We recently sat down with Joe and Alex of Pear Tree Sessions. In high spirits, the guys told us all about their new video recording studio, built mainly from reclaimed wood. Having already hosted some prominent York artists we wanted to get behind the scenes of this new York music fixture.
How did Pear Tree Studios come about?
Alex: I live down the road from Joe. Joe sent me a text one night saying ‘I’ve got this amazing idea.’ I instantly thought he wanted to put on a gig or a festival or something like that. I went round to his house and he started telling me about the ideas that he had and how we should set up a studio in the garage and have sessions. It evolved from there. At first we thought we were going to have a black backdrop, something minimal like that but then I kinda got a little bit carried away designing stuff and then Joe was like ‘yeah, this sounds cool’.
Joe: If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it properly, haven’t ya?
Alex: Yeah, and that’s the whole ethos from the beginning. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it once and do it right. So, we scoured eBay, palette yards and abandoned buildings, and we just got loads of wood. Skips as well, we got the carpet from the skip next door because they were having a new kitchen fitted.
Joe: We wanted everything to be as good as possible but we didn’t have a lot of money. We made do with what we had and it’s actually worked out pretty well.
Alex: Then we made everything ourselves – so all the electrics, all the woodwork, everything. It’s been a laugh.
You’ve already worked with some of the more prominent artists in York. How did you book them? What’s your booking process?
Joe: Well, you obviously know I play music. Before I was in the band with Lucy [Williams, Two Reasons Why], me and Alex were in a band together, so we’ve been in the York music scene since we were eighteen. So, they’re all our friends. You know how tight the York music scene is. Everyone knows everyone.
Alex: As soon as we were talking to Zak Ford about getting him in for a session, it then lead onto Rachel Croft wanting to come in. Once we said we were having Zak Ford in, other people were interested. It just takes somebody in the scene to say ‘oh yeah, I’ll do it’, and then everybody wants to do it. People are always a bit skeptical about these things because they don’t want the quality to be rubbish. They don’t want to travel anywhere and have a video that’s rubbish. So, we’re really happy to have it sorted and everyone thinking it’s something worth having their name on.
Pear Tree Sessions
Video via Youtube
Who would you like to book next? And you can answer this with either a local artist, or anyone in the world, or one of each.
Alex: Anyone in the world? I was on YouTube last night and I was looking through the liked videos, or the recently watched videos for Pear Tree Sessions and there was just an endless list of Ed Sheeran songs and I was like I know that I haven’t watched any Ed Sheeran songs. [To Joe] You must have watched them all.
Joe: I do like Ed Sheeran.
Alex: I’d have Ed Sheeran.
Joe: I love Ed Sheeran. He seems like a nice guy.
Alex: Frank Turner.
Joe: Bear’s Den. Went and saw Bear’s Den at The Ritz in Manchester. They were breath-taking.
Alex: They were incredible. They were absolutely incredible. Maybe them actually.
Joe: Yeah, I’m happy with that. Bear’s Den.
That actually leads on nicely to my next question. You’ve done acoustic soloists and duos so far. Have you been tempted to try and get a band in there?
Joe: Depends what you mean by bands. It’s a limited space. We’ll fit in what we can fit in.
Alex: We’ll record what we can get in. I think the space itself, with the wood and everything, really lends itself to a kind of emotional acoustic performance anyway. So I don’t know whether like a 6-piece band would look right.
Joe: I think it depends. If we get in strings and stuff, then yeah. If we’re talking about drums and basses and you know, a typical rock band, it might not work.
Alex: We can accommodate anyone.
Joe: Yeah that’s what we wanted. We wanted to give anyone the opportunity. When live session studios get bigger then tend to turn people away and I don’t really want to do that.
Alex: Yeah, or you have to submit a video that you’ve already done. You have to be vetted and checked if you’re good enough. It’s not like that for us. There’s no snobbery about it. It’s just honest, real music.
What’s been your best moment so far?
Joe: I don’t know, the funniest had to be Gobbledigook. Trying to get Phil and Dave to do a take is impossible because they’re just laughing all the time.
Alex: They were having such a laugh that hours and hours went by where we would normally film, and we hadn’t filmed anything. We were just chatting.
Joe: And the outtakes, we were listening through 10-15 minutes of outtakes waiting for the song to start again.
Alex: We could probably have a short movie just for them, couldn’t we? When we had Zak in first, and he started playing. It was like…sh*t, it’s actually really coming together. It just worked. I remember when Zak had gone, me and Joe just looked at each other and was like ‘that was wicked’. It’s also really cool because, if it’s Zak, or if it’s any artist, because it’s only me and Joe filming it and recording it, we’ve got like our own little show. Like we just get to see these artists and watch them play amazing songs, and they put everything into it and it’s like, nobody else is there, just me and Joe watching. The fact that we can share it is wicked.
Joe: There is a real connection in that situation.
Alex: It’s not awkward. It hasn’t been awkward at all, has it?
Joe: No, even the quiet ones have ended up having a really good time. It is just enjoying what we’re doing.
What’s been the most difficult thing?
Joe: Trying to get Alex there on time!
Alex: [laughs] That’s not true.
Joe: You’re on your final warning, aren’t ya?
Alex: I am on my final warning actually. I think the hardest thing we’ve had to do is smash palettes.
Joe: Everything’s made out of wood in there and all the wood’s recycled from old palettes and stuff like that, so we bought a planner and we bought a sander and, I’m not joking, for days we planned and we sanded.
Alex: We’d do it for 5-6 hours straight.
Joe: Your hands were like [mimics vibrating hands]. It was awful.
Alex: Smashing them was actually the hardest because we had to take them apart well enough because we were using all the wood, so it was not like we could just smash them.
Joe: Smashing’s the wrong word, it was taking them apart, carefully.
Pear Tree Sessions
Video via Youtube
What’s your opinion of the York music scene?
Joe: I like how close-knit it is. I like how everyone knows everyone, but I think it could be so close-knit that it’s hard for new people to get in.
Alex: I’ve been amazed at the talent. When people come in and you think, yeah they can sing and that, but it’s weird, isn’t it, because they are so good. Very talented.
Joe: I think that comes along with people helping each other out as well. Everyone learns from each other. They learn how to put on a show.
Alex: I don’t think there’s a real competitive scene in York. I don’t think anyone’s really competing with each other. I think it’s a good atmosphere.
Joe: We’ve been in acoustic bands together so we’ve been to rock gigs, indie gigs, pop gigs. We’ve been in every kind of gig situation and never felt unwelcome.
Any last words for the fans?
Alex: Fans? I think we have five subscribers now. Thanks for clicking a button that says ‘subscribe’. We appreciate it.
Joe: I don’t think I’ve had a subscriber before.
Alex: [laughs] I don’t think anybody’s ever cared about anything that we’ve ever done so far, so to have five people who bothered is really good, so thanks a lot!
Pear Tree Sessions regularly release videos via their website and are currently seeking artists who would like to work with them.