Courtesy Treehouse Cabaret.

Say what you want about sonic identities, but no matter what a band thinks it sounds like, the common element among them all is that quest to make themselves sound unique, to discover what their signature sound is, and then hopefully start slapping on the appropriate Bandcamp hashtags. But for local trio Treehouse Cabaret, that stuff is basically out the window. They don’t seem to care what kind of band you call them.
“We’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different genres,” said Richard Rodriguez, the band’s singer and guitarist, “so we get labeled a bunch of different things.”
Treehouse’s various social media platforms suggest genres like punk, surf rock, and hardcore, yet there’s a ska jam on the group’s EP released this past June, a seven-song record. The tracks on disconnect. Me sound raw and urgent, Rodriguez’ smoke-cured snarl carried by jazz-inflected chord progressions and Latin-influenced lead lines. Punk is certainly the music’s main through-line, however. The band essentially throws out any hard-and-fast rules about what their songs should sound like.
“But in that live environment, we do give off that punk vibe, I guess,” said drummer Oscar Hernandez. Live recordings posted on the Treehouse Cabaret Soundcloud page bear this out. The band sounds punk as fuck.
The trio, joined by producer/manager Luis Lopez and bassist Jerry Coronado were seated around a foldable banquet table abutting the control room of the small studio Lopez built inside the band’s space at Grindstone Rehearsal Studios on the West Side. Given the table, and a couch, and amenities like a fridge, a microwave, and some gaming consoles, it’s obvious the band spends a fair amount of time there. The walls are covered in graffiti, tagged by Lopez and members of a local art crew. The space is as much a clubhouse as it is a place to get shit done. But Treehouse Cabaret evidently gets shit done, too.
“Sorry, we’re out of beer,” Rodriguez said. “We just finished recording a new song.”
Lopez disappeared inside the control room momentarily and queued it up. He sat back down as laid-back, reverb-doused guitar chords chimed out of the monitors.
Now in their mid-20s, Treehouse Cabaret’s members go way back, finishing one another’s sentences the way people do when they’ve known each other since they were kids.
Growing up on the North Side, the three attended the same middle school and high school and all played for their respective church at one time.
Rodriguez’ songwriting is an outgrowth of jams he and Coronado worked on as teenagers, he said.
“Jerry and I had tried to work on music when we were in high school, but after high school, we got serious about it.”
Though he plays bass in the band, Coronado said he studied guitar during high school under the tutelage of a Texas Wesleyan University music professor and some of his students. Rodriguez originally played upright bass in the school orchestra, moving to the viola after taking a music theory class.
“Jerry was kind of a mentor to me, too,” he said.
“We definitely challenged each other,” replied Coronado.
Though not a member in the typical, what-do-you-play-in-the-band? sort of way, Lopez fits into TC’s DIY aesthetic. His approach to production comes out of home-recording experimentation.
“I messed around making beats and stuff like that,” he said. “And then the summer after high school, I was like ‘what am I gonna do with my life?’ I liked making music. So I went to audio engineering school at Media Tech [Institute] in Farmers Branch. I’ve been engineering for about three years. I met these guys in that process.”
The band has two albums on Soundcloud on Lopez’ label, Crooked Tooth/Fostepco: the aforementioned EP (recorded in the band’s studio) plus an earlier, 7-song, self-titled recording. Alternately moody and buoyant, the latter is a mix of lonely guitar melodies and double-time punk stomp. Besides the track that was recorded right before they were interviewed, TC also debuted a digital single in August called “Sun Off the Beach.” As its name implies, the track would fit nicely on an album by San Diego’s Wavves.
While they sort out the business details of running and promoting a band, Treehouse Cabaret plans to keep on writing and recording.
“You know how I describe what we sound like? It’s freedom,” said Rodriguez. “Freedom to just be creative and write whatever we want. So whatever the name of that kind of music is.”