The Tree Ring have announced a new album, titled Ten Rivers, that's scheduled for release on Sept. 16. On Sept. 17, the band will play their final live performance—a seated, headlining show at The Irenic.
"The Tree Ring has always been a 'friends playing together when we can' project," says frontman and songwriter Joel P West on a Friday afternoon at Influx in North Park. "Everyone in the band has another music career outside of the band. It's getting harder and harder to all be together."
West, himself, has carved out a career scoring films, while the rest of the band's members, he says, either have other bands or play music in symphonies, chamber ensembles or theatrical productions. As a result, simply getting everyone together in the same room is enough of a challenge that they wanted to make this show feel special.
"The main reason we're doing this is because it's the end of an era," he says. "We're never going to tour. We're just a group of friends that like to get together and play music."
Ten Rivers will feature contributions from everyone who's ever been involved with The Tree Ring, which West counts at around 15 or 16 people. Its 10 songs are intended to represent 10 different journeys.
"It's the kind of album that feels good to put on during a road trip," West says.
But this doesn't necessarily mean that The Tree Ring is entirely coming to an end. West says The Irenic will probably be their last traditional full-band show in a theater, but the nature and relationship of the band's members leave open the possibility of The Tree Ring returning in some capacity, however unconventional that might be.
"We want to keep it open with the looseness of being able to pick it up when we can. We hope to keep it going," he says. "We have a hard time not getting our instruments out when we all get together."