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Interview With A Tree

A band wasted.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Todd Forrest says: "This looks like a fir tree. It's fragrant with long-lasting needles and my favorite choice for a Christmas tree." Photo by Jason Nocito

How beautiful of a thing is an evergreen tree? How much of an inspiration is a tree that manages to hang on to its chlorophyll-ed goodness even in the harshest heart of winter? Am I tripping? I'm sorry, I guess I just sometimes wish I could be an evergreen. I would be so proud and I would look pretty in the snow. I would live in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Until the day when I finally die and get to be recycled as a tree, I will content myself with this band called Evergreen's classic gut punch of a record. It came out in 1995 and everyone was too stupid to buy it then (just like nobody pays enough attention to the pines now). Luckily, it just got reissued. Did you like Slint? (If you don't know what I'm talking about, go buy the album Spiderland today.) Evergreen's drummer is Slint's Britt Walford (he was also in The Breeders for a second). He is the master of that sloppy natural dance-y punk beat. In fact, Evergreen sounds just like Slint if they weren't allowed to make any songs longer than four minutes and they had to be wasted all the time. In the recent wake of garage bands popping up like zits on my face when I was 14, Evergreen is a hard blast of the real stuff. They aren't even called "The" Evergreen, you know? When contacted via telephone at his Louisville, Kentucky home, Walford is surprisingly tree-like in his almost utter silence. And no, that isn't an insult. VICE: Why did you guys call the band Evergreen? Britt: Umm…I can't remember. OK, end of interview. Perhaps this is a Zen koan answer, but I can't figure it out. More helpful is the man who produced the Evergreen album, the very non-tree-like James Murphy of the DFA. He told me: "Evergreen might still be the most for-real rock band I ever recorded. The singer, Sean, was doing bong hits between lines of songs." This may be the best clue yet as to why the band is called Evergreen, as is the answer given by Britt when he's asked about his personal relationship to trees. "One of the coolest things," he muses, "is having the occasion to really experience a tree. That's been pretty cool." ERIN MARTINEZ

Evergreen is available on Temporary Residence Records.