‘Natural Habitat’ is Treeboy & Arc’s most ambitious release to date, after the original version was scrapped. With the opportunity to really experiment in the studio, the songs recorded became darker, harsher, and more brutal sounding than any of the original demos the band had recorded themselves. With two singers and two lyricists, the meaning of each song feels completely separate from the last. From anxiety to the supernatural, whether disguised by cryptic language or told as “matter of fact”, the album discusses the full spectrum of emotions.
The band felt it important to keep things homegrown and chose to work alongside seminal Leeds producer Matt Peel at his studio The Nave, who has worked on the likes of TRAAMS, W.H. LUNG, Eagulls, Pulled Apart By Horses, Heck, and more, helping them create a brand new sound.
‘Retirement’ is one of the final songs written for the album with the majority of the lyrics hastily thrown together from note pages and then recorded the next day – not your average post-punk, but bordering on catchy brit-pop.
Guitarist Ben Morgan says, “We recorded the album in winter and at the time I was working at a cafe/restaurant. Most mornings I would have to get up at 5am, it would still be pitch black outside, hurriedly dress myself in multiple layers top and bottom and endure the 20 or so minute cycle through the bitter cold to work. I would arrive just before 6am where I would drag 20 or so tables and their accompanying chairs from inside the restaurant and onto the outdoor terrace, despite the fact that I knew for certain not a single person would sit on them all day in the sub zero temperatures. It was this utter futility that left me longing to retire, at 25.”
He adds, “It was frustrating that I had to work this meaningless job in order to survive but wasn’t able to commit the time and effort to the things I actually cared about. Being any kind of “creative” often takes a lot of hard work to do it properly is almost like a full time job in itself, except usually minus the financial gain. Many people are in a constant battle between survival and finding the time to do the things that truly matter to them, this is what retirement is about.”
For the video, the idea behind it was essentially for the band to be playing in the absolute smallest pub they could find in Leeds, with some retired folk around, completely unaware of the racket surrounding them. Instead, just focusing on enjoying their usual day-to-day hobbies. Crosswords, reading the paper, catching up with each other, having a pint and just generally chilling out.
After successful single releases, via Leeds’ Come Play With Me Records and London’s lauded tastemaker label Speedy Wunderground, the band self-released their debut EP Life Preserver to high praise from the likes of BBC6 Music, BBC Radio 1, So Young Magazine, DIY, CLASH, and more. In 2022 they played The Great Escape, Left Of The Dial in Rotterdam, and toured Europe. They’ve previously shared stages with Parquet Courts, Shame, Ulrika Spacek, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, and toured with Crows and LIFE, as well as being supported by PRS Foundation.
Treeboy & Arc have so far been confirmed to perform at Sound & Vision, Ceremony at Esquires, Blue Dot Festival, and a headline show at London’s Moth Club for October. They’ll also support DITZ next month at selected dates.
Out 7th July 2023 via Clue Records
1. Midnight Mass
3. Virtual Reality Check
4. Box Of Frogs
5. Human Catastrophe
6. False Objects
7. Character Building
8. Behind The Curtain
9. Winter Of Existence
Tour dates 2023
18/04 – Nottingham, Bodega Social Club w/ DITZ
19/04 – Manchester, SOUP w/ DITZ
20/04 – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club w/ DITZ
21/04 – Cambridge, Sound & Vision
10/06 – Bedford, Ceremony @ Esquires
22/07 – Cheshire, Bluedot Festival
18/10 – London, Moth Club
Tickets on-sale now HERE
Treeboy & Arc are:
James Kay – Bass / Vocals
Ben Morgan – Guitar / Vocals
Sammy Robinson – Synths
George Townend – Guitar
Isaac Turner – Drums
A project formed off the back of James and George’s teenage friendship, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly how long Treeboy & Arc has existed. The pair met Ben at college, bonding over a mutual disinterest in the course they were supposed to be studying, with Isaac joining a little later after a chance encounter at a New Year’s Eve party. Initially writing down-the-line post punk as a four-piece out of bedrooms in North Leeds, the band first entered the public consciousness in 2016 and quickly developed a reputation for their captivating and dynamic live performances. In the year or two that followed, the band did their best to strip the paint from the walls of most of the venues across the city, with relative success. After the purchase of a pawn shop synthesiser in early 2018 they quickly realised there weren’t enough hands for the job and Sammy joined, making up the current quintet and enabling the band to develop a more complex and expansive sound.
A DIY ethos is at their core, with the band championing their Northern origins.
In mid 2018 they moved into a redbrick terrace in LS6, with the main criteria for the property being: does it have a basement? Within a week the damp, underground room had been transformed. Large egg trays acquired from a nearby hotel were crudely glued to the walls as make-shift soundproofing and the floors covered with carpet cutoffs. This gave the band a space where they could truly forge their own sound.
Often with no stand out lead melody, Treeboy & Arc are a sonic example of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Made up of meandering, interlocking guitar melodies propped up by a sturdy, yet intricate, rhythm section that often just won’t quit, plus synthesisers will make you wince with dissonant pads before punching you in the stomach with a driving arpeggiator sequence.
The band pits pop songs against avant-garde, kraut-punk noise to see which elements come out on top, perfectly setting the scene for abstract tales of disillusionment, loss, ill health and the occasional Bob Mortimer obsession. Typically spoken word-esque vocals are spat atop these vivid soundscapes with the vocalists choosing to prioritise lyrics and feeling before melody and harmony. Though often dark and sinister sounding, you don’t need to listen hard to hear the tongue-in-cheek wit and cynicism in their deliveries that is so often associated with the North of England.
After two successful single releases via Leeds’ own Come Play With Me Records and London based record label Speedy Wunderground, it was decided the next project would be a debut album. Despite many advising a couple of EP’s or Singles would be more beneficial, Treeboy & Arc chose to ignore this and instead do things their own way, quickly booking in studio time in Meanwood. It took less than four days to record the album in November 2019, recorded in a live fashion with each track blending seamlessly into the next, in an attempt to mimic their frenetic, non-stop live shows. Then, just as talks began on how to release the record, a global pandemic hit, putting everything on hold.
With the feeling that it would be counterintuitive to release the somewhat ‘live’ album without being able to tour it, they instead worked on a new 4-track EP, sending demos back and forth to each other during the lockdown until they were able to get back into the studio. A process very alien to a band that usually writes as a group in a dimly lit room. The result of this was their 2021 EP Life Preserver.
Fast forward a year and the album that the band had once felt so proud of, now felt dated. Songs that had been written two, three, even four years prior no longer represented who the band were or how they sounded. Keen not to cut corners, the decision was made to re-record the album. In the months that followed the band focused on experimenting, writing new songs and rearranging old songs, all from the confines of a new, yet equally damp, rehearsal space shared with friends and fellow Leeds musicians Van Houten.
By the winter of 2021, Treeboy & Arc were back in the studio to begin work on what they were already referring to as “Album Two”, despite the fact the rest of the world never actually got to hear “Album One”. Despite opportunities to record in other parts of the country, the band felt it important to keep things homegrown and chose to work alongside seminal Leeds producer Matt Peel, who has worked on the likes of TRAAMS, W.H. LUNG, Eagulls, Pulled Apart By Horses, Heck, at his studio The Nave in Stanningley.
The album however seemed destined to never be completed with work grinding to a halt after just the first session tracking drums, as Isaac got COVID. Things were hastily rebooked and a couple of weeks later the band were back in the studio determined to make good progress, but it was not to be. James got it next, though this time perhaps providing a saving grace as he had just boldly claimed he could “easily” run 20 mph in a pair of crocs, a ludicrous statement that could now conveniently not be tested. Needless to say, things didn’t stop there as each one of the sessions was prematurely curtailed or interrupted by at least one of the band or Matt contracting the virus, making progress slow. The band limped on though, recording what they could with the members available to them and after 10 days in total and many lateral flow tests, “Album Two” was eventually finished and their debut album was finally ready.
In 2023, Treeboy & Arc signed to Leeds based Clue Records (Bored At My Grandmas House, The Wedding Present, YOWL), who recently announced their partnership with EMI North, and are finally gearing up for the release of their debut album Natural Habitat out this summer.