The four members of the band Fat Tree, Sam Bischof, 27, and the Jacobs brothers — Eric, 31, Kyle, 28, and Samuel, 25 — are East Valley residents who have been performing together since high school.
Now, they are competing in the Arizona Music Showdown, a contest in which local bands compete for the top prize of a recording and performance package.
Fat Tree took first place in rounds one and two, and they will compete again Feb. 23 in Tempe. The Arizona Music Showdown Finals will be held March 23 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Last November, Fat Tree won “Best Musical Group of the Year” at the 2012 Los Angeles Music Awards.
The East Valley Tribune spoke with lead vocalist Bischof and bassist Eric Jacobs about Fat Tree’s roots and their thoughts on the band’s growth.
Q: Describe your music style.
A (Sam): We’ve actually had a tough time with that one. We make all original music, but the closest made-up genre name that we’ve come up with so far is ‘funky alternative rock.’
Q: Your lyrics are clean, with no curse words or vulgar language. Has that helped Fat Tree to stand out?
A (Sam): You know, we haven’t had any problems at shows with people coming up and saying, ‘Hey, I wish you guys would cuss more,’ or anything like that. It’s worked out really well, and we’ve actually found that we’ve ended up having a pretty wide appeal.
Q: What has been the most exciting thing to happen to Fat Tree?
A (Eric): I guess probably when we did the LA Music Awards. We had the opportunity to be nominated for the Best Musical Group, and we also were up for the Best Music Video. It kind of exposed us to the whole Hollywood scene and helped get our foot in the door there. We got to play at the Avalon Theatre, which is a really cool place. A lot of big bands have gone there. It was really neat to play in front of a crowd of industry people, and (we) got a lot of good, positive feedback there. I think it was a really good step for us.
Q: What can people expect when they come to see one of your shows?
A (Sam): It’s high-energy, for sure. Immediately, there’s apparent chemistry on stage. I think that comes, first of all, from the fact that three-quarters of the band is family. And I’ve known the band since I was 12 years old, so I’m practically family myself. (The chemistry) part came really easy to us. There wasn’t a lot of disagreement in where we wanted to go with the band or what we wanted to do. It was just about making the music, and that comes across on the stage, where you can tell that we love what we do, and it’s just a good time. Our music is happy and upbeat. You can get moving to it, and it’s uplifting and energetic.
Q: What’s the future of Fat Tree?
A (Sam): Our goal is to just to play through as many years as possible. I think we all kind of started with the dream of one day playing a sold-out venue with everyone singing our lyrics back to us. And we just want to share our music, share what we’re making. We’re all passionate about it. We feel like we’ve all been blessed with the talents and abilities to play our music, and we’ve had some great opportunities to share them, so we just want to continue sharing them and, hopefully, growing at larger and larger levels as we go along.
If you go
What: See Fat Tree play against four other local bands in the Gunslinger Semi-Final Round, a precursor to the Arizona Music Showdown Finals, which will be held March 23 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
When: 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23
Where: School of Rock, 411 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
• Ellen, a junior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.