Thursday, May 04, 2006

InFocus: Tree(63) History

In late 1996, three men stepped onto a stage in Durban, South Africa with the intention to play five songs, and then disappear. They had no name, had only practiced together for a grand total of six hours, and had no intentions to pursue a career together. But God had other plans for frontman/guitarist John Ellis, drummer Darryl Swart and bass player Scoop: Tree63. After the concert that night, the group continued to jam together for a few months, before getting serious about their music. Ellis and Swart, both with backgrounds in other bands began putting songs together that were written by Ellis. They decided to put together a CD to remember their time together and then breakup. They went to Martin Engel’s Dog Ears Studios in South Africa and self-produced their first album: Overflow.
Only 1000 copies of Overflow, which contained the original versions of “Look what you’ve done for me” and “Joy,” were pressed. They also came up with a name: Tree. After the CD was released, the group called it quits and broke up. But in 1998 the group regrouped and went to Europe to play a few shows. Upon their return, they signed with Survivor Records and put out their second album, 63, which contained their smash hits “A Million Lights” and Treasure” which attracted international attention, especially in the United States. Their straight up rock n’ roll style and blatant Christian lyrics struck a chord with many.
The group, now known as Tree63, traveled to the U.S. in 2000, now including Martin Engel at bass, and released their debut self-title American CD. The album included a mix of songs from their previous two albums, and earned the group a Dove Award in 201 for Rock Album of the Year, as well as garnering the songs “Treasure” and “Look what you’re done” #1 spots on the US CHR charts.
In 2002 the band went on several tours, in Australia, South Africa, and the U.S. with the likes of Rebecca St. James and others. Then, Martin Engel pursued other interests, and Daniel Ornellas, another South African, joined as bass player. The three went into the studio and recorded their first material in three years: The Life and Times of Absolute Truth. The CD showcased the group’s amazing talent in songs like “All Because” and the rocker “The Glorious Ones.” The group continued to tour, and in 2004 released their third American album, The Answer to the Question, which included the hits “I Stand for you” “King” and their #1 cover of Matt Redman’s “Blessed be Your Name.”
Then, in 2006, the group released Worship Volume One: I Stand for You, a mix of some of their older songs and some new ones. Arguably their best album to date, the disc included live versions of previous songs “King” “I Stand for You” and “Look what you’ve done.” Some of the new songs included “Never be the same” and “Lift.” But the best songs of the album were “Nothing but the blood”, their take on the old hymn with their own verses and the live version of “Amazing Grace” concluding the album.
Tree63’s road has been anything but flat and easy going. The group has experienced label changes, group member changes, and yet God has had His hand on them from the start. The group’s amazing sound, powerful lyrics, and Ellis’ bald dome are what makes them this month’s InFocus group of the month.

Information taken from the group's website:


Blogger CalamityJane said...

I'm not trying to be critical or anything...but why do contemporary artists usually look so different, and "strange" (if I may say so)? Why the radical look? Do they think it helps sell them, or that they gain notice by looking so different? And the poses they take...goodness gracious! I'm curious about the psychology behind it all. Do you have any special insight into the subject?

5/04/2006 4:05 PM  
Blogger w8nforhim said...

It is a good observation...As Christians we are called to be in the world and yet not of it. But then, the question must be asked on where you draw the line between worldliness and individuality. For Tree63, first off, they are from South Africa, a whole different culture that i have no idea how they dress, so they may look radical to us, but normal in SA. The poses, i don't know...I guess you could just smile at the camera, or take a more artistic approach...Overall, I think the outward look isn't as important as the inward attitude...for instance, why are they dressing like that and posing like that? I think the motivations are more important...but again, a good observation.

5/05/2006 7:53 AM  
Anonymous bobby said...

... then what about our good ol' David Crowder?? What about his looks?!?

5/05/2006 8:37 PM  
Blogger CalamityJane said...

True, but the outward look we present says a lot about us, our faith, our standards, our beliefs, etc. As Christians, we have to be careful to present an image that glorifies God and reflects His character. After all, we are made in His image and our bodies are His temple. Also, our goal should be to draw attention to HIM and not ourselves. But you're right when you say that the inward attitude is important, for that is what motivates the outward look.

5/10/2006 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Lizzie said...

Thank you for reviewing one of my all time favorite Christian groups. I love coming out to your blog to find out the stories behind the groups etc. So thanks for putting all of that hard work into this so we people can come out and just read up on it you!

5/12/2006 11:39 PM  

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