“Treefarm is a band that is not supposed to exist,” joked Greg Stasiw ’15.
Indeed, the band name was originally the invention of a friend, who used it as a litmus test to see how willing people at parties were willing to lie in order to sound in the know.
Now a real band, Treefarm is comprised of Stasiw, Ryan Fowler ’15, Evan Montilla ’17 and Sky Monaco ’16.
Since their debut performance last spring, Treefarm has been snatching up every opportunity to perform. Just this week, they played at Jamnesty on Wednesday and the Bowdoin Music Collective Showcase at Jack Magee’s Pub and Grill last night.
Treefarm was formed almost on accident. Monaco and Stasiw began playing together in a Smith practice room after their Japanese literature class last fall. The two also sometimes played with Sam Seda ’15 and Sam Roberts ’14, but neither of the two wanted a full-time band commitment. That’s when they found Fowler.
“Greg found me alone in a room and started bothering me,” recalled Fowler.
“I don’t see it as bothering,” said Stasiw. “Ryan looked sad and alone.”
Montilla joined the band in a similarly happenstance fashion, running into Monaco and Stasiw one night on campus. The two liked his sound and asked him to come sing with them.
Each band member brings his own unique experience with music to the stage.
“My mom studied music in London and my dad had a really good ear for music,” said Montilla. “My mom was the one who trained me on classical guitar, piano and viola. I played in a country band and a punk band and I picked up banjo.” He also sings in Ursus Versus.
Most of Treefarm’s members learned music with their parents, but are now looking to play in a new group atmosphere.
“It’s great to have friends to play music with. I just fell into it and it’s great to play with other people,” said Monaco.
“And you guys are actually good,” said Fowler.
The group spends at least five hours a week practicing together and performs a mixture of covers and original songs, lately emphasizing their own work.
“We all write our songs on the side, bring it in as a skeleton and flesh it out together,” said Fowler.
“I never played in a band before so Treefarm is teaching me how to use drums as not just a rhythm thing but as a texture thing,” said Stasiw. “I’m learning what it takes to make a song.”
“We’ve all really improved,” said Monaco. “We’re learning together.”
The band has a fluidity that makes them sound just a little different each time they play. Though Monaco is usually on guitar, Fowler on bass, Stasiw on drums and Montilla on lead vocals, Monaco and Fowler each take turns leading the band musically. These flexible roles—combined with the variety of songs they play—give the band a sound that can be hard to describe.
“We’re bluesy, not too poppy, and a little bit ambient,” said Stasiw. “[Assistant Professor of Music] Tracy McMullen compared us to Cream.”
“We kind of sound like The Kooks and The Black Keys sometimes,” said Montilla.
Treefarm says they are influenced by a number of artists and bands. On campus, the group looks up to bands Phar\os and the NARPs.
“I’m glad the music scene at Bowdoin is coming together,” said Stasiw.
“And I’m glad we’re in it,” added Monaco.
Treefarm’s most memorable performances so far include making it to the final round of Battle of the Bands, as well as performing at Quinby’s ’80s Party this fall.
“At the ’80s party, seeing people dance to our stuff for the first time was awesome,” said Fowler.
Treefarm hopes to continue drawing in new audiences that will keep coming back to hear their original songs, and plans to participate in the Battle of the Bands again next semester.
“Our goal is having as much fun as possible,” said Monaco.