The Trees of Life (ToL) are a local 5 piece reggae-rock band hailing from Orlando, Florida. The band
consists of James “Smoof” White on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Skylar Rush on drums and backup
vocals, Tim Samples on lead guitar, and Dave Swanson on bass. They just recently released their first
full-length album “We Are All Connected” which received a lot of praise from the locals causing the band
to play more shows and gain more fans. I met up with the guys outside The Abbey in Downtown
Orlando. It was my first time meeting them but my second time seeing them perform live. Honestly
some of the nicest and most humble guys ever. Very excited to be able to contribute to their interview as the first installment of “Locals Only!” a series dedicated to local bands looking to make a name for themselves.
Josh R360: Guys thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us tonight. Im super excited for the
show. The Supervillians are gunna crush tonight! Being that you just recently released your first full length album, how does it feel knowing that you have a lot of support from the locals coming out to support?
Smoof: It’s truly amazing to have the local love and support! When we first started we were playing to
like 15 or 30 people? Now a few years later, after grinding and gettin the word out, we pulled around
300 or 400 people out to our album release party at Café DaVinci! Absolutely amazing to see the local
crowd really come out and show support for us, man. We’re very blessed.
J360: Most bands starting out usually play a cover song of a band that has influenced them. Are there
any covers that you play or would like to play?
Skylar Rush: Ya we like to throw a couple songs in that the whole crowd can get movin to. Every now
and then you gotta throw tribute to the artists that influence you, ya know? Dave and I like to mess
around with a little Red Hot Chili Peppers. We throw in everything from Buffalo Springfield to Sublime.
Smoof: We do a little Creedence Clearwater.
Dave: We always put our own little twist on it though. We’ll usually pick a song that everyone would
know and kinda do it in a Trees of Life style. You know were not a cover band, we gotta try and stay
J360: So, you brought up Sublime, yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of Brad Nowell’s death. If you
guys had something to say to him now what would it be?
Smoof: I would tell him thank you. Doing the research and knowing that he came up on his own and that
there was no big label support he did everything all by himself. He learned everything solo and went on
to teach these tactics and strategies to Slightly Stoopid, now to see what they’re doing, it really set the
tone not just for musical creativity but also the business aspect of the industry. It really set the stage for
me personally, to take that same path.
J360: Besides Sublime do you guys have any other big influences that you would like to shout out?
Dave: Ya I was raised a lot on the Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, a lot of 90’s
Alt. And then I also listened to a lot of hip-hop, and even a little Jazz and Funk. I kinda dabble in
SR: Same here I grew up on everything from Al Green and Bill Withers, and then I was also a Punk Rock
kid. I loved Jazz as well and Reggae has always been a staple.
Smoof: Growing up for me it was always The Beatles. But for what we do now, I’d say Dispatch is my
J360: Earlier you guys mentioned Café DaVinci which is still a venue im still yet to hit up. I live like right
down the street from it and I just never had a chance to go. But are there any other spots that you guys
like playing the most?
SR: West End Trading CO. in Sanford really started as our homebase.
Smoof: Beachside Tavern in Daytona is great spot as well as Surfer the Bar in Jacksonville.
SR: Captain Hiram’s is an amazing spot as well. There’s so many great venues in Florida its hard single
one out as your favorite! We’re just thankful to have gigs no matter where we go.
J360: We got the Hurricane Party goin on at the West End coming up soon. Its 12th annual and the lineup looks sick! We got Supervillians playing 2 sets, Josh Heinrichs, Oogee Wawa, Resinated and just so many more amazing bands. Is this your first year playing Hurricane Party?
SR: No, we played last year and the year before we were on the bill but couldn’t make it.
Smoof: Last year we played main stage and got to do a little interview with Travi Seeds. He’s a super cool
guy always good to see him, they always give us a lot of support over at West End.
J360: For the people reading this who don’t live in Florida or can’t make Hurricane Party, can you
describe the scene for them?
Smoof: Super positive vibe! It’s always a great time out there. It’s almost like it’s a big anti-rain dance!
We all get together, we have some fun, play a bunch of music, all different styles of music too! We all
kinda just have a good time and pray that we don’t have any hurricanes this season! But it didn’t work
last year, but hopefully it’ll work this year.
J360: So, is ToL a fulltime thing for you guys?
Smoof: Not yet. We all have day-jobs and families. The goal is to be able to do it full time but we want it
to make sense, with technology being so advance and being able to reach the world with a click of a
button, it’s been going really well with the way we’ve been working to become full time.
J360: Have you guys been able to play out of state yet?
Smoof: Ya we’ve played in Ohio before. Right now, we’re looking at venues in South Carolina for the fall
and spring time so we’re gunna be headed up the coast come 2019 and were stoked.
J360: What’s next for ToL? Being that you just released your album, are you guys taking a break from
studio to focus more on shows?
SR: We always try and stay in the studio, just laying down a couple tracks at a time just because we love
to do it. We wanna try and grow as much as we can into Florida. We’re goin down to Square Grouper in
Jupiter, as well as hitting up West Palm Beach in the late summer too it’s gunna be fun.
Smoof: Just let the album play out. Stay in the studio, im sure you’ll hear some new stuff sometime in
2019, I mean we’ve already got another album and a half worth of music already written.
J360: That’s awesome man. Im so excited for you guys this summer is gunna be dope. Im stoked to see
where your path takes you. Thank you, guys, so much. It was so fun talking to yall! #HereWeGrow