Schooltree is art rock built for a stadium. Spanning the distance between massive pop hooks and ethereal aural vistas, archetypal imagery and urban folklore, the band endeavors to set a new standard in storytelling with both narrative and sound. This is the music of dream and nightmare - a prism of sound shining through a crack in the sidewalk from another world.
Schooltree aspires to be part of the contemporary musical movement to create risk-taking, long-form work of substance in the era of the algorithm-driven pop single. The modern independent musician is advised by every blog and music industry professional to use proven formulas to "get your music heard;" the current rebellion resists pandering to the lowest common denominator and instead follows their own vision. Inspired by stubbornly individualistic music innovators like Frank Zappa and Laura Nyro, Schooltree fuses research and aesthetics of literature and classical music with rock music to create something uniquely accessible, visceral, and profound.
After their acclaimed debut Rise, bandleader Lainey Schooltree began work on Heterotopia, with the intention of creating a modern rock opera rooted in the classics of the genre while also reaching for a depth of thematic development characteristic of classical music and literature. Four years in the making, the result is a story and a world the listener can step inside and become part of; a symphonic odyssey through an oddly familiar dystopic dreamscape. Painstakingly produced over fifteen months as a 100-minute double record in the tradition of ambitious concept albums like Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Quadrophenia, Heterotopia will be released along with an illustrated color book of the opera’s libretto.
Part metaphysical fantasy, part urban folklore, Heterotopia is the story of a fractured hero’s quest for wholeness. Existential everygirl and underachiever extraordinaire Suzi loses her body one day, and must journey incorporeally through a parallel world of the collective unconscious on a psychedelic pilgrimage to get it back. But something is wrong in Otherspace; it has been overtaken by shadows and chaos. In order to become whole again, Suzi must delve into the origins of this world's darkness, going from the neon lights of her plasterboard horizon home to the bottom of a cursed river’s malevolent lullaby, where the fate of Otherspace and her own are inextricably linked.
Produced by Peter Moore (Think Tree, Count Zero) and Lainey Schooltree, Heterotopia is modern art rock informed by a 70's sensibility, favoring warmth and dynamics but also clarity and punch, effecting a sound that’s both classic and contemporary. Production was also shaped by sonically-crafted dramatic choices, such as finely honed, distinct singing styles for each character’s voice and accompanying instrumentation. The varied arrangements and textures that make up Heterotopia’s ever-changing topography are layered with stacked guitar harmonies, crystalline synth leads, odd time grooves, ominous ambient soundscapes, theatrical vocals, even a greek chorus as narrator.
In April 2016, a successful Kickstarter campaign for the release raised over $20k, receiving signal boosts by notable artists Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Margaret Cho, Amanda Palmer, and Barry Crimmins.
2017 LINE UP
lainey schooltree | vox, keys
tom collins | drums
peter danilchuk | synth, organ
ryan schwartzel | bass
sam crawford | guitar