Truffula Tree: One Of Tyler's Best Rock Bands Has Arrived
By STEWART SMITH
Entertainment EditorEDITOR'S NOTE:
If you are a singer/songwriter or you have a band and you'd like to be featured in this ongoing series about East Texas musicians, feel free to contact me at email@example.com
. My intent is to showcase live performers. To be considered for this series you must perform with some amount of regularity in the area. If you have a CD or recordings, all the better. I can't guarantee that every person who sends me material will be featured, but I'd certainly love to hear what's out there.
Truffula Tree is an anomaly.
Typically it takes months for a band just to find its footing, to establish their sound, to really gel and sound like, well, a band. But in less than a year, Truffula Tree has become perhaps the most polished local rock band currently playing the area. There's a confidence and a precision to their music that most professional bands work years to perfect. Not bad for a group whose currently lineup only just played their first full live set together last March.
ABOVE: Truffula Tree frontman Seth Lord (left) and bassist Steven Mitchell record acoustic versions of three of their songs at the radio station 96X on Tuesday. — Staff Photos by Herb Nygren, Jr.
A few of their songs are available for purchase online and some of their music may be sampled via the band's MySpace page, but listening to Truffula Tree's music through those avenues almost does it a disservice. A live performance is unquestionably the only proper way to experience what this band has to offer. What they might lose in production is more than compensated for in presence and energy. Steven Mitchell is constantly roaming the stage, thumping out basslines and hopping on top of amp stacks. Lead guitarist Cody Sowell shreds like few others on the Tyler scene, banging his head all the way from solo to solo. Drummer Mike Hill is barely visible behind his cage of cymbals and skins, though he makes his presence undeniable with the flurry and fury of his playing. Pulling them all together and propelling the band into the territory of true greatness, though, is frontman/guitarist/keyboardist Seth Lord. The man may be a bit shy and modest off the stage, but put a guitar in his hands and a mic in front of him and he unleashes a musical prowess both vocally and instrumentally that is electrifying. Take the enigmatic lyrical style of The Smashing Pumpkins, combine it with the instrumental styles of Muse and Incubus and you'll begin to get an idea of just what these guys sound like.
Technically Truffula Tree has been around for close to three years, though only Lord remains from that original lineup. Creative differences resulted in the members parting ways and Lord in need of some new musicians, some of whom sought him out. Mitchell said all it took was hearing Lord sing "Bonfire" before deciding that Truffula Tree was a band he'd "drive two hours to be in."
"I was just drawn to (Seth's) voice," Mitchell said. "It's hard to find a singer around here that can write with emotion. He can put stuff into words a lot more gracefully than most people and that's what really attracted me."
Sowell quickly joined as he and Lord had been looking for an opportunity to collaborate for some time while Hill, Lord said, was simply the best drummer who tried out.
ABOVE: Truffula Tree guitarist Cody Sowell makes a live acoustic recording at radio station 96X Tuesday afternoon.
"He was just a nice fit as soon as he walked in," Lord said.
The band's name is a reference to the trees at the center of the story in Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax." Lord said he picked the name for what it represents.
"Even when I was little and couldn't put it into words, I always kind of had a relationship with the truffula tree. It seemed like this beautiful thing with a lot of potential that … gets used by the Once-ler for something that makes more money but isn't good for anybody," Lord said. "You see in the music business all the time people selling out for money and using their potential to do things that are not necessarily good or what they originally intended to use their potential for."
Though they can rock as hard as anyone, there's a texture to the music that escapes most modern rock bands. Much of this can likely be attributed to Lord's love of classical piano compositions.
"Before I ever learned to play guitar, I played piano and I'd say my biggest influences there are from the Romantic period," Lord said. "And not just the music, but the art and the architecture, it was just a beautiful period, very dynamic and passionate music and art."
Hill said, for some, joining a band with material already firmly in place could pose a challenge but that he and the other members just seemed to be a natural fit right from the start.
"All the chemistry that we have is really good. I've been in bands where you really had to work at it," he said. But so far with this, we really haven't had to work at it. It's been very natural. … One of the first songs that we wrote together we wrote in a night. It's so easy to work with some people when the chemistry is good because everything just falls into place."
Lord said their collaborative process is fairly organic, often just spontaneously playing music and letting the pieces come together on their own.
"I don't know if other people do this, but we kind of let the music melt together first and then as far as lyrics, at first, before there's even words I like to see what vowels sound like with certain chord progressions and melodies. Then, depending on whatever I'm thinking about or worried about the words just kind of form from there," Lord said. "Sometimes the lyrics will be written just from finding what vowels sound the best and not even having a meaning. And then it's fun for me, because it's almost like someone else wrote those lyrics and I kind of have to decipher them for myself."
Lord's method is unorthodox to be sure, but the results are undeniably effective.
Truffula Tree will play The Venue at the Down Under Pub in Tyler at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Venue is at 212 Old Grande Blvd.