CLIMBING TREES | MUSIC FEATURE
Since forming in 2011, the rise of countrified Pontypridd rock band Climbing Trees has been steady rather than meteoric, but it’s opened an impressive number of doors for them both locally and afar. As recently as October, for example, the four-piece travelled to New York to play their first three American gigs.
“We played our first show outside the UK in the Netherlands in spring, so to find ourselves in the Big Apple this autumn was another highlight of a pretty decent 2017!” says vocalist/pianist Matthew Frederick. “These are the kinds of shows we could only have dreamed about playing two or three years ago.”
Climbing Trees have dubbed their sound Cymrucana – the aesthetics of Americana coloured by their Welsh upbringings and surroundings, more or less – so the question of how actual Americans might react was a crucial one for the band. “Any time you play some place new, it’s almost like starting all over again,” says Frederick. “The crowd at each gig responded really well – I think our sound lends itself nicely to an American audience.”
The parallels between Pontypridd and the parts of the USA immortalised in country music are not lost on the band, either: class ructions, the legacy of mining and the smalltown mentality in general. “Graves, the lead track from our second album Borders, addresses that mentality,” notes Frederick. “A lot of people seem to have identified with it – everybody’s trying to find a way out, but home has a way of reeling you back in sometimes.”
Borders, which was released in summer 2016, has proved fertile for Climbing Trees: as well as propelling them across oceans and onto numerous festival bills, no less than five singles have been released from it. As such, the group are now looking to move onto what Frederick calls their “next phase” as a band, beginning to write a third album during 2018 after a period working on various solo projects. Before that, there’ll be a hometown Christmas gig, with The Moon Birds and Ofelia supporting. “Pardon the pun, but it should be a cracker!” says vocalist Matthew Frederick, Frank Carsonishly.
Climbing Trees, The Muni, Pontypridd, Sat 23 Dec. Tickets: £8. Info: 01443 490390 / www.muniartscentre.com
words FEDOR TOT