So what tunes inspire you? That’s the question Laurie Sherman, guitarist in the Treetop Flyers, answered ahead of their gig at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen (October 6th).
The west London five-piece are on their way across town thanks to a string of intimate shows around the UK allowing them to road test some new material. After all, it’s been ages since they released their sublime debut album, The Mountain Moves. And even longer since they scooped the Glastonbury Emerging Talent award in 2011.
That said, if the stories surrounding The Mountain Moves sessions are to be believed, there’s no wonder the group aren’t in a hurry to hit the studio again. Heading to California after a successful stint of shows at SXSW in March 2012, a hurricane alert and a harrowing airplane ride meant the band ended up stranded on the outskirts of Denver. When they finally arrived in LA, producer Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Bert Jansch) hadn’t quite finished work on Banhart’s latest album, which meant that the Flyers had two weeks to kill.
They spent a fortnight on a road-trip to Joshua Tree, making a Gram Parsons pilgrimage to Cap Rock and also stopping at Pappy and Harriets – a far-flung Mojave desert favourite of Queens of the Stone Age, Giant Sand and Arctic Monkeys. They rocked up to one of the legendary roadhouse’s famous open mic night in their best cowboy threads to play a lengthy set. The band eventually got to work at Zuma Sound, a new studio built for producer Rick Rubin. However, not long into the album sessions eviction notices started appearing on the door. “We kept thinking, are we gonna be here next week? We’ve got 10 more tracks to do…” recalls singer/guitarist Sam Beer.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s certainly been true for the Flyers. And every experience – from their casual birth as a band in a Shepherds Bush rehearsal room to their country soul debut – is just another inspiration for Laurie. And here’s why he puts Sabbath and The Byrds up there with the best:
Air Dance by Blacks Sabbath
I can’t think about musical inspirations without Black Sabbath being the first band that pops into my head. They are top of the pile for me, with some of the most creative and melodic rock music ever created. I’ve been listening to this song on repeat for the last year and I’m amazed every listen. It is a little softer than most people think of Sabbath and the production if verging on cheesy – but it’s still so good. It has some really cool grooves and really shows their jazzier side.
Autopsy (from the BBC sessions) by Fairport Convention
Another band that have been a massive inspiration for me are Fairport Convention. The Richard Thompson-era of Fairport is probably the coolest and most original sounding folk rock bands to come out of the UK. This track really showcases how amazing they all where, with an amazing groove that drops effortlessly into another time signature. Richard Thomspon’s guitar solo is so good in this track – it’s really laid back and tasteful. And Sandy Denny is always just amazing and creates such great moods with her vocals.
Nissim (with Amir Yaghmai) by Gaslamp Killer
I knew nothing about this dude until I saw his Glastonbury set on tv. I was totally blown away by what he was doing with a full live band. His music has a really cool eastern vibe and also touches on everything from Ethiopian style jazz to really out-there electronic music. Listening to Gaslamp Killer has really inspired me to record a whole load of new music at home and experiment with new genres in music, allowing myself to break out of my normal mould. This way of thinking has really helped the way I approach playing in Treetop Flyers.
Magic Doors by Portishead
I really got into Portishead in the last year or so. And I know I’m really late to the party but they are incredible and I can’t believe I never got into them earlier. They have a truly unique sound and original approach to music that always somehow sounds really English. I love the production on this track and the sax break is amazing, with a completely wild solo and sound.
Lover of the Bayou by The Bryds
I bought The Bryds’ Untitled album from a charity shop and didn’t really know what to expect as I was never a massive fan of the Tamborine Man era of birds – but this album is amazing and opens up with Love of Bayou recorded live. This was my introduction to Clarence White, who was the lead guitar player. You just need to listen to this track to understand why he is held in such high regard by guitar players.