Strawberry Tree: deliciously chill

The term “high school band” usually brings to mind a crew of angsty kids passionate about music to the point of obsession. However, the band Strawberry Tree, consisting of juniors Brett Hanson, Jonathan Kaiser, William Kresse and sophomore Malcolm Squire, defies this stereotype, and unlike some stereotypical high school bands, manage to bring enjoyable music to the students of Ames High. Hanson said that the formation of Strawberry Tree involved “hard drugs, a giant panda, and several attractive women”. Kaiser presented a less exciting, but more believable, alternative to Hanson’s account: Hanson, Kaiser, and Kresse had all been acquaintances for many years before forming a band in freshman year, playing under the name “The Pears”. At the beginning of the current school year, the three juniors added Squire to their group, as they were in need of a drummer. After Squire joined, the band underwent a transformation. “We trashed all our old songs and started to get a lot more focused,” Kaiser said. Along with their reorganization, Strawberry Tree has undergone many name changes throughout their career. Past names include Handmade Balloon, Martha’s Boys, Cadaver Dog, and Tubular Luggage. “We could never come to a unanimous decision,” Hanson said when discussing the selection of their band name. Eventually, the group settled on Strawberry Tree, which has no particular meaning. “We just thought it was cool ‘cause strawberries don’t grow on trees,” Kaiser said. Currently, Hanson and Kaiser both provide vocals and play guitar, while Kresse plays keyboard and Squire plays drums. (However, Kaiser said that these roles could easily become interchangeable in the near future.) Citing artists such as Andrew Bird, Bob Dylan, Radiohead and Jack Johnson as influences, Strawberry Tree has managed to develop their own unique sound, which Hanson labeled as “avant-garde-indie-hipster-folk-pretentious-wannabe-hipster-chill”. “We’re so chill, we don’t even wear shoes,” Hanson said. Since their beginning, Strawberry Tree has gone on to create a handful (“between 6 and 10”, according to Kaiser) of original songs, which range in subject matter. “Generally, our songs are angry, political tirades about the world’s true evils. And for Jonathan, whiny love songs.” Hanson said. On May 8, the band made an appearance at Fellowship of the Bands, where they met a favorable reaction, and are expecting to have more performances in the near future. “Hopefully, we’ll get a lot more gigs,” Kaiser said. Aside from performing, the band is also hoping to record a demo soon. Though they are passionate about making music, the group also has a laid back attitude about their music at the same time. “We’re into it,” Kaiser said. “But it’s kind of like a joke.” But even with their easy going outlook about their music, the strength of the bond within the band is a promising sign for the future of their career. “We’re to a point where we cannot function minus one person.” Kaiser said. Strawberry Tree may not be the typical high school band filled with angst and unhealthy fixations on making music; nevertheless, they are full of potential and will hopefully continue to indulge students and other members of the community with their “chill” sound.