Tree Party: I let the stories fight for my attention

Categories: CD Release
Photo by Matt Gorrie
Minneapolis band Tree Party dug up stories that map the history of this frozen state on their new album, Iced Over: Thawing Minnesota's Local Lore. While the lens of the songs were focused on the storytelling, the tunes take on a life of their own, rekindling long-lost memories and feelings. It's impressive what they can tell us about a place that we only think we know.

Before the band's album release at the Cedar Cultural Center on Sunday, Gimme Noise spoke with Joey Ford about what went into his year-long journey of recreating stories and how the band condensed it into a collection of songs.

Band Members: Andy Carroll, Travis Bolton, Jenna Wyse, Joey Ford

Gimme Noise: You have many themes in all of your albums. Why do you feel you are drawn to more cohesive subjects? Was it what you were interested in at that time in your life?

Joey Ford: Our first album was an intro to our musical development process. We usually all write and sing songs for the band, and our hot-iron branded album was our first project as a team putting out a collection of songs that were written from each of our perspectives.

Our second album came from our involvement in the creation of the 7-Shot Symphony, a theatre piece that focused on Western motifs. The first album had a flavor of the Western to begin with, and I suppose our band was chosen to write for the project based on earlier sounds we had -- we just got to cowboy it up a little bit more.

Iced Over
, due to the nature of the grant funding, was a very specific piece concerning what the songs were about and how the songs could benefit the state. We have another album in the works that we were planning on releasing before Iced Over that is currently in hibernation; the idea of that bunch of songs is more based on how we started -- songs from our perspective without any required forms or content. This is when we write the best material, I think.

How did this project initially begin? Was making this concept album your intent when you applied for the grant?

The idea was born with the writing of the grant. A few years ago, our buddy Jack Klatt released an album called Mississippi Roll and received the same grant (Artist Initiative Grant) to fund that project. He encouraged me to try my hand at grant writing, so I came up with the idea of hitting two birds with one stone -- strengthen my narrative songwriting skills and promote untold stories of Minnesota to the folks that live here.

It sounded like a lot of work went into Iced Over. Why did you want to research all of these stories? How did you divide up the work?

There was a ton of work that went into the project -- maybe more than I expected. I welcomed the challenge of traveling all over the state to seek out corners that held histories that were unknown to me. I am originally from South Dakota and saw this opportunity to learn as much as I could about my new home state. I gained a deeper understanding about not only stories and legends of the state, but also about the geography and social differences of each region.

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