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October Tree

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Greg Lounsberry of October Tree from 2012
MSJ:

It’s been quite a while since we did an interview with you. Can you catch the readers up on what’s been going on with your musical life?

After The Rocket4357 Project, I moved to Maryland and started Laserdogs. I just didn't know anybody here so it ended up solo. It was a great opportunity to hone my producing skills. While promoting that, I encountered Matt Sweitzer online and started singing with Canvas. I cowrote and sang five of the songs on Digital Pigeon, and contributed guitar and background vocals. I also interview artists for The Canvas Prog Hour.

MSJ:

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

I have worked for years as a robotics technician. Lately I have been working as an engineer. That is probably what I would do if I weren't involved with music.

MSJ:

How did the name of the group originate?

I was remembering some of my favorite Ray Bradbury books from my childhood. I named the band after his books, "The October Country,” and "The Halloween Tree.”

MSJ:

It seems each time you release an album, it’s with a different project and under a different banner. Is that accurate and if so, is it an intentional process or do you see this new project continuing longer?

Up to this point, that has been true. The Rocket4357 Project, was a collaboration with some musicians in Florida. Laserdogs was a good album, but nobody bought it, so there is no point in throwing good money after bad. My continuing collaboration with Matt and Chris with Canvas is really where it's at right now. We have a new Canvas album coming out later this year. I think it has been somewhat intentional as I have been searching for my voice as a producer. I am pretty sure with October Tree, that I have found it. We are getting a mountain of positive feedback about October Tree, so you can be sure there will be another one. The Canvas guys have already signed on for a follow up. Tammy is married to me, so she has no choice. (laughter) The next album will be a different kind of concept album that doesn't rely on a long story. 

MSJ:

What makes this project different from your previous ones and in what ways is it similar?

It is different in scope. I spent a lot more time writing the story than I expected. I was micromanaging details to stay true to the storyline as well as keeping the sound palette consistent throughout the album. Female vocals are a big difference. Having Matt, Chris and John on board gave me access to an incredible wellspring of talent. That is something I didn't have with Laserdogs. It is similar in that some of the guitar work is similar. Some of the songwriting techniques may be similar. This is a much more professional album.

MSJ:

I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Some critics have called it “melodic rock” or “art rock.” I think we have the same right to call it “progressive rock” as someone like Alan Parsons. It is true that songwriting and melodies are central to our sound.

MSJ:

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Roger Powell is a ripping synth player, but probably too busy. I love James "Owl" Walsh's B-3 playing with Gypsy. I never miss an opportunity to suggest Steve Hackett. Todd Rundgren, Neal Morse, Randy George, the list goes on...

Realistically, I have been in contact with some of my old musician friends from Florida, some of whom will probably be working with us in the future.

MSJ:

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

I used to think that it helped indie artists somewhat. I am not sure now. It has helped to contribute to our fame, but it has hurt sales.

MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

I personally don't have a problem with it. Fish used to offer commercial releases of heavily traded shows. That's a good idea.

MSJ:

If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Looper man. He can't play an instrument, but he makes a million bucks producing drivel with a laptop and software, and his co-nemesis AOR-Man makes sure it sells, and human-played music does not.

MSJ:

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

H.E.L.P. I can't get past the fact that Hendrix was supposed to be the fourth member of E.L.P. What would that sound like?

MSJ:

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

H.E.L.P. I can't get past the fact that Hendrix was supposed to be the fourth member of E.L.P. What would that sound like?

MSJ:

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

"October Fest" featuring October Tree, Canvas, Laserdogs, oh yeah and BEER. (laughter)

MSJ:

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

I bought an mp3 download of Flat Broke by Jim Pembroke. It was a lot better than I expected. It was very Nashville sounding, but if all of Nashville sounded like that, I wouldn't dislike country music so much.

MSJ:

Have you read any good books lately?

I like early 20th century pulps. I read "The Shunned House" by H.P. Lovecraft, and "Beyond the Farthest Star" by Edgar Rice Burroughs last week. By the way, John Carter got a bad rap from the critics.

MSJ:

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

I was a guest of Roye Albrighton at the Nektar concert in Springfield, VA. That was part of my duties as interviewer at The Canvas Prog Hour, but it was supremely enjoyable.

MSJ:

Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Clannad and Imogen Heap

MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Back in my gigging days, we had an unscrupulous booking agent. At one gig, we showed up at a senior center. On the sign it read, "Band Tonight: The Merry Old Timers.”

MSJ:

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

If my Dad were alive, it would be great if he and I could sit down with my sons, who have never met him. They would really like him!

MSJ:

What would be on the menu?

Big ribeye steaks, steak fries, and a beer

MSJ:

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Buy independent Music! Better Yet buy independent music from October Tree and Canvas!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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