This band has stories to tell. Anchored by Graham Hnatiuk’s warm baritone and idiosyncratic lyrics, Hearing Trees takes you on a poetic narrative journey, winding between uncertainty and love. Powerful chords and delicate guitar melodies float over highway-driving rhythms, carrying with it the anxious conviction of hopefulness bubbling up from a dark interior.
Their latest single, Million Times, captures a summer night to remember, shaky from not knowing how the night is going to go, if you’re supposed to stay or if you’re supposed to leave. Leading with guitarist Andy Cole’s beautiful opening riff, Million Times doesn’t take long to find the groove set by Eric Ducharme’s playful bass melody and Kyle Kunkel’s insistent drums, setting the scene for Graham Hnatiuk’s opening impulse decision. Growing with confidence and force as the evening goes on, by the end of the night we’re having so much fun we wished the sun didn’t have to come up so early. And if we’re all willing to shout along with the anthemic chorus, maybe it doesn’t have to.
Hearing Trees existed before frontman Graham Hnatiuk had ever picked up a guitar or penned a single lyric. Even as just an apparition in his mind’s eye, Hnatiuk’s musical vision essentially saved his sanity, maybe even his life. “I started this in 2009 because I had a serious mental episode and nearly ended up in the hospital,” the singer, guitarist, and songwriter candidly explains. “My life just wasn’t going in the right direction, but I found solace and inspiration in art and music. I knew that’s what I needed to do.”
Dropping out of school and dedicating himself entirely to his creative calling in 2009, Hnatiuk slowly and steadily developed a sonic and lyrical blueprint for a band. Then, in 2013, he enlisted fellow musicians to finally realize Hearing Trees in the flesh. A self-titled EP kicked things off in 2014, quickly after Hearing Trees released a follow-up EP, Dear Sahara in 2015, and toured regularly, earning showcase spots at CMW and Breakout West. Their debut full-length album, Quiet Dreams (produced and mentored by Michael P. Falk, of acclaimed Winnipeg indie outfit Les Jupes) was released in 2018. The single Telling Peter quickly became the band’s most well-received song, and was released along with a conceptual music video. The band made their first cross-country trek to support Quiet Dreams, totalling 36 shows from Victoria to Charlottetown.
Lyrically, Hnatiuk often explores anxiety, depression, and the ups and downs of life from a surprisingly optimistic perspective. “I’m always looking for hope – something uplifting that will make me feel better, and hopefully make other people feel better,” Hnatiuk says. “I don’t necessarily want to pick those things apart. I’d rather get to the realization that things are going to be okay.”
And therein lies what’s so special about Hearing Trees. As only a concept, it inspired and healed its creator. now, as a fully realized creative force and sonic identity all its own, it’s poised to do the same for anyone else drawn into its world.