Interview with goodtree on Their Debut Single & Cover of Wilco's "If I Ever Was a Child"
New to the industry is this sweet indie rock band named goodtree, which I had the pleasure of interviewing.
Light, bare and lovely, this trio creates a beautiful rendition of Wilco’s “If I Ever Was a Child”. Their vocals are soft and serene as they are up against the fireside sounds of the guitars and the jazzy piano riffs. Their music is the perfect conclusion to a summer season as we welcome fall. I overall loved this slowed down version of this classic track and the emphasis of all of the players' parts in the piece. They skillfully lull you to dream of better days; simply living in blissful nostalgia.
goodtree started exploring their sound with this debut release, but of course they are creating songs of their own as well. This cover marks their introduction to the music scene. With more on the way, it will be exciting to hear how their music matures and evolves.
Here is our interview:
Neelu Mohaghegh [NM]: So tell me, how did you guys actually meet? How did you guys get into music? I want the whole genesis story.
All right. We all went to USC [University of Southern California], and Nick and I have been friends since freshman year. Then through, you know, all the trials and tribulations of these last few years, I came in contact with Rosie, who has many mutual friends with us. Probably last summer in the fall, we all started playing together more. I was playing with her in high school, but we really started picking it up again this year. I was trying to play with Nick, and we got to know, Rosie, and kind of thrown her into the mix, too. So, then we all started playing together and goodtree kind of formed over senior year of college.
[NM]: That's awesome.
Yeah, and I've been playing music, piano, since I was about six years old, mainly doing like classical and jazz music. But now, I've since kind of been doing more writing with Mason in the past year, and during that kind of transition, I also started playing the banjo last summer. So, I kind of started fresh with a new instrument right when we started playing together. That's been like a big learning experience, too.
[NM]: Banjo! That's sick.
Didn't we all meet at the desert rave? That's when I met Nick. Actually, I had already met Mason once. But yeah, the first time that we actually hung out was when we were playing together. I said this to Nick and Mason at one point, but I had never really sang before singing with them. I never did like chorus or anything, and the only reason that I wasn't really nervous about singing in front of them was because I didn't know them. So I was sort of like, "Whatever. If I suck, then I don't even know these guys. It doesn't matter. It's not like I'm good friends with them", and then obviously, we became really good friends. Haha.
[NM]: Hopefully, the fear is still not there, then.
No, totally, they're so sweet. It was nice because I didn't really have to get over the fear. I think singing in front of your friends would be really nerve wracking, and I guess that's kind of why I never did, but I was like, “I don't know, these fools.” Haha.
[NM]: I can actually relate to that. I feel like with public speaking, I'm always more afraid to speak in front of people I know than to strangers. It’s like “I don't have to see you again, if I don't want to” but if it's my friends. I'm like, “Oh, God, I see you every day”.
Yeah, exactly. There's no stakes at all.
[NM]: For sure! So, I'd love to hear kind of more about the creative process behind this single that you guys put out. This is your debut single and it’s a cover.
The creative process is kind of interesting. Nick and I probably played, you know, hundreds of songs together. Rosie, Nick, and I had gotten kind of into a rhythm of the songs we liked playing—what we kind of thought worked well. I guess kind of our best take of a rendition was this of Wilco’s “If I Ever Was a Child.” We kind of just stuck with it--We liked the little arrangement, we kept it together, and we liked the feedback we were getting from people. Then we worked with another artist, whom you've actually covered, Gonzo, who was our producer. So, he helped put the track together. Then it kind of just worked out from there. We played a couple shows and we kind of just like let it kind of take off.
[NM]: That's awesome. Very cool. I'm sure you guys have some more songs coming down the line and everything. I'll have that question to ask, but in terms of this song, would you say that this would be the song that you would introduce to people as who you guys are as a band or would this be the personality song for the band? Or would you say that songs to come will be that?
I think to an extent, yeah, but it’s still a cover. I think once we have more songs released, I don't know. Our original music, we would probably show that one over this cover, but I think definitely this first song of Wilco’s is like the perfect combination of all of our styles of music that we're interested in. Wilco’s definitely an influence to us. So, I think in that sense, that at least this shows the genre of music we like and is kind of an entry point into what we want to make.
[NM]: Yeah, for sure. So for influences, are there any other influences aside from Wilco?
I think part of our all of our influences are Wilco and Yo La Tengo is a big one, and Kurt Vile, I really, really love, and Neil Young. A lot of folk music, like Mazzy Star too, kind of really dreamy folk music is really, at least, what I respond to.
Yeah, Courtney Barnett, Mac DeMarco, pretty much anything new rock-ish. What about you, Rosie?
I think we all really like Soccer Mommy. We kind of like the newer indie rock stuff that's coming out now, in addition to the older stuff, which is like a fun mix. It's cool to see how we could play a song that was, I don't know, that's kind of old and kind of sounds nothing like us. But with our covers, I think we have like our own sound, which is kind of crazy because we were sort of just messing around together for a while, but I think after hearing the final version of our song, we were were all kind of laughing and were like, “we're a band". Haha.
[NM]: And that's the best way right for it to happen—Just to be accidental. I wanted to ask if you guys could have a dream tour with any band, any person, who would that be?
Oh man. Maybe Big Thief?!
Oh yeah, definitely.
Big Thief. Kurt vile again, Courtney Barnett.
[NM]: I would love to hear each of you kind of describe each other in one word or so.
Mason is a silly guy, and so is Nick honestly. Mason will go for anything and if it's a new song, a new skill, or a new project, he's just like, “whatever, I'll give it a shot”. He always ends up doing a great job with things. And Nick is just insanely talented. I remember the first time we played together, I was like, “Oh my God, what a crazy good musician.” That was way more than one word for me. Haha. I would say Mason is mayo and Nick is mustard—I'm changing my answer. Haha.
Yeah, I guess words for Mason, kind of similar to Rosie. He's very crafty. I've used that word to describe him before. But he's very good at finding new ways to pick up skills and get a thing done in a very innovative way. He's always looking for the best way to do things, which is very impressive, and shows a lot of drive. Rosie is hysterical. She's super witty, I think it's hard to keep up. She's just constantly making jokes. So yeah, she's great to have around—great energy.
Nick is super talented. That's definitely a key factor. He's definitely the bonds of our music—the core. As far as even we wouldn't be making music if we didn't have Nick essentially. Because I like teaching myself guitar, and then we're kind of like learning as we go, but Nick actually knows how music works. He’s a very grounding force. He keeps us all calm and collected. He keeps the ship afloat, which is you know, very appreciated. And then Rosie, Rosie is just energy. Now, she's out in Oregon right now saving the turtles, for a couple weeks, but then just a month ago, she’s whipping out the harmonica to do a harvest moon harmonica solo to like a crowd of 100 people, which was like crazy. So she she can kind of just do anything she wants, but that's the nice thing about this group is people just kind of figure it out. Definitely a crafty bunch, I like to think.
[NM]: I love the dynamic. I love that there's talent, and there's craftiness, and there's wittiness and energy. A very cool mix.
It's fun, cuz we're all friends, and all of our friends who help with the project are all friends too. So it's kinda like the combination of all of us combined.
[NM]: Absolutely. The perfect cocktail.
goodtree takes a village. Haha.
[NM]: Haha, I love it. I would love to hear what you guys have in store for the rest of the year? What projects are coming up?
We're deep trying to start recording stuff. It’s tougher with Rosie gone, so we're walking away from vocals for a little bit. But Nick and I have been writing down a lot of chords and lyrics hoping to get an EP ready for the fall or another single release before that, but right now, we’ve played like three or so shows, so trying to get some more going. Just kind of build our chops right now. Make sure whatever we put out whenever we perform, it's a quality that we really like. Also playing around with the production and writing process. We got four or five-ish songs. So, now it's really trailing them down and turning them into something and making sure whatever originals we do, we really are excited about.
Thank you! And...We’re all in the process of learning the harmonica too, which is going to be very much a central part of our music.
Rosie: What's to come is that we are just a harmonica trio. Hahaha.
[NM]: I was about to say, am I going to get like an EP of just harmonics? That would be great. Is there anything outside of music that each of you kind of picked up?
Us three backpack together all the time. We're all supposed to be like a nature hiking band, whatever that is (hence the name goodtrees). We're big campers these days.
[NM]: That’s very cool actually. I hiked so much this past year. If you guys were stuck on one of your hiking trails and you had nothing left but one song to keep with you, what would that one song be for each of you?
I thought you were gonna say which one of us would we eat?
[NM]: HAHA, no no. That would be an interesting question though!
Just off the top of my head, I've had it on repeat for the past three days “My Genji” by Sunset Roller Coaster. The beginning of it is super mellow, and then the second three minutes is a totally different song. If you haven't heard it, you should listen to it because it's awesome.
It's really hard to pick but what I've been listening to a lot lately is Webster's new album. I've probably played it like 20 times in the past week. The production on the album is just so phenomenal. A lot of Faye Webster.
Honestly, that's kind of hard. I'm looking at what do I listen to these days? Um, okay, it's fucked up, but like I want to say “If I Ever Was a Child” by Wilco, but I'm not gonna say that, but I still listen to that song all the time. It's really good! "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan probably represents this past month. I’m in a big Steely Dan phase. But definitely “If I Ever Was a Child”, and listen to the Wilco version!