Had a great chat with Scottish guitarist and singer Matthew Rochford about his solo project Abrasive Trees and the process that led him to where he is now. A man of many collaborations, Matthew has put his fingers in many productions over the years, contributing to records from RISE and Talitha Rise with Jo Beth Young, collaborating with Rothko as well as being a member in the post-punk bands Council of Giants and The Impossible Moon.
For his latest effort with Abrasive Trees, the 3-track single Bound For An Infinite Sea, he called back on some of the “favours” from industry pals and got an array of talents to play on this record, including Jo Beth Young (RISE/Talitha Rise), Steven Hill (Evi Vine), Mark Parsons (Eat Lights Become Lights)
and Matthew’s brother, Sebastian (Polar Bear/Pulled By Magnets).
Bound For An Infinite Sea was mixed and mastered by Mark Beazley (Rothko/The Band Of Holy Joy).
Rochford said about the release:
“These songs are a bit dark, but there’s also a positive energy behind them. In essence they are about the importance of staying compassionate – whatever the circumstances. The title track is actually about witnessing suffering and finding a way to be empowered to do something meaningful in the face of sorrow. There is so much intensity in this world and it can get a bit overwhelming can’t it? I wrote
and recorded these three songs amidst loss so there’s heartbreak, but also something hopeful and spiritual that I hope will connect with how others might be feeling right now.”
Get lost in the hypnotic video for the title track Bound For An Infinite Sea:
Listen to his Abrasive Trees 3-track single Bound For An Infinite Sea while you read the interview below.
Here’s our chat with Matthew aka Abrasive Trees:
Hi Matthew, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. We are really
happy we found your tracks on Musosoup. I have been listening to the three tracks quite a bit in the last few days and I keep finding different layers in your dark atmospheres. Truly enjoyed this
release! We are very pleased to be chatting with you about your music so let’s start…
…please tell us a bit more about your musical journey, when and how you started getting
involved with music? We know you have been playing in a lot of projects but please give our
readers a bit of background on Abrasive Trees.
What was the first music you bought/downloaded?
When I was a young teenager I was really into heavy rock and listened to Rainbow and
Gillan and this gradually evolved into listening to Kraftwerk and then a lot of post-punk and
gothic rock bands such as The Cult, The Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.
What was your favourite artist/band as a child?
As a child my mother played a lot of jazz, Stevie Wonder and the Carpenters. I think I loved
the Carpenters most out of all of that. I hated jazz then. Now I actually appreciate it.
First song you learnt how to play?
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
What are your main influences now? Is there a particular artist or an album that inspired you
more than others?
It’s hard to say, I listen to so much, but I really love She Past Away, Evi Vine, Dead Can
Dance, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Agnes Obel.
Tell us a bit more about this release ‘Bound for an Infinite Sea’. How come you have
released this as a 3 track single? We loved how the 3 songs worked perfectly together but
wondering how did it come about? Also curious to know if the creative process has been
different from other projects you have been involved in the past.
I originally wanted to create an album, and will do that, but doing a couple of singles first
seemed like a good idea – especially as I hadn’t done a solo project before. At the heart of
Abrasive Trees is the freedom to experiment and the ability to express myself in a relatively
unfiltered way. When you are in a band the process is completely different – it’s more about
finding a way to work together, gel and connect in a way that is relatively disciplined. It’s
tough being in band – but very rewarding and you learn a lot. This project was more about
me being free to create a feeling and atmosphere in the music that I couldn’t quite achieve
being in Council of Giants for example. Also, since working with Jo-Beth Young (since 2018)
the way I approached music changed a lot. The way she facilitates her music both live and
in the studio was a big eye-opener for me and it made me believe that I could do Abrasive
Trees in a way that I was really happy with. Don’t get me wrong – being in a band that share
the songwriting and arrangement is amazing and something I’ll always want to do – but
doing a solo project satisfies a whole other area of the soul. The other part of the journey was
knowing other incredibly gifted and wonderful people that supported the process and agreed
to play on these initial recordings with me – Steven (Evi Vine), Sebastian (my beautiful
brother who’s latest project Pulled By Magnets is truly amazing), Mark Parsons (formerly of
Eat Lights Become Lights), Jo-Beth Young and Mark Beazley (from the legendary
ROTHKO). Working with all of them really inspired, encouraged and lifted me whilst taking
the whole project to a new level.
Is not as if anyone asked us but, FYI, our favourite out of the 3 songs is Brother Saint, we
loved the title track but this one has really got to us. The sound is just perfect.
Thanks – I love that song and it was very spontaneous, totally unplanned and has a special
place in my heart too.
We worked at an online festival a few weeks back and it was great to be on a “festival” site after so long but speaking with the musicians we could sense there were mixed feelings on this and on the right mindset needed to play just in front of a couple of cameras for an online audience… what do you think about this? Did you get much involved with live streaming during these past few months?
I’ve given this so much thought. It’s a horrible time for everyone at the moment and
musicians have pretty much had their careers taken away from them. I feel so sad about it
sometimes. Last year I played at several festivals, and played some very special sets with
Jo-Beth and Council of Giants. It was amazing. I miss playing live so much and going to
gigs. I was thinking about doing a livestream gig, and I may well do, but I decided to focus
on these recordings and leave the livestream thing until the end of this year and possibly do
some actual gigs next spring (fingers crossed). Evi and Steven (Evi Vine) did a couple of
livestreams during lockdown that were very special and powerful. I can see how they can
work and it’s important that we support artists financially as best we can through livestreams.
I think there’s a lot of potential for creating amazing experiences through the internet. I’m
working with a film-maker and excited to see where that will take us – a lot of my music
could work well with film, so we’ve talked about some kind of special experience that might
be available as a pay to view event.
This is something we ask pretty much everyone we know, not just during the interviews… we are massive lovers of movie soundtracks, what is your favourite movie soundtrack? And what existing movie would you like to recreate (or even just curate) a new soundtrack for?
Wow, what a great question. I love the soundtracks for Requiem For A Dream and Uncut
Gems and would love to do something like that.
Free question – please ask yourself a question that you have always wanted to get asked. Could be a question about your future plans, or a statement or just a story you’d like to share with us and our readers:
Where would you like to be in your music career in twelve months time?
I’d love to see Abrasive Trees doing a few small tours each year, have a reasonable place at
some festivals and have a really great album completed. My ambition is definitely to have a
small dedicated group of listeners/supporters that make the whole thing enjoyable and
Before we let you go, can you recommend us and our readers a couple of great new bands/artists you are into at the moment? Someone local maybe.
Sure! Last year I discovered a new band called Fusea that I listened to a lot and was lucky
enough to see play live in Totnes, in the UK, where I live. I can also recommend Sebastian
Swarm – who’s done a remix of Bound For An Infinite Sea. He’s very talented and based in Glasgow.
Thanks so much for your time and looking forward to hearing more music from you soon.
Follow Abrasive Trees at the links below:
Email list: https://www.abrasivetrees.com/email-sign-up.html
Spotify, Deezer, Tidal etc: https://ditto.fm/bound-for-an-infinite-sea