Interview With Sascha Blach (vocals, guitar)
What was the beginning pint for your music career? How did it all start?
Well, my musical career began when I was around 10 years old and had a lot of fun beating up on instruments like drums (which I couldn’t really play) and acoustic guitars (which I couldn’t play either) and screaming my own lyrics. I recorded everything with a tape recorder. I think it was good that these recordings were kept under lock and key, but it makes it clear that I had a need to record myself early on. The Halo Trees was formed about 25 years and various bands and albums later, because I had a great desire for melancholy rock music with deep vocals. That was 4 or 5 years ago …
Was there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?
Oh yeah. First of all, for many months that turned into years, I sat in my home studio writing songs and fine-tuning the sound that I had in mind. In retrospect, the first songs were still pretty immature. But while I had many years of experience in metal, for example, and that music was easy for me, the music of The Halo Trees was uncharted territory for me. I still remember that at the end of each song there were at least 20 mix versions. And there were over 20 songs. Do the math yourself. The result was the EP “Time And Tide Wait For No Man” (2018) and the album “Antennas To The Sky” (2019). Since then I have known better what I can achieve and how, so that our new album “Summergloom” came about faster. Those were the musical stumbling blocks … I’d rather not start with those in the music industry …
What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?
There wasn’t that one moment. I guess the joy of writing a great new song that I hum to myself all day is like getting high. I always enjoy that very much. That’s what drives me.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
We play somber, melancholic indie rock, which, in addition to guitar and synths, is also characterized by a concise bass, drums with lots of toms and violin. I guess our influences range from post punk to prog rock to pop. We make music that not only catches your ears quickly, but that can also be easily heard through headphones, as there is always something new to discover. The press has already compared us to artists like David Bowie, The National, Nick Cave and Lambchop.
What is your creative process like?
I sit down in my studio and get started. In the end, I often don’t even know how I came up with all these things. It just happens. Like a musical meditation. The mind is often turned off. A good song works ‘stripped down’, but The Halo Trees also live from the production. And that’s were other musicians come into play. Like our drummer Stefan. We just need that warm, earthy sound that gives the deep vocals a lot of space. And while the songwriting is always very fast, the production often takes many months in which a lot of fine-tuning happens – to the point where nobody but me can hear a difference (laughs).
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
Where should I start? I grew up in a time when the album format had great value and you still had to go to the store to buy CDs or LPs. Okay, there were mail order companies too, but you had to order from a catalog (laughs). Since we didn’t have that much money, we listened to each album up and down until they became part of you. Okay, we also recorded albums on tape for each other. I also sent my first releases on tape to fanzines by post. Today the business has changed completely and you can see that in a positive light. As a consumer, it is practical that the entire world of music is present at the push of a button. As a musician, it’s great that music technology has become so cheap and practicable and that making music is possible for everyone – even without a large studio budget. And as a musician it is also practical that you can theoretically reach the whole world via social media. But in practice the algorithms make it very difficult for the small bands if they don’t invest huge amounts of money. And the oversupply saturates people to such an extent that many are no longer looking for new bands, but rather listen to the things they know. So democratization is turning more and more into a monopoly. But in the end we have to live with the circumstances and make the best of it.
If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?
Be humble and don’t rely on others, because in the end it is seldom the case that someone else makes you famous. The music world is full of promises, but it has always made the most sense for us to take things into our own hands. It is still like that today, which is why everything is DIY, from production to artwork and videos to label work. Of course, this is not for everyone, but I don’t think it works without a certain amount of discipline, diligence and the will to constantly learn in different areas. Because the golden 80s, when the million-dollar budgets were just bogus among the rock stars, are over.
What has been the best performance of your career so far?
Difficult question. We only played a few shows with The Halo Trees, because then Corona came and everything was closed. I can’t single out a single show, but it’s always most impressive when a synergy develops between bands and audience that turns into magic. You don’t even think about anything anymore, you just are in the moment. Unfortunately, it always passes too quickly.
If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?
I would live out my creativity in other areas. Probably as an author. I’ve already published a couple of books. But at some point there wasn’t enough time for everything and that’s why I’ve preferred recording albums to writing books in recent years. Maybe that will change again in old age. But basically being a musician doesn’t exclude other things anyway …
What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?
We’re releasing our second album “Summergloom” on October 8th. An important aspect of the composition was that we wanted to make the music more interesting and less predictable so that there is more to discover beneath the surface. The song structures have also become a bit more unconventional in parts and here and there we also experiment with crooked beats. But that’s more like the seasoning, because we’re not a prog band, but indie rock with a slightly dark touch. Therefore it is in the foreground that the songs have a warm, melancholic mood, the grooves sit and the melodies are catchy. The album is a lot about the conflict between humans and technology – that the world is getting more and more complicated and one longs for a simple … I’ll say … sunshine world. It is available as cd, digital release and as vinyl (by the end of the year).
To get an impression, search us on Spotify or Bandcamp or check out our new videos:
Leave No Fear
Dark Clouds Over London
Thanks for the interview and take care!