Still A Man of Few Words
By Joe Martone
Many of you who have been with us for a while will remember when we interviewed Eric Earley, the front man of the Portland-based band Blitzen Trapper late last year. You’ll also remember how Earley was a man of few words—hence the headline “A Man of Few Words.”We weren’t kidding.Earley is undeniably talented. He usually plays guitar on the records and the band as whole works beautifully together. I absolutely recommend American Goldwing (the band’s most recent album) for anyone. It’s easy to fall for Blitzen Trapper—if you don’t believe us check out some of the band’s tracks above or stop by the show on June 6 at Pappy and Harriet’s—but getting a long-winded answer from him is a little more of a challenge. Nonetheless, I was able to talk to Earley and get his perspective on guitar, the classics, fishing and more.
So, how’ve you been? We interviewed you last year, what have you been up to since then?
Uh . . . you know, just touring. Recording a lot.
What have you been up to creatively? Most recent thing I’ve heard from you is “Stranger in a Strange Land.”
Oh yeah. I mean, uh . . . I’ve being doing some demos for some new songs. Yeah. I’m always writing stuff. Writing songs.
I hear you’re going to do more tours across America.
Yeah, we have a few more tours planned for the rest of the year. A few more places. We’ve been to a lot of them before. Yeah, I like playing live.
How would you describe your sound? “Stranger in a Strange Land” had a Bob Dylan vibe and a lot of your other songs have a rock edge.
Oh, I just play guitar music. We’re a little bit of everything, you know it’s obviously American cause we’re American. There’s a country influence in a lot of it, but its guitar, I guess.
When it comes to guitar, who are your influences? You’ve covered “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix, a classic. What’s your take on that?
The recording isn’t like that one at all. I play piano on that; it’s more of a groove thing. You know what I mean, it’s totally different than Hendrix’s version. He didn’t write that song, it’s an older song. Nobody knows who wrote it. It’s traditional.
Guess that gives you that free license to do what you want with it. Put your own spin on it.
So what else have you been working on?
I don’t know. A record. I don’t know. I’ve been fishing a lot.
Do you get inspiration from that? Write a song about the still waters?
Not really. [All] I can really do is just fish!
Maybe you can do an Otis Redding cover. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”
Ha. I get ya.
You like working with that old, classic feel?
Yeah sure. I like a lot of classic rock music, stuff like that. Country music.
What kind of guitar songs do you like to play? Do you like to have long solos or more laid back?
It just depends. We kind of do a lot of both.
Keeps it interesting, absolutely. Must be a lot of fun.
Oh yeah. Sure.
How did you learn guitar? Did you take classes or pick it up and start strumming?
Well, my dad taught me a lot. It was little easy.
It was easy?
It’s easy to learn when you’re really young. You sort of pick it up easier, I think.
Was your dad a musician?
Yeah, he was.
How do you think it feels going back to Portland and that community, as opposed to performing elsewhere?
Uh, I don’t know. I mean, with so many friends there it’s different. You know, it’s always different in your hometown. Every city’s different.
Which city is your favorite?
Oh man. There’s a lot of weird places we’ve played that are cool.Minneapolis,St. Louis,KansasCity.
What was one of your weirder performances?
Uh, I don’t even remember them anymore. I can barely remember yesterday.CalvinCollegewas weird. It was like a theatre.
Is there anywhere you would never play?
Not really. We’ve played all kinds. There are some places you don’t because no one goes there, there’s no place to play. I think we’ve played in every other state. We’ve never played inMaine.
Would you go outside the U.S.?
We’ve been to Europe andAustralia. There’s fans everywhere you go.
What’s been your favorite interaction with your fans?
You know how you get gifts from some fans? One gave me a buck knife and a wet stone. A friend of ours gave me a rifle. Some tried to give us some cars and stuff from their home to show they’re appreciative.
I thought most people stopped at flowers and stuffed animals.
We’re not really a stuffed animal kind of band.
If you could tour with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
The Replacements. Loved them when I was a kid.
Best of luck to you guys. Can’t wait to see you back in California someday.
Thanks a lot man.
Blitzen Trapper at Pappy and Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, (760) 365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com. Weds, June 6. $13 advance, $15 at the door.