that you put together a band. It only cares about the result, and we are all stronger because of that,” he says.
Now, Los Angeles is beginning to smile at Tree Machines.The band is playing out, proving that their studio prowess isn’t just for the four walls.
“We have a chance to play live, and not be ostracized from the local scene because we’re not hip enough,” says Aubry. “I think people are going to be surprised that guys from Kansas can write music with a strong social conscience and unique ideas.”
"Up For Air," the debut album by Los Angeles-based band Tree Machines, arrives in 2017.