Last year, brothers Baron and Jason Harper dropped out of Scattered Trees, leaving behind three bandmates: Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing. The departure of the Harpers came at a weird moment, as Scattered Trees had already booked studio time with producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos!). But instead of cancelling, the trio left standing regrouped, formed a new band called ON AN ON and headed to the studio in Toronto to record what would become its debut album.
The result is Give In, a 10-track LP about life and death whose musical core of big and fuzzy electric guitar, a foregrounded rhythm section and Eiesland’s breathy tenor is blanketed in warm electronics. The debut album from bassist Estwing, keyboardist Ricci and her husband, guitarist/vocalist Eiesland—with session drummer Tony Nesbitt-Larking—comes out January 29 on Roll Call, and ahead of the release, I sent a few questions over to Estwing about Scattered Trees’ breakup, working with Newfeld and the meaning behind the Give In album title. Read his answers below.
What happened to Scattered Trees?
Five band members living in different cities came to be too difficult, which eventually led us to moving on.
In a matter of three weeks, you ended one band, started another and were ready to hit the studio with producer Dave Newfeld. Why did you decide to carry on with recording as scheduled instead of taking a break?
We had booked studio time before Scattered Trees dissolved, and when the band ended, three of us still wanted to create something. Starting a new project was the most creatively exciting decision we could make.
Were the songs you recorded with him originally meant for Scattered Trees’ session, or were these mostly new songs?
We had worked on a few of the songs with Scattered Trees, and once we got into the studio, we started dismantling them with the context of starting a new band. The majority of the songs on Give In were ones we never worked on with Scattered Trees but were still in demo form, so we did a lot of writing in the studio.
What sort of guidance did Newfeld give to you in the studio? Did he push you to try new sounds?
Newfeld is a mad genius. His guidance was less about new sounds and more about new perspectives on how to make a record.
Was it weird going into the studio with only three versus five? Any immediate differences?
I think fewer opinions ended up helping the process. All three of us trust each other and trust Dave, so the creative environment was really healthy.
Why did you call this album ‘Give In’? Were you succumbing to anything in particular?
Giving in was another way of saying don’t give up.