Unconditional Arms

“The Family Tree” is a track off of Oakland post-rock outfit Unconditional Arms‘ debut album, Kinship, which was released last year. But the song just got the video treatment, and we’re stoked to be premiering it here on The Bay Bridged.

“The Family Tree” is everything post-rock is supposed to be: melancholy but triumphant, wistful but heavy, nostalgic but forward thinking. And the video nails it:

If there’s a star of the video, it’s Owen, the little boy you see popping up throughout the clip. He’s no child actor, though – he’s the son of Jeff Wright, who founded Unconditional Arms “as a project to make an everlasting gift for my newborn son.” He elaborates in an email to the Bay Bridged:

I kind of freaked out when I learned I was going to be a father, just like anyone in the world would. But I feel like the points I was touching on were not the normal things, per se. I wasn’t really freaking about about the fact that I was going to be 23 with a child or how it was going to effect my musician life; it was more of me asking myself how I can become a person that my son could look back on with respect and gratitude. I was in my twenties, working at a bar and touring in a band. Those were my character attributes. That, and one time I chugged an entire bottle of whiskey in Santa Cruz. I would just continually ask myself the simple question of: What the fuck is so cool about that? Who would care that you did any of those things in 10 years? I wanted to become a better person and attempt to achieve something great – not for myself, but for the person I made. Kinship was the amalgamation of all those thoughts, but also a way for me to deal with any fear or doubts I had about the whole thing. It’s definitely my most proud piece of music I have written to date.

Wright found out he was going to be a father in November of 2012, at a time when his other band, The American Scene, was touring heavily, so he set up a Kickstarter to fund the production of Kinship. “I never really thought that UA would really move past it being a project with the sole purpose of making a record for my son,” he says.

But move past that initial phase it did. One of the Kickstarter rewards was a single show of the Unconditional Arms material, so Wright put a band together for what he expected to be a one-off performance. Wright says that was the decisive moment: “That show changed a great deal of things and we all agreed that UA is something that should be taken further and expanded upon.”

Two more releases followed on the heels of Kinship, as well as tours. “The whole ride has been really amazing. This tiny thing has turned in to something much more than I could’ve ever imagined.”

So how did the video come to be, over a year later? “As a joke, I put in the initial Kickstarter for this project that if you pledged some crazy amount of money that I would make a music video that contained baby footage of my son,” Wright says.

One of my close friends backed that option. This video, in part, is fulfilling that promise I made for the Kickstarter. But honestly, what it really does is encompass a year’s worth of this band growing, me learning what fatherhood means and sort of trying to personify those around me who have helped my son to become the brightest little ray of light around. The video features what seems like many randomized shots of scenery and people, but in reality, it’s not so random. These are people and places who are integral in Owen’s (my son), and my, life.

Wright is pulling double duty and playing with both Unconditional Arms and The American Scene on December 13 at The Red House in Walnut Creek.

Elder Brother, The American Scene, Souvenirs, Unconditional Arms
December 13, 2014
The Red House (Walnut Creek, CA)
7pm, $13