A&E » Arts

Firetree traipses West Coast

Group touring western Canada with debut EP The Space Between



Who: The Firetree

When: Saturday, Nov. 26, 9:30 p.m.

Where: Merlin's

Cost: Free!

Botany nerds may know a firetree as a type of bush that's indigenous to Australia. But that actually isn't the story behind this band's name.

"It was seen on a toilet door," Dale Buchan laughed. "It wasn't actually written together, but the drummer had seen 'The Fire' something written across the top of the door and then below it there was a tree drawn, and they were completely two different drawings, but he put them together and ran out of the toilet and said, 'I've got the name! It's The Firetree!' And once we heard it, we knew that was it, that was our name."

The Firetree is led by Buchan and Josephine Cubis, with Dan Sparks on the drums, Oliver Cubis (Josephine's brother) on lead electric guitar and Jesse Stanley on bass. Together, they've managed to cultivate a pretty distinct sound, coupling a natural indie folk flair with rock undertones.

"Myself and Jesse always played kind of more folk, acoustic stuff back when we'd first started - we've been touring and playing together for a couple years now," Buchan explained. "And the band, I guess the bass player has a lot of funk and roots, and the drummer and guitarist played a lot more heavier rock in the previous bands they were in, and we just kind of combined the sounds."

Australia's The Firetree just recently released their debut EP, The Space Between , which features four catchy and upbeat tracks: Tame, Sun and Moon, Lay Down and Time Flies. The inspiration behind their lyrical content ranges from love and life to the state of society.

"It's just a lot about our point of view on how we see the world, I guess. There's some love songs on there with Sun and Moon. Tame is about not quite fitting into society and kind of questioning what's going on and how we work in this world, and how society works. And then there's Lay Down, which is just another alternative love story about being a musician, I guess... And Time Flies is just about living each moment to the fullest and enjoying life as much as possible. You know, time flies by so kick your feet up and dance!"

It's pretty clear that a lot of thought and effort goes into their songwriting, which is mainly done by Buchan and Josephine.

"We both write songs, but sometimes we kind of come together and write something. But most of the time, Josie actually usually pens a whole song and then I kind of put a bit of input into it, and see where I can fit in there. She keeps to herself when she's writing a song."

Late last week, the group was making their way towards Penticton and Osooyos on their first Canadian tour, promoting The Space Between , and listening to little bits of everything along the way: Mars Volta (prog rock), Incubus (rock), The Killers (alt-rock), The Flobots (an alterna rock/rap group), Eminem (rap) and even a few of their own tracks, just for fun.

"We were just looking at all of Canada when we first started kind of planning the tour. We had a few friends who had been over here - Kim Churchill, who I believe played up at Whistler, too, on his tour - and they all raved about how good the whole of Canada was and the response they got."

Plus, they thought their sound would fit in well on the West Coast music scene. It seems like they might have been right; all of the venues they've played, so far, have asked them to return during the summer, so The Firetree is making plans to hit Canada in a bigger way next year.

"I think we all want to move here after being here for three weeks," Buchan laughed.

Based out of Byron Bay, Australia, the band is pretty accustomed to beautiful scenery.

"We love Byron. We're recording our album at 301 Studios in Byron, and we love hanging out in Byron Bay. It's one of the best places in Australia, we think. But we're starting to think that B.C. might be the other 'best place in the world.'"

It seems like their first trip to British Columbia has made quite an impression.

"We're just loving B.C. at the moment, loving the Canadian response we've been getting and how friendly and warm they've been to us, and we've just seen the snow for the first time - we've been up in Kamloops - so that's been fantastic!"

Whistler is actually the last stop on this tour, hoping to build some momentum for the release of their first full-length album early next year. And while most bands would be a bit worn out at this point, The Firetree promises that the last live show on this tour will offer as much energy and excitement as the first.

"Our recordings are actually a lot more mellow to our live sound. We've been described as a 'more muscular' live sound than our recordings are. So we like to rock out and we put touches of harder rock, even a bit of reggae, and even a bit of hip hop in there. We like to mix it up and get people dancing for our live shows, and make it exciting."

They even like to throw in a few covers from groups like the Talking Heads, Gorillas and Sublime to get the crowd singing along.

"We like to get into it and rock out, and make it a big night."

When they get back to Oz, they'll be touring down the East Coast in January, before heading to Germany in May and releasing their as-yet-unnamed debut LP on the masses early next year. Who knows, maybe they'll find the inspiration for the album name on the back of a bathroom stall, right here in Whistler.