Lost in the Trees was FiTi’s favorite new band of 2010, and the group’s ANTI- debut, All Alone In An Empty House, was a strong contender for our favorite album of the year. We were bummed to miss the band’s headlining date at TT’s this fall, but with LITT coming back to town this Thursday to open for Neko Case at the Wilbur (tickets here) we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with mastermind Ari Picker about his studies at Berklee, the pending re-release of the band’s Time Taunts Me EP and his experiences touring with such a large ensemble.
You still have some work to do at Berklee to complete your degree. Any plans to do that this year, or is that indefinitely on hold at this point?
Very much so. I’ll be heading back this summer to finish another semester, then I’ll have only one more left! I’d like to get a masters at some point, but I’m not sure what kind yet. I’ve been think about studying other things besides music – perhaps farming, fitness or beer brewing.
What do you miss most about living in Boston? What spots do you try and hit whenever you’re back in town?
I’m not really a city person, so I can’t say I miss living in Boston – I’d rather visit. I did like going out to Walden Pond, and some of the food there was good – the Other Side restaurant was a fav.
You’ve described All Alone In An Empty House as being a therapeutic record. Has playing these songs for an audience night after night changed your relationship with them at all?
Writing the record was therapeutic, but playing the record live every night is a completely different experience. It’s not that the songs are less powerful, but they are coming from a different place. It’s fun playing music with my band and enjoying the experience everyone is having!
Though ANTI- just released the “polished” version of the album in August, the material goes back a bit. Will you stay on the road supporting this album for a while, or are you anxious to get back into the studio and continue working on new songs?
I’m very eager to go into the studio as I’ve got a lot of the new album already written. Having this extra time to write as much as I can before going into the studio will make the new record that much better.
In the meantime, on Feb. 1 you’re releasing an expanded, re-recorded version of your Time Taunts Me EP on your old label, Trekky. What inspired you to revisit that material at this point?
Both the original versions of Empty House and Time Taunts Me were recorded before I had a band, so none of the material ever got played live. Once the band formed, the material evolved a lot and I liked the songs too much to not go back and help out the recordings a bit. I don’t think I’m ever satisfied with my records, but I’ll keep trying!
You’ve spent an awful lot of time on the road over the last year, and a relatively new band of this size and makeup must be constantly evolving under those circumstances. Are you surprised at all by the directions that you’ve been moving in musically, or at the changes in the band dynamic?
I think my music could benefit from being unhinged a bit, and the chaos of touring with so many people and dealing with so many upside down scenarios may help this. I’m very proud of the live band and how we’ve adapted to the road and performing every night.
It has to be a bit of a challenge to tour with such a large ensemble, especially as a young band with a limited budget. How do you all stay sane on tour and continue to get along so well?
Getting this band tour ready took about 2 years and a revolving cast of about 30 people. It has taken a lot of guts from those still in the band to drop their lives and dedicate 100% to the project. I suppose we all balance each other out in some strange way. Everyone has kept their heads on very well, but if it becomes too unhealthy, then we’ll take a break.
Lost in the Trees opens for Neko Case at the Wilbur Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 3 (tickets) and at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton on Feb. 4 (tickets). You can order the expanded, re-recorded re-release of Time Taunts Me on vinyl + CD + digital download via Trekky Records.