BANDSPEAK, BOSTON/NE BANDS, Music

An interview w/ Worcester’s SAPLING

by

Photo credit: Coleman Rogers

Sapling have been one of my favorite Massachusetts bands for about 5 years. Although I have played many shows with them, there was a lot about this incredible I didn’t know…until now. Ladies and germs, the secrets of the Sapling universe are now revealed!

HASSLE:
Who is in the band and what do they play

Rainy:
I mostly play bass and sing but I occasionally do a bit of drums and percussion or hit a note on the synth, mostly for recording. I’m really thinking about learning keys/piano though. I’ve got the hand independence thing down but it’s just so many little targets to hit at once…

Amber:
I tend to refer to myself as the mistress of noize and the thereminister. Most of the time I am on guitar and share vocal duties with Rainy but I also play the theremin or whatever other wacky thing I can incorporate. I am usually the one adding the ‘extras.’ Ambient noise, discordance, hooks, and beep boops are my main focus. Musically I am never trying to ‘fit in’ and am constantly trying to find out what I can get away with. I live by the philosophy “no one can tell you you’re doing it wrong if they have no idea what you are doing.”

Jon:
I play drums in the band! For live I’m mostly behind the kit but I record us on occasion and like to collect sounds with Amber’s field recorder and bang on our oil drum for extraneous noises.

HASSLE:
Who are you calling a sapling? Who came up with the name?

Rainy:
I can’t believe no one’s ever asked us this! Aren’t people curious about band names anymore? Basically I was just wracking my brain for single-word or short names that would work while also trying to think of something that implied a fresh start after my previous band Rotating Strawberry Madonna ended. There may have also been a short person joke in there too.

 

HASSLE:
Where is everyone from and how did you get here?

Rainy:
Central Mass, though I was living in Somerville for one year of the band. I get most places via Toyota Camry or delusions of grandeur.

Amber:
I am from Worcester MA and I have no idea how I got here. Where am I?

Jon:
I live in Allston! I think someone clapped my heels while I was asleep and now I’m here. Never wear red shoes to bed.

HASSLE:
What are some other projects the members are involved in?

Rainy:
Jon and I are both in Service (https://linktr.ee/ServiceBoston) except I’m on drums there and he plays guitar. I play drums in Eye Witness (eyewitness.bandcamp.com) and periodically get wrapped up in various short term projects. I’ve released a bit of solo crap as Hang Lorraine (hanglorraine.bandcamp.com). No, my name is not actually Lorraine.

Amber:
Oh man, where do I even begin? Besides Sapling, I occasionally make some solo stuff, will guest track on things and like to score the videos I produce. I would really like to get more into scoring, foley work and stuff like that. Musically this is my only consistent group project because it is the one I want to put most of my focus on/have time for, but as a full time artist (www.toiletfireart.com) I am constantly creating and collaborating. I am like an acrobat juggling lemons while riding a unicycle on a tight-rope over a tank full of sharks with no safety net.

Jon:
As mentioned, I play guitar in Service! I also play guitar in Lunar Throne and drums in Lazer Reef. I’ve also been delving into recording more and did the latest Sapling demo and have some Lazer Reef songs in the works. I’m also designing a mic pre-amp from scratch using transistors.

HASSLE:
Thoughts on Boston music scene?

Rainy:
I’ve lost the plot, to be honest. I think I’m waiting to see if this post-covid period is really POST-covid and get a feel for which venues make it out and who’s still gonna be gigging. I’m really hoping to see a resurgence of solid DIY spaces, also. I think a lot of us are fed up with so much of what, where, and when we play being dictated by 1. alcohol (i.e. most things have to be 21+) and 2. the expectation of having to keep music going until 12:30 AM because that’s what the bars want. How many people actually prefer to have more than three bands on a bill? I wanna see numbers.

Jon:
I’m also hoping to see a resurgence in DIY spaces. I love certain venues, but DIY spaces have always been where it’s at. So many venues have closed due to Covid, but so many new musical projects have popped up and we’ll always find ways to perform.

HASSLE:
What do you think you sound like? Is it different from what other people think (you sound like)?

Rainy:
How should we know, Eric??? I mean, we call ourselves bitchpop and art rock. Then of course we’ve been nominated for “best punk” in both the Worcester and Boston Music Awards because I guess there’s nowhere else to put us. That category has always made me a little uncomfortable because I just imagine these Boston hardcore guys being nominated against us like “how the fuck did they get here?” haha. I think the way we write our songs just inherently leads to a lot of contrast and genre-fuckery. If Amber’s coming in with something it’s probably a two-or-three chord riff with a lot of distortion that I’m gonna chop up structure-wise, but then I come to practice with the melodic bass parts and no plan, so Amber just goes full ham with whatever instrument she brought that day.

HASSLE:
What were you trying to do when the band started and has that focus shifted much since then?

Rainy:
Damn, I dunno. What are we doing? I think for me it’s just an outlet for writing and performing songs and a home for whatever other weird ideas we come up with. Sapling is our playground. I’ve always been a drummer first so Rotating Strawberry Madonna was the first band I ever fronted and really wrote for. Sapling is like a continuation of that except I’m better at bass, vocals, and writing now and I’ve got Amber. I don’t think I could ever write with a normal person after this. As for a current focus, I don’t think anything has changed. We do what we want and it stops there. We say no to a lot of shows not because we think we’re hot shit but because we just only play the ones we’re really feeling. I refuse to put us on Spotify because something I’ve created isn’t going to be content for a billion-dollar corporation for whom ethics are optional. If fewer people hear us, fewer people hear us. Bandcamp is just a click away, my dudes. It’s good to be in your mid-thirties and already not expect to make money this way. You can just do whatever the fuck you want.

Amber:
When we first started Sapling I had no idea what I was doing. It was like Rainy fed me once and I just never left. I had spent so long feeling like this outcast because I never really wanted to try to fit in with what most people’s rigid idea of what music is. I was always a little too weird, a little too bold or a little too crass for most. Then Sapling began and I was like, “hey is it cool if I just bang on this piano and yell about goats while I break stuff?”

Jon:
I was trying to walk down the street minding my own business when a van pulled up and next thing I know I was behind a drum kit at SCATV in Somerville and now I’m their drummer.

HASSLE:
And now you know the rest of the story. Listen to Sapling right now!

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