The mission of Between the Trees lies in plain view.
It’s not just in the music, though their sound is a wonder: hard-hitting, ambitious, accessible, riddled with unforgettable hooks that course through a sonic landscape of open vistas, quiet private spaces and sun-drenched, slamming beats.
Certainly there’s much to appreciate in their words, from celebrations of love (“White Lines & Red Lights”) to meditations on despair (“The Way She Feels” & “A Time for Yohe”).
But an even greater truth stands Between the Trees ... literally.
It’s in the name itself – specifically, in the space staked out by its suggestion of beginning and end.
“One tree represents where time and existence begins,” ventures lead singer Ryan Kirkland. “The other is the end of everything. Between them is the time we’re given on Earth. What matters is what we do with that time.”
You can’t get simpler – or more profound – than that. And it’s not only the starting point for what you hear from these five guys. It’s also the creed that’s driven them to accomplish something extraordinary.
To appreciate this, as you spin The Story and The Song, remember this: Just two years ago, as the group was coming together, most of its members hadn’t even begun to master their instruments.
“Playing well wasn’t what drew us to each other,” Ryan explains. “We figured that we would become good at what we did with time, and we didn’t worry about how long that would take. What was always most important to us was our personal connections to each other. With that, we knew that we’d be able to do whatever we needed to do.”
The attendance that swelled dramatically during the band’s Florida performances with the latest Warped tour ... the record-breaking crowd that jammed Orlando’s Hard Rock Live for the CD release party last September ... the judges who picked them a month later to showcase at Bamboozle Left in California ... the fans whose MySpace and website posts testify to their trust, loyalty and love ...
None of these witnesses to this band’s rise might have believed, at one time, that anyone could climb so far, so quickly. Yet now, knowing Between the Trees, you could say that doing anything less would have been more of a surprise.
Their story – and their songs – trace back to the friendship that grew between Ryan and Josh some six years ago. Ryan had been playing guitar for about a year; Josh announced that he was a drummer. “So,” Ryan says, laughing, “someone who was not a great guitarist and someone who lied about playing drums started this band.”
Josh’s brother Jeremy soon wanted to come onboard; though he’d never played bass, he picked up the basics from Ryan. They worked as a trio for a while, morphed into an acoustic act, and then ran into Wes Anderson; he was recruited to play keyboards, though his previous experience was his high school drumcore. Maybe seven months later, willing to try anything once, they added an actual experienced musician, Brad Kriebel, who had been playing guitar with hardcore bands around Orlando for a few years.
Thus the stage was set and, early in 2005, Between the Trees began its adventures.
Their first steps were small. With most of them still in high school, they concentrated on local gigs: parties, church events and downtown clubs like the Social. As interest grew, they sharpened their chops, tightened their songs and eventually scheduled studio time with producer Pete Thornton (Shinedown, Paramore, Day of Fire). For six weeks, before tape rolled, they locked themselves into an intense pre-production regimen. The plan was to get their material ready to record; the result was that plus maybe five new songs that rocked as hard and spoke as truthfully as everything they’d already written.
“It was super-stressful,” Ryan admits. “We usually write from experience, and it was hard to just sit in a room and pound out our ideas; that wasn’t much of an experience at all. So we left the studio and went out into the neighborhood, into this nearby park area, almost like children. Kids can escape easily from the mundane, day-to-day routine; it’s not so easy for us to get away and find ourselves again in that way. But we learned that again by going out into the forest, getting dirty and remembering why we do what we do. It was totally inspirational.”
That spirit drives The Story and The Song. “The Forward” opens the album like a rocket; “You Cry a Tear to Start a River” brings it back, its good-time, sing-along beat cushioning a gentle descent into the shelter offered by hope. Everything in the middle – between these trees of liftoff and coming home – sums up what Between the Trees is about.
With everyone out of school and committed full-time, the world is about to learn that the meaning of Between the Trees involves more than music; it’s the beginning of comfort and joy, wisdom and celebration. This is a band not to be taken lightly and never to be forgotten, whose secrets and pleasures are there for all to enjoy ... between the trees