Lightning in A Bottle: An Interview With Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley
Part cosmopolitan hipster, part grizzled hobo, and part wily storyteller, the band Blitzen Trapper has, as much as any Oregon band, captured the soul and sound for the state over the past decade. Their music is at times gritty and rocking, at other times easy-going folksy, and sometimes both at once. The stories they tell veer into mystical, but manage to keep their feet firmly on the ground, like the spooky tales your unshaven uncle tells around the KOA campfire. All to say: What a great way to wrap up your summer concerts.
7 pm, Friday, September 20. Fry Family Farm, 2184 Ross Lane, Medford.
Rogue Valley Messenger: A couple years ago, Blitzen Trapper adopted some songs to a narrative stage production at Portland Center Stage. Did that sense of stage performance change how you present your music in subsequent non-theatrical shows?
Eric Earley: That experience was amazing and fun; a strange, highly visual way to present a story. It definitely allowed us to explore new ways of presenting songs as more than just recreations of the recordings.
RVM: I know that Blitzen Trapper has done many more songs than “Furr,” but that song remains in heavy rotation on my iPod. Fair to ask if you have a spirit animal?
EE: Probably the closest thing to a spirit animal I have would be a raccoon, I seem to get colonies of them using my property as a latrine and playground, there’ve been times when I’m out in the trees and lock eyes with one of them and some kind of weird communication passes between us, or more like a mutual kind of confusion, like I was one of them in a past life.
RVM: If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play your role? Feel free to choose a young and “old” version.
EE: Young Eric would have to be played by Jen the Gelfling from the Dark Crystal, old Eric would be Orson Welles.
RVM: Creativity can be a double-edged sword, in that you-all have changed up your sound over the past decade-plus. That can make it tricky to build a steady fan base who expects one sound from you and you show up with another. How much do you think about the fan’s expectations when you are writing new songs?
EE: It can definitely be tricky after ten years to keep doing a consistent thing, we’ve generally kept the music about narrative stories and guitars, there have been a few left turns but generally I’ve tried to keep things weird but steady.
RVM: Do you think of yourself more from Portland or from Oregon-at-large? Meaning, obviously, you are in the “scene” in Portland and have collaborated with musicians there; however, I think of songs and also your play as having a real strong influence/interest in the more rural places and spaces in Oregon. Or, asked differently, are you a city boy or a country boy?
EE: I’d say I think of myself as from the outskirts of Salem, Oregon which is where most of us are from. Most of the stories originate from that area and those places. I’ve lived in Portland for years and seen it change a lot so it kind of depends on the song as far as what place I’m writing about.
RVM: Do you have a favorite up-and-coming Oregon band you could recommend?
EE: TK and the Holy Know Nothings is a great band around here, also Haley Heynderickx is fabulous as well. So many amazing bands in this area for sure.