About Trees on Fire
Smokin’ hot music with a cause! That’s definitely one way to sum up the provocative, innovative and eco-promoting material of the Charlottesville, Virginia rock band Trees on Fire. Nearly four years into their career, Trees on Fire’s five members have already built a sizable fan base and captured the attention of music heavyweights such as violinist Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band.
Looks like these trailblazers could be on their way to the big time!
“Trees on Fire is a band to watch for sure,” said Tinsley after judging the group at a songwriting competition at the Star Hill Music Hall in Charlottesville. “I look forward to working with them.”
What is it about Trees on Fire’s sound that has people like Tinsley singing their praises? According to co-founder and vocalist/guitarist Blake Hunter, the group skillfully fuses ear-catching melodies with unique harmonic concepts and world rhythms. He said he and his bandmates are not afraid to push the creative envelope in order to provide the listener with a fresh, exciting and inspiring experience.
Brendan Fitzgerald of Charlottesville’s weekly newspaper C-Ville offers his take on the band’s vibe in his review of Trees on Fire’s song “Birds and the Bees” from their latest EP “Organica Volume One.”
“A song that opens like a manic cousin to Seals and Croft’s ‘Summer Breeze,’ then gets all ‘90s funk-rock on your ass: distorted vocals burrowing into your headphones, thudding fuzz bass,” said Fitzgerald. “The first half of the tune is radio-ready; the second half is a dare, and a nice way to end the first volume of new tunes.”
Trees on Fire doesn’t just want to write and record stellar tunes, though. The band aims to bring attention to environmental issues, such as the destructive practice of mountaintop removal in the eastern United States. Mountaintop removal is a form of surface mining for coal that causes extreme topographical and ecological changes.
“Organica Volume One” explores these issues and others that are at the forefront of today’s ecological movement. The three-song project is the first in a series of EPs by Trees on Fire, featuring the band’s signature blend of rock, classical, hip-hop, electronica, reggae and more.
“The themes of our songs are born out of what’s going on in our world at the moment,” said Paul Rosner, drummer and vocalist. “It’s like we’re taking snapshots of what we see and asking some important questions along the way.
“We all feel what’s happening to our earth is a little out of whack and hope what we’re doing will inspire people to want to help do something about it.” Trees on Fire has been working toward its goal to build a better planet since forming in 2005. Early that year, Hunter and Rosner teamed up with Hunter’s Boston University buddies Rob Mezzanotte (vocals, guitar, saxophone, keyboards), Brian Wahl (bass) and Justin Esposito (keys, violin, accordion, guitar, vocals). They began writing songs, recording and performing at local venues around Charlottesville.
Among the band’s accolades are winning the First Amendment Writes songwriting competition in 2007. The group also was named “Greenest Regional Band” by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine that same year.
Hunter admits it took a while for Trees on Fire’s sound to come together. "We’ve all had to learn how to communicate with each other on every level. Without communication, there’s no hope.”
In striving to be better artists, Hunter said he believes that process has made every person in the band a more responsible, well-rounded individual. And whether or not Trees on Fire achieves fame like its musical idols Radiohead and the Beatles, the band’s burning passion to spread love, goodwill and great music will remain.
“We’re a lot more concerned with making quality music than making it in the business,” said Hunter. “That seems like a waste of energy. Our goal is to expand, explore and enjoy every minute of it. So far, that’s what’s been happening and it’s a beautiful thing.”