Artist of the day: Burning Tree
Burning Tree is a reggae/rock band (a la Sublime, 311, Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, et al.) on the cusp of their first East Coast tour. They’ve prepared by putting all their proverbial eggs in one basket: they quit their jobs, sold their cars, and pooled their resources to procure a van they’ve dubbed The Chairforce One. The quartet (together since 2005) have decided it’s time to hit the road.
The group will kick off their tour with a show at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Tickets are $5-$7.
I sat down with the quartet — singer-guitarist Dave Rothe, guitarist Mark Georgieff, bassist Mike Fratone and drummer Frank Meza — on a rainy Tampa evening and rapped with them about their aspirations and expectations.
As of late, the group seems to be doing quite well. Didn’t you recently win a pretty big contest: 7-Eleven Slurpee’s National Battle of the Bands?
Fratone: We didn’t win. We went to New York, and got put up in some pretty cool accommodations to open up for N.E.R.D.
Rothe: Well the story is there were 900 entries nation wide, and we were one of 12 that were selected. They flew us to New York and they did three separate regional shows. N.E.R.D. headlined the show at Irvine Plaza. We didn’t win, but it was a good opportunity.
Did you make any meaningful connections when you were there?
Georgieff: Some film students who saw us in New York are gonna be following us around when we do our tour up that way. They’re gonna go to Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. They were supposed to come down for our CD release party and film a video and document that, but their plans got messed up and couldn’t do it.
Has your CD already been released?
Rothe: Yeah, it was in January. What we have out now is an EP. This fall’s tour is pushing the EP and building some interest in the band. We plan recording and releasing something else when we get back.
Fratone: We like the idea of releasing a lot of EPs. Sure, they’re short, but we can put out two or three a year, so you always have something new, It’s evolution, not like an album a year. This one was hard to get into, because we had our nine to fives, we had our day jobs. It wasn’t like we could do three 10-hour days. Bam, bam, bang some stuff out. You’re constantly coming back to it after a week. And you can just never be fresh on it. It was tough, I think it was a tough recording experience, just because we had so many other things going on too. We couldn’t really put ourselves into it as much as we wanted too.
What would you say your crowning achievements as a band thus far have been?
Fratone: Making it seven years...
Meza: ...without breaking up. (laughs)
Rothe: Achievements? The big shows we’ve played: Jannus Landing, the New York show. The bigger national acts we’ve gotten to play with: The Expendables, Less Than Jake, Soldiers Of Jah Army. We just love to play music and love to play with bands we like. We’re not about racking up credentials. MTV is not the goal. We just wanna make enough money to live off of our music.
Fratone: Fame is a double-edged sword; you don’t want fame. Infamy, now...
What do you aspire to achieve?
Rothe: We’re gonna hit the road, go do this tour, come back, release another CD. Hopefully there’ll be some interest and we’ll sell a bunch right off the bat, do some loops around Florida for the rest of the year, then hopefully head west at the beginning of next year.
Georgieff: Move to California! Play our way over there. Stop in a different region every 6 or 8 months. Touch base where you’ve already making your way across, so people remember you and make your presence known.
Meza: We definitely wanna be nomadic about it.
Rothe: The idea is to do what we can around here, the up-root and set up shop for months. There’s no sense in driving across the country for two weeks worth of shows and driving all the way back. It’s either the best or worst idea we’ve ever had.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*