Oliver Tree's 'Nostalgic Rock' Playlist
With everyone sequestered and self-quarantining due to the coronavirus, we’ve asked our favorite artists to come up with playlists that keep you entertained. Here is singer-songwriter, producer, rapper, comedian and filmmaker Oliver Tree:
These are some of the rock bands who inspired my debut album “Ugly is Beautiful.” Rock music feels dead in 2020 but for some reason, I felt compelled to make a rock album when absolutely nobody asked for it. Sure my album has a lot of other influences like pop, hip hop and electronic but the album as a whole is a straight forward alternative rock album. To be releasing this music at this time, I can’t help but feel like an outcast from any music scene and any community. When I was in middle school I used to be obsessed with classic rock and managed to convince myself that I was born during the wrong generation. However, when I finally opened my eyes and looked around me, I eventually found many incredible different exciting musical movements taking place. I never could box myself into one genre so it ended up creating a hybrid of everything I found along the way. This playlist shows my favorite nostalgic rock influence from all my years growing up.
Radiohead – “Karma Police”
I actually went to London to record a cover of “Karma Police” when I was 19 for my project called Tree. Flashback to when I was 8 years old, my dad and brother played OK Computer in the car and I told them I hated it and wanted them to turn it off. 10 years later and Thom Yorke was my biggest hero and OK Computer was my favorite album of theirs. I think as a kid we tend to reject the music our parents like because we want our own identity.
David Bowie – “Space Oddity”
My dad got me into David Bowie in middle school. He’s my earliest inspiration that really stuck true to me as I got older. The way he developed his persona really influenced the Oliver Tree project heavily and the storytelling aspect of his songs is impeccable. This song inspired me to get into researching outer space. In many ways, David Bowie was the original Alien Boy.
Talking Heads – “Burning Down the House”
David Bryne, the lead singer of Talking Heads, was my dad’s favorite artist so I grew up listening to this band. My brother was a C-section so my parents got to pick his birth date within a certain week. My dad chose for my brother to have the same birthday as David Bryne. Ironically, I think I ended up being more of a David Byrne knock off than my brother.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under the Bridge”
When I was in middle school, I read Anthony Kiedis’ book Scar Tissue in a few days. It’s literally one of the only books I can actually remember reading all the way through. It’s a classic Californian band that was super relatable for me as a wild, Cali kid. This band taught me how to inject spunk into my music.
Nirvana – “Heart-Shaped Box”
Kurt Cobain is a God. He was the spark of the grunge movement. He was the alternative poster boy when alternative was at the forefront of the mainstream. My debut album, Ugly Is Beautiful, has a lot of grunge influence. I tried my best to make a new fusion of grunge using electronic production for my song “Cash Machine.”
Pixies – “Where Is My Mind”
This song is perfection. I know it’s the poser Pixies song but for anybody who’s never heard them, this is the best introduction. Doolittle is the best album by far, every song on it is perfect.
Weezer – “Undone – The Sweater Song”
Weezer unintentionally seeped into my subconscious in my childhood. I was too young to miss their golden era but in middle school, I was never able to escape their song “Beverly Hills.” It wasn’t until recently that I studied up on their earlier stuff. My song “I’m Gone” is basically just a song by someone who wants to make a Weezer song without knowing what the band really sounds like. This is my favorite Weezer song and I only found it while studying director Spike Jonez’s work. He’s a director I’ve looked up to for a while and he directed this music video.
Counting Crows – “Mr. Jones”
The way Adam Duritz is able to use his voice to paint an image and tell a story is truly remarkable. This guy truly doesn’t care what anyone thinks with the way he carries and expresses himself. Me and my brother watched Counting Crows play in Berkeley about six years ago and it was extremely inspiring. He’s the most expressive performer I’ve ever seen and he mixes together songs live in ways similar to the way a DJ does mashups.
Blur – “Song 2″
I found Blur in high school. They were never a big influence of mine but the lead singer, Damon Albarn, went on to form Gorillaz and Damon has been one of my biggest influences my whole life.
Blink-182 – “All The Small Things”
This was one of the most popular songs of my childhood. All the Blink-182 earworms seeped into my mind and somehow never left my consciousness. I never really liked pop-punk.
Smash Mouth – “All Star”
Easily my favorite song when I was 7-10. Shrek came and ruined it but this song dominated my elementary school years, I had a good run with this song. Smash Mouth is actually from 30 min away from where I grew up so they’re basically some of the only local rock bands that were around for youth.
Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood”
Gorillaz are single-handedly the biggest inspiration for the Oliver Tree project. This song changed the way I listen to music. The way they mix alternative and pop shaped the way I made music. I was the first generation growing up listening to different vocalists coming together in this way which means I was part of the first generation who learned how to sing both their styles. My song “Bury Me Alive” is a great example of how I was able to take on the role of both Damon Albarn and Del the Funky Homosapien. Yes, it’s totally different sonically, but the idea is coming from the same place.