Nature vs. Man = Tree Machines
“We latched on to the idea of creating an album that was a mix of the digital and analog worlds,” says Douglas Wooldridge of the Lawrence, Kansas-based duo. Bandmate Patrick Aubry and Woolridge are set to release their debut self-titled EP as Tree Machines on March 31st, 2015. The EP is preceded by the provocatively titled single “Fucking Off Today”.
The new EP opens with this giant-sounding single, running without the bother of learning to crawl, and lyrically capturing the idea of not caring in a way no artist has before. “With open mouths to feed, we’re fucking off today,” Woolridge sings with ultimate conviction, adding an ironic touch that gives the song even more potency.
Why haven’t we heard a song about apathy delivered in such blunt terms until now? It’d have to be a tune with a melody and hook as strong as these to be believable, especially for a debut single with “fucking” in the title. Tree Machines pulls it off.
The anthemic side to this message, borne of Woolridge and Aubry’s observations of the on-off, blissed-out-but-strung-out club kids they’d see during their gigs as lighting designers, actually has a much more personal side for the guys themselves.
“We weren’t clicking as a group. We’d lost touch of why we made music together in the first place.”
Woodridge is referring to the fact that just a year ago, before they formed Tree Machines as a duo, he and Aubry were deep into the pre-production of an aborted full-length album as a foursome under the name Sobriquet. It was a situation that ultimately became an expensive misfire with dangerous consequences.
“There are still flakes of blood splattered on the wall of the living room,” Woodridge explains of the night that he had it out with his former drummer, resulting in a lacerated finger that kept him from playing guitar for two months. There, with only two weeks until the first day of tracking for the album, Woolridge came to the realization that his band was falling apart.
“Ego and resilience is a tough combo to go up against though,” he says of his reticent willingness to continue into the studio despite his growing awareness of the project’s downward spiral (and despite the previously mentioned violence.) “Patrick and I started talking about the future and the possibility of moving on,” he explains, detailing the back-up plan that he felt he needed to come up with.
Regardless, recording of the album as Sobriquet commenced. And, as expected (or predicted), it didn’t go so well. Drug use, equipment failure, unusable takes, and wasted days left Woodridge feeling that the album was doomed. By July of 2014, the record was finished, and so was the band.
“But, Patrick was a solid as rock and the songs were sounding great,” says Woolridge optimistically. “So we pushed on.”
No strangers to unique solutions to difficult situations, Woolridge rented a 9,000 square foot warehouse space (at Lawrence, Kansas prices, folks!) and moved all of their gear in. Though it had no running water, it did have what amounted to a giant echo chamber of concrete. The guys immediately took on the task of recording additional soundscapes, guitars, and percussion to make the finished Sobriquet album into the debut Tree Machines EP.
“Why not expand on what was really Pat’s and my baby all along?,” Woolridge asks. So, as the summer of 2014 was winding down, just two months after the demise of their band, Woolridge and Aubry had reinvented the record as all their own, and had re-named themselves Tree Machines.
Capturing these confusing feelings of youth, and longing for something so much bigger than what they refer to as “this Midwest lifestyle,” is in the band’s DNA. It’s an ideology that represents their passionate and urgent devotion to discovery, and for new ways of doing things in life, and in music.
The debut EP by Tree Machines arrives on March 31st. The debut single “Fucking Off Today” is streaming now
Tree Machines’s tracks