Blitzen Trapper | Road Hardened

“These are songs I care about quite a bit, more so than the last couple records.”




 When Blitzen Trapper rolls into town this Saturday, it will not be the first time they’ve been here, though it may be the first time they’ve played The Firebird.  This is a band that has played the road a long time – something that is evidenced in their recordings.  Their music, including the recently released first single from their upcoming album, American Goldwing, sounds like the road.  The songs, released over the course of 5 albums, manage to be both guarded and filled with an electric roughness that illuminates a life that is both like what every person experiences but also contain a dreamy restlessness most of us never get a chance to act upon.

I spoke to Eric Earley, lead singer and songwriter for Blitzen Trapper, while he was in Portland, Oregon, gearing up to hit the road for a short tour in support of American Goldwing, which will be released September 13th on Sub Pop Records.  The album was originally conceived of as a solo album for Earley, but eventually grew to include the full band (which is down to 5 members from the previous incarnation of 6, with the departure of keyboardist Drew Laughery). When describing how that came about, he said, “These are songs I care about quite a bit, more so than the last couple records.”  Despite his assertion that one of the previous albums in particular, Wild Mountain Nation, was “a record that sounded like it had been authored by a drunken scarecrow who had been dragged behind a truck,” the musical history of the band proves that they’re capable of recording new albums that both tie in with the previous releases but push the band into new arenas to explore.

When asked how things are different now than they were when the band started 10 years ago, or when Earley himself started recording 16 years ago, he said, “It’s all more of a job…I think we appreciate what we have more now.”  He doesn’t say job with the voice of a man tired of what he does.  At the age of 34, he manages to covey world awareness but not a sense of being world weary.  A few of the band members do have families now, and it’s no doubt more difficult to leave for a few weeks than it was during their, as Earley describes it, “less ambitious days of drinking and getting into trouble.”

In that vein, I asked Earley about an interview he did last year wherein he described briefly a book he was writing. Given the relationship he appears to have with the English language – both written and performed – I was anxious to hear that the novel had been finished and was coming soon to my favorite local bookstore.  Alas, his novel has been finished – he says it’s, “fictional, but not really,” – but he has no current plans for it to be released to an audience.  He says then, as if contemplating it, that he might eventually, and adds that he’s always writing.  One can only hope that’s true, and that he and the rest of Blitzen Trapper allow us along for the ride as they explore the act of creation.

Blitzen Trapper will play The Firebird, Saturday July 23rd, at 8:00pm.  AgesandAges open and tickets are $15 with a $2 minor surcharge. | Teresa Montgomery 

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