of the South Florida Scene is a weekly column devoted to the
artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring
interviews with the folks making it happen. This week, Jupiter's Under Every Green Tree.
As Under Every Green Tree, Danny Brunjes creates an alt-country-ish assortment of folky, acoustic songs driven by Brunjes' sweet voice and smart, tell-all lyrics. Often playing sets with his friends Alexander, he's got an earnest heart that sings a good story. He's inviting you in to listen, and maybe to relate. In light of Under Every Green Tree's upcoming show at Propaganda -- he's playing the Legends of Rodeo Pre-Party on Friday with the Dewars and Black Finger -- we talked to him about his lyrical inspirations and where he came up with that name.
New Times: Who is Under Every Green Tree? Is it primarily you, or are some of the tracks penned by your bandmates?
Danny Brunjes: It definitely started as just me. A good friend of mine, Ryan Alexander [who fronts Alexander], really got behind the songs once we started to work in his studio a bit. He helped me finish writing some of them and played a huge role in the record. Ian Jones has become my regular drummer and Brent Ray is joining us on bass. I have friends who are willing to help out with other instruments for live purposes, but I'm really just waiting for the right people to join up with at this point.
Were you involved with any other projects before?
I have been in several bands and was never too focused on doing my own thing. Most recently, I played in a band called Caillou. Once that fizzled out, I decided the band thing wasn't really working for me and found it much easier to write and play on my own.
When was Everybody Tells A Story recorded, and who helped you put it together?
The project began in January 2009. I sheepishly told Ryan about my little catalogue of songs. He gets really excited about pretty much everything so he offered to do some recordings. We both lead really busy lives, so we would take months off at a time then get back into it every day for a week straight. Ian played drums, and Ryan and I wrote and tracked everything else. We finished by November and were pretty stoked about it.
Your lyrics are heartfelt. What are some of the real-life inspirations for your songs?
I guess like any other artist, creating is not only a way to deal with things that are going on outside, but it's also an overflow of what's going on inside. I have never been able to pick a topic and write about it. I'm not good at making political statements or being really clever about what I think on this issue or that issue. Whether it be a vain heartache or a significant spiritual crisis, my experience with people and God shapes my writing.
"Doubt The Monster" is particularly universally relatable. Can you talk about what inspired that track?
Quite frankly, doubt inspired it. I was caught between a rock and a hard place in that season of my life. I was doubting my faith and doubting that God was really good, while at the same time struggling to believe that God is the only one who can remove the doubt I was feeling. I suppose it was pretty scary at the time. Hence the monster in the song. I think this is true for most people though. Whether it's God or something else, if you invest your time and resources in something, there comes a point where you break down a little and start to wonder if it was all for nothing. Hopefully, you'll realize that it wasn't.
What are your influences, musically speaking? What have you been listening to lately that may have inspired some of your own stuff?
For the most part, I will always have my go-to records -- definitely Bob Dylan, David Bazan, Ben Kweller, the Beatles, and the Avett Brothers.
What are the best and worst parts about being a South Florida act?
I would say the best part is that there aren't loads of awesome songwriters. You get to know the music community and you can connect with other musicians a lot easier. One of the worst things is the lack excitement about music in general. There are definitely some enthusiasts who enjoy live music, but I find that the scene around here is a tough one to break into. All in all, I enjoy it though.
Has being a local act here in South Florida influenced your sound at all, in terms of your friends' bands?
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Being a South Florida act has definitely influenced my sound. My friends have influenced my sound mainly because I have played or written with most of them. Local artists like Alison Fowler, Ryan Alexander, Elliot Shaw, Thomas Dalholt, Alex Bennett and several others are not only incredible songwriters in the area but also really good friends of mine. Seeing the process they go through when writing stuff and what they wrestle with to get to the finished product is really interesting and inspirational.
When can we look forward to more live sets?
Ian and I are trying to schedule as many shows as we can. The official release of my album Everybody Tells a Story... is also something I hope people will look forward to. It's got really awesome artwork.
Under Every Green Tree With the Dewars, Black Finger, and DJ Recess Theory Crue. 8 p.m. Friday, July 9 at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth. Call 561-547-7273, or click here.