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Since their inception in 1980, And Also The Trees has developed significantly and has produced a wealth of stunning material and has gained a very solid and loyal fanbase since. In order to celebrate their 25th band anniversary, the band decided to release a first, much overdue best of album, that compiles songs spanning over all their career from the very early days of 1980 till today.
The rapturously poetic baritone of Simon Huw Jones narrates dismal scenarios involving characters that seemed to have sprung from the pages of 19th century authors Thomas Hardy or Oscar Wilde, with the willowy imagery and colours of a pre-raphaelite canvas as the backdrop. Simon's vocal delivery and tone is ranging from partially spoken lyrics to angst-ridden freak outs and breakdowns.
His intensely theatrical performances and lyrics are perfectly complimented by guitarist and brother Justin Jones. Justin's technique and sound is as unique then as it is now, with tremolo picked guitar lines awash with heavy flange, chorus, and delay effects. His playing is fluid, and pulsates in waves of ghostly gloom, highly distinctive and innovative.
Behind all this, pulsates the tight rhythm section of Steven Burrows and Nick Havas (since 1997 Paul Hill). Steven's bass lines come across as both lulling and rhythmic but also provides a solid melody similar to Peter Hook's influential playing in Joy Division. Nick's dense and thick drumming snaps and punches behind the band, with the energy of post punk but a proficiency and flavour found only in jazz.
For the curious this is album is probably the best place to start.
Read more about each song of this compilation.
1. Talk Without Words
2. Scarlet Arch
3. Macbeth's Head
4. Red Valentino
5. A Room Lives In Lucy
7. Feeling Fine
10. Gone... Like The Swallows
12. Virus Meadow
13. Jonny Lexington
15. Mermen of the Lea
16. Prince Rupert
17. Slow Pulse Boy (live)
18. In My House
On the 12-Jan 1980 AATT did their first ever concert at the Grieg Memorial Hall in Alcester in original line-up with Graham Havas (Bass), Nick Havas (Drums), Justin Jones (Guitar) and Simon Huw Jones (Vocals).
Witnesses told that AATT already seemed so very different to all the punk rock bands also playing that day with Simon wearing a long grey coat and reading some of his lyrics from behind a newspaper.
Songs rumored that have been played are: 'Dreamt', 'Hitman', 'Searchlight', 'And Also The Trees' and 'Warpaint 11'.
SHJ: "I can't remember when we first got our hands to instruments. Sometime at the end of the Punk-rock-era. It's hard to tell exactly when And Also The Trees were founded because we know each other for so long."
SB: "We were extremely naive, extremely young & completely self-obsessed, like any good new band should be. Of course there were enormous, painful & demoralising events to follow that left us with a healthy amount of cynicism..."
JJ: "It was weird; we'd be playing in London to several thousand people and the next day we'd be in school doing geography."
SB: "It's easy to forget that we were quite a bit younger than our contemporaries, having started out so young. We were always the 'baby brothers' so to speak, sneaking time off school to do tours!"
SHJ: "We practically have our teenage and adolescent years documented on record because as we have changed as people you can see it on the records."
JJ: "Generally I would like to think we haven't 'stood still' musically. It's easy to keep making the same record but not fulfilling. I feel quite happy with the turns we made, its probably that which has kept us interested. We have also cleverly avoided making any money."
SB: "I think we have a lot to be proud of. We have never made a record that we didn't like...we have never compromised our music for commercial reward...and we have never been part of a fashion or scene. We have an incredible bond of friendship within AATT & this has been the key to our longevity."
To see how the influences for the band evolved over the time you can read an interview for Glasnost in 1992 with SHJ (thanks Mike W. for the translation) as well as an interview for CoN in 1999 with SB, an interview with Mick Mercer in 2004 and an outlook about the follow-up album to Further From The Trurth in an interview with Simon 2006.
Below you find the inital transcript put together for the 25 years anniversity.
It has been compiled from numerious sources and been put on Wikipedia for common input.
You can find a translated version on the German Wikipedia site.
And Also The Trees started in the dawn of the Eighties in Inkberrow-Worcestershire, a small village in Worcestershire, far in the countryside. They never had the pressure to move to London. Inspired by the ideology of a still-developing post-punk movement the band was influenced almost exclusively by the landscape & history of the rural environment that surrounded them.
A first made-at-home tape was sent to The Cure which led them of a friendship between both bands. In 1981 And Also The Trees played several shows in support of The Cure's UK tour. Their second demo tape From under the hill (1982) was partly co-produced with Robert Smith and Mike Hedges.
Their first two single releases Shantell, The secret sea and their debut album, simply called And Also The Trees had been produced by Laurence Tolhurst and were released 1983. The debut album reflected the early, tentative post-punk roots. They got attention of John Peel and were invited to do a session on 7th. April 1984 produced by Dale Griffin for broadcast on 24.April.
After a second tour with The Cure in 1984, they cut of relationship and developed their sound by themself. The EP A room lives in Lucy (1985) introduced the mandolin-like guitar sound which they became trademark for the next years. Justin Jones in 1985 on the first releases: "I think our musical progression is similar to that of Joy Division's. If you listen to 'Warsaw' and then 'Joy Division', their awareness of atmosphere increases. Creating an ambience is very important."
Primarily influenced from the band's rural english environment the band released Virus Meadow (1986), an album of rich, pagan melancholy & disturbing laments. There is no sane urbanity here; only heretic nature. And Also The Trees are acutely attuned to their environment: AATT employ language to communicate, rather than to satiate.
In the same year the band went on their first European tour which the live album The evening of the 24th (1987) give an impressive testimony. Another EP The critical distance was released later in 1987 as well. The violent nature of the material shows a band fighting their way back to creativity from the first creative block they had endured in the time after the release of Virus Meadaow.
With regained inspiration And Also The Trees polished and matured the sound they had bagan with Virus Meadow the following years. Audible proof are the singles Shaletown and the The house of the heart as well as the albums The Millpond years (1988) and Farewell to the shade (1989). Both releases are influenced by personal memories and enlighted by poets and painters from the early 19th century as well as the coming of the keyboard producer Mark Tibemham. The issue of a modern, industrial society carving it's way through the heart of a rural idyllic is something that was a prevalent lyrical theme throughout this period in the bands evolution.
These years marked their most commercial success and they created a strong following all over Europe and also got some attention in Japan; far away from the quick fashions of London. The Paris concert in 1989 where the band was playing in front of a huge audiance is remembered as one of the most remarkable moments in the bands career.
1989 also sees the single releases of Lady D'Arbanville, a completely revised Cat Stevens cover of a song the Jones's brothers had grown up with and the French only Misfortunes single.
1990 was a year of introspection with only three European dates. They changed the management, made a US tour (1991) and reactivated the contact with The Cure which resulted in the U.S.-only release of the EP The Pear Tree featuring a remix by Robert Smith and Mark Saunders.
In 1992 the band released the last album produced by Mark Tibenham called Green is the sea in which the keyboard got more accent. New characters embark on ghost ships, across dangerous seas and drifting by new mirages of love and truth. It's maybe the band most accessible work which they promoted by a two legs European tour including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and France with a lot of sold-out dates.
A hard nucleus of fans pushed them for a digitally remastering of their singles and EP's. So From Horizon to Horizon, a CD collection of primarily single and non-album tracks between 1983-1992 was released.
A new chapter followed in 1993. Elaborated in Cornwell during the tempest of the summer and recorded in front of a wildly furious sea The Klaxon introduces urban moods for the first time. Trumpet, acoustic percussions, madolin and bright sounds dominate assisted by a Hammond organ. But there's not only urbanisation. The bad working streetlights then turn into red sunrises, chaotic intersections become green hills, doves circuit the sky and in lace white fields we cut the violets and smell the perfume of the corn where time has stopped.
1994 sees the band touring which resulted in the release of the live album The Bataclan and a tour video from the concert in the Hamburg Markthalle.
In 1995 a project called G.O.L. between Justin Jones and Mark Tibenham along with Antonia Rainer resulted in the electro-ethno-ambient release of the album "Sensations of Tone" and the single "Soma Holiday". The album features a cover version of the early And also The Trees song "There were no bounds". Meanwhile Steven and Nick moved to London and Simon to Switzerland.
The band's seventh regular studio album Angelfish (1996) sees the band venture deeper into American themes, abandoning the guitar sounds they came synonymous for now mostly using a 50's guitar sound instead. With an increased interest in different forms of american art like painting, literature or different films and directors the band tried to include these infuences into the music to create a British perception of "Americano".
Silver Soul (1998) follows the path of Angelfish using a more heterogeneous approach with poetry elements in the lyrics to a greater extent again than on the former release. The album introduces some Jazz influences and Paul Hill on drums. Silver Soul takes the listener on an aural road-movie through long deserted streets across endless open spaces and is maybe the band's most untypical album. Silver Soul was the band's first release on the new own label. With Nailed the band released a EP the same year.
After a five year break And Also The Trees released Further from the truth (2003) recorded in the Worcestershire countryside and co-produced with Matt Devenish. On this album the band left the 50's sound of the predecessors behind and did what they thought is natural for them to play. With a mellow and again more original sound they returned to their trademark rural romanticism imbued with a newly acquired edginess and realism by words of a much darker tone; recalling emotions of nostalgia drawn on contemporary influences.
In 2004 and 2005 the band played a few shows at some festivals like the Paleo and the Wave-Gotik-Treffen. They also did their first ever show in Athens.
They celebrated the 25'th anniversary with a special show on a boat in Paris, a concert in a church in Germany and a Best of compilation (2005).
The much anticipated 10th studio album is titled (Listen For) The Rag and Bone Man (2007) and the band embarked on their first regular tour since four years.
Emer Brizzolara (Keyboard) 2006-present
Steven Burrows (Bass) 1983-present
Graham Havas (Bass) 1979-1983
Nick Havas (Drums) 1979-1997
Paul Hill (Drums) 1997-present
Ian Jenkins (Double Bass) 2004-present
Justin Jones (Guitar) 1979-present
Simon Huw Jones (Vocals) 1979-present
Emer Brizzolara 1994-2006
Dale Hodgkinson 1998
Mark Tibenham 1988-1983
William Waghorn 1993-1998
If you like to dig deeper read this excellent portrait about And Also The Trees (in French).
A overview in German mainly based on this history have been published in the Ox-Fanzine.
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