Aiming for the Tree Tops
By Colleen Jurkiewicz
News Graphic Correspondent
Local rock band, Life in a Tree, is working on their third album
It's going to be a busy summer for Molly Lutz, Tyler Miller, DJ Underwood, Jimmy Cooper and Andrew Conley. While most of their peers will be focusing on part-time jobs and catching up on sleep, the five incoming high school seniors – who together comprise local alternative band Life in a Tree – will be juggling a packed performance schedule that includes gigs at some of the state’s most prestigious music festivals.
Though their summer will be plenty busy, their off-season has been rather remarkable, too. Life in a Tree has been riding a high since their recent Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) nomination as Rising Stars in April, and the group – whose members are all Grafton High School students except for Conley, the newest addition, who attends Homestead – recently released a lyric video for their song “Circles.” This video, like many of their seven previous ones, was directed by 2013 GHS graduate and current cinematic arts student Brady Palubiski.
And though they relish performing, the teens are also looking forward to getting back into the studio for the recording of their third – yes, their third – album.
“Any time we can get back in the studio, it’s exciting,” said Cooper, who plays drums. “It seems like it’s going to be a very fun process.”
Songwriting is an intensely collaborative process for the band, who have penned 15 all-new tracks for their upcoming album. The band’s diverse musical interests contribute to the eclectic vibe of their music. Cooper cites Glenn Miller and the big band music of the 1940s as a major influence, while Lutz enjoys listening to alternative rock and indie pop. Conley is a Pink Floyd fan, Miller favors punk bands and hardcore, and Underwood is a devotee of classic rock.
“We all kind of have our own thing to bring, depending on what influenced us,” said Underwood, who plays guitar. “It kind of actually falls together really nicely.”
The band has been such a positive experience for all five members that they say they hope to keep the group together during college. It would be a natural extension for the young musicians, who will celebrate their fourth anniversary as a band in December. Ideally, said Miller, they would love to find a college to attend together.
“DJ and I have played guitar together since second grade ... we’ve been together for so long, I think we could definitely all go to a music school individually, but I don’t think it would ever be the same,” said Miller, guitarist and vocalist for the band. “We know each other so well.”
Including their fourth appearance at Summerfest on the Briggs and Stratton Stage July 4, Life in a Tree can also be seen performing at Strawberry Fest, Family Fun Before the Fourth, the Giro d’ Grafton, Bastille Days, Steel Bridge Songfest and the Wisconsin State Fair.
But the kids are enthusiastic about their busy summer – they have to make hay while the sun shines.
“It’s hard for every band our age – it’s kind of the off-season during the winter because we’re not old enough to play in bars!” said Lutz.