For treesreach’s Dillon Rairdin, it was time to branch out in life.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa indie rock vocalist and multi-instrumentalist left his humdrum day job in September 2020 and opted to pursue music full-time.
“The only turmoil that was going on in that job was in me. The people I worked with for the most part were really great. It was a good company, but what was going on was this feeling of complete discontentment,” said Rairdin, who previously worked for a law firm.
“It was the weirdest spot to be in because it wasn’t so bad that it was obvious I needed to quit, but it also wasn’t fulfilling in any way. And in the middle of that, I was trying to find contentment with where I was.”
Rairdin and his treesreach bandmates, guitarist Riley Thurm and drummer Luke Long, deeply explore that mindset on their latest contemplative single, “How It Seems.”
Throughout “How It Seems,” ticking cymbals, trotting drums, vibrant electric guitar, humming bass and tender acoustic guitar beckon Rairdin to uproot his professional life and grow in a new direction.
He sings, “But that song that you’ve been making/Gets stuck in my head from time to time/Like a dream/I’ll follow where it takes me/‘Cause if I stay I’m wasting time/At least that’s how it seems.”
“It was in a really awkward kind of spot that I think a lot of people were in with their jobs,” said Rairdin about the band’s “Great Resignation-themed” track.
“From what I’ve heard, it wasn’t so bad that you wanted to quit, but it was like, ‘Man, I know that I’m meant for something better,’ whether that was in a destiny sense or being in a place that utilized your strengths. I think taking a step away from that job was the right thing to do.”
Once Rairdin embarked on his new “Great Resignation” journey, treesreach started recording drums for “How It Seems” last winter in Rairdin’s parents’ basement and later finalized it in their new home studio.
Mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Ryan Freeland, the track provides a refreshing sonic growth spurt for the band, who traded their previous lush sound for a new indie rock approach.
“Ryan just seemed really gung-ho about the song, and he really dug it. Usually, we mix all of our own stuff, but we knew with ‘How It Seems’ that we had potential for some success beyond what we’ve seen before,” Rairdin said. “The song is way more pop-accessible than anything else we’ve written, and we just really felt better handing it off to a Grammy Award winner.”
“How It Seems” serves as treesreach’s first new material since releasing their introspective EP, Galaxies Away, in December 2020. At the time, they focused on a scintillating short body of work that emphasized their insightful songwriting and cinematic production.
“We were actually about to record the EP we’re working on now, but the weekend we were going to record it in a studio was the weekend of the shutdown,” Rairdin said. “We tabled all these songs, and we had that summer where everyone was home and had nothing to do. We were like, ‘Let’s each write a song and feature ourselves prominently on it somehow.’”
Rairdin’s contribution includes the proggy, funky opener, “7 Miles Under,” which fuses minimal lyrics with dreamy instrumentation and expansive production.
“Having just come from ‘Wisconsin’ and ‘Getting Used to Getting By,’ I wanted nothing to do with really intense lyricism. I just want to write something funky as hell that made me think of Herbie Hancock-meets-Madison Cunningham,” Rairdin said.
After Rairdin’s “7 Miles Under,” Long seamlessly segues into a soulful, jazzy and folky feel on “IYNF (In case You Need Freedom),” which provides extra breathing room in a serious relationship.
“‘IYNF’ is about the girl I’m happily getting married to in the next couple months,” Long said. “The first time we dated … it was about what was wrong with our relationship that would cause her to sometimes have a panic attack. I was like, ‘I don’t want you to panic. I just want you to tell me when you’re feeling off about something.’”
treesreach continues to explore those relationship challenges on Thurm’s melodic, drifty closer, “Redshift,” as soaring instrumentation and orchestral production bob alongside his soothing vocals.
“‘Redshift’ is inspired by that same girl getting on a sailboat,” Long said. “We had gotten back together, and then had broken up again. Part of the story is that she had bought her own sailboat and was going to live on that for some time. That’s what inspired Riley’s lyrics for ‘Redshift.’”
Live Broadcast and ‘Some Night …’
As native Iowans, treesreach started planting their musical foundation and honing their growing sound in 2010. Originally called Live Broadcast, the band featured Rairdin and Thurm with another drummer.
“I had a different friend in high school who kept trying to convince me to come to his youth group. And I hated youth group because the church I was going to … it was always just really uncomfortable, and I didn’t really have any friends there,” Rairdin said.
“There was a youth group happening (another) time at a house that was up the street from mine. I was hanging out, and I was quickly making friends with people. I started talking about Muse because I was really into The Resistance at the time. Then, this really short kid with a Rubik’s Cube and cargo jeans walked over and said, ‘Hey, Are you talking about Muse?’”
That initial Muse inquiry led Rairdin and Thurm to play music together and form Live Broadcast. Four years and three albums later, Long officially joined the band after their previous drummer had moved to Alabama.
“I think there was a moment where both of them were like, ‘Wait, Luke’s here. Why don’t we ask him to join the band?’” said Long, who also played drums and guitar intermittently with the band before becoming an official member.
With Long onboard as the new drummer, the band started playing at bars throughout Iowa and revisited their original Live Broadcast moniker. Long suggested the band adopt a new name before releasing their ambitious double album, Some Night You Will Hear Me Crowing, in 2018.
“When Luke joined the band, we still had this album awkwardly sitting around, and we wanted to release it because we liked the songs, but the sound just did not represent us at all,” Rairdin said. “We realized we needed to keep these songs and keep what we could of the old recordings, but have Luke rerecord the drums.”
Instead, the band reworked their tracks and chose a new name, treesreach, which better represented their maturing, colorful sound. They took their new moniker from a lyric in Dawes’ 2013 single, “From a Window Seat.”
“We wanted a name that we felt we could grow into, like something phonetically that’s like, ‘Ooh, that’s intriguing. What might that band sound like?’” said Rairdin, who’s also inspired by Frontier Ruckus, Fleet Foxes and Radiohead.
Today, treesreach is preparing to release their second EP, Time and Time, which will drop later this spring and feature “How It Seems.” They’re also planning to schedule live shows during the summer.
“It’s a collection of songs that we scrounged up from the past 10 years. There’s another song on there that Riley wrote that’s brand new,” Rairdin said. “The new EP is rockier, and it’s more straight-ahead. We’re embracing the scatterbrained nature of it and letting it be what it is … like a mixtape almost.”