When you think of Record labels, New York and Los Angeles obvious spring to mind, yet one of the premier alternative record labels, Umbrella Tree Records, resides in the scenic hills of Asheville, North Carolina. A joint venture envisioned and directed by two college friends Patrick Willse and Michael Klatt, Umbrella Tree Records is a creative haven for alternative, eclectic and punk artists in Western North Carolina – many who have never had a release before. “The label was formed in September 2010 for the production of our debut compilation Natural Selections as an exercise in idealism and enterprise,” explains Patrick Willse. “The name, Umbrella Tree, comes from our old hang out spot back in college at Western Carolina University. The overarching 'why' behind forming the record company was due to the timing. Between Mike and I, we had the time, the will and the capital to produce a record and we'd both wanted to undertake that kind of project back in school, however lacked the infrastructure to do so at the time. The formation occurred as a necessity due to the fact that we were already several weeks into producing Natural Selections and desired legitimacy for ourselves and those we were already representing.”
On December 11, 2010 the boutique record label is preparing to issue their first CD release, Natural Selections: Sounds of Asheville's Indie Underground, a compilation of local punk and alternative bands. The release will include the Forty Furies, Grammer School, the Machiavillains, Solito, Balloon Wars, the Spandrels and Pallas Cats. The many different styles that permeate the CD correlate the richness and incredible variety that's all too often underappreciated due to the over-saturation of the local music scene. Represented styles could be described as power-pop, soul, chamber-pop, post-hardcore, post-punk, post-rock, math-rock, art-punk as well as many other genres come to mind, making this release as fun as it is prescient. Recorded locally at Anarchy Audio and locally mastered by J Ferris at Discfunctional Family Studio, the album has a warm lo-fi sound from the integration of key analog instruments used during the production process giving it a fluid consistency from track to track. With the release of Natural Selections, Umbrella Tree hopes to invigorate the region's indie music community and to instigate greater interest into these up and coming artists as well as this thriving music scene.
Since its inception spring 2007 in West Asheville, NC, the Forty Furies have sewn and cultivated a grass roots following that continues to expand. Audiophiles recognize many influences in our juggernaut stage performances and recorded material. Commonly described as Queens of the Stoneage, The Melvins, and Led Zeppelin, with a Hum twist, Forty Furies are all that and more. Thirty-one year old front-man Joshua Senn is joined by Michael Lott drums and Jed Holtvedt, consecrating a covenant of furious rock and sacrificed virgins.
Grammer school is made up of three friends who enjoy playing music and sharing it with others. While not confined to one sound or genre, the band is all about some rock and roll. Whether it's filtered through surf, dance, folk, or punk, it damn well better rock. The live shows are at the heart of the band's enjoyment of exploring songs and different ideas. With drums, guitar, and piano the Grammer School always tries to make music that is exciting, unique, and accessible. It’s always fun, always rocks, and it's always Grammer School.
Balloon Wars is a band whose nucleus is based around two brothers and a couple of their closest friends who are driven to make a simple music that speaks articulately and soulfully. Each member of the band contributes song material and vocals to the group, adding style and spice making this genre bending band one of the more particularly interesting new acts in Asheville to keep your eyes on.
Progressive punk/indie rock trio from Asheville, NC, the Machiavillains formed in the spring of 2009 consists of three friends Patrick - bass, Alex - drums and Brandon - guitars. Informed by the indie punk scene of the early eighties, early existential thought and South American poetry, the Machiavillains weave together a sound of passionate, intellectual post-hardcore.
Power trio from the back woods of the North Carolina Mountains. An interesting & groovy blend of rock, punk, grunge, and jazz. Shawna Solito - lead guitar/vocals influenced by Zappa, Neil Young, and early 80's punk. Cola Williamson - bass/vocals influenced by Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and hardcore. Moose - drums/vocals influenced by The Police, Iron Maiden, and Rush. All together is like a face peel on top of a mountain at noon.
The Pallas Cats were formed by songwriter Cyrus Atkins and bassist David Monroe recorded with JD Collette on drums. This project is the latest of feline creations from Cyrus and Dave. It trades the in your face hard rock reminiscent of 80s hair metal for a more spacious and cool harmonious sound heard through squealing feedback and driving bass.
The creation of Brian Southard, the Spandrels stands as an extreme in versatility when it comes to sound. Mixing many pop styles and textures together, the Spandrels create a kaleidoscopic soundscape that is as captivating and vicious. Dubbing the end product “chamber punk,” Brian’s use of instrumentation sets him apart from tradition punk and places him as a heavy-hitting innovator in his own right.
Just in time for this election cycle, the Muckrakers formed for the sole purpose of recording a song for Umbrella Tree Records’ release of Natural Selections. Made up of players somehow related to the recording of the compilation, a producer, the engineer, and Solito’s drummer the Muckrakers offer "The Keeper" as the final track to the album.
“The mantra of Umbrella Tree Records is to promote our friends who can use the help to get a level where they'd like to be,” explains Patrick Willse. “We'd like to be a springboard for our bands to move on to brighter and better things. In a town with so much talent and musical diversity, it makes for no small task, especially for a very young company such as ours. It’s a labor of love and we’re happy to do it.” The label listens to every submission sent to them. “We are listening to new bands as much as possible between gigs and studio work,” says Patrick. “Bands who wish to submit their work can do so by contacting us via the website.” Plans for releases such as a Balloon Wars EP, a Solito LP and a Machiavillains LP are currently in the works.
Natural Selections: A Germination of WNC Independent Rock Music CD is available through CD Baby and iTunes
For more information: www.