It is fitting that ten seconds into Blitzen Trapper's fifth full-length record, front man Eric Earley utters that most sacred of rock 'n' roll tropes: 'For to love is to leave or to run like a rollin' stone,' he sings in the harmonized verse that leads off the album's epic title track, 'Destroyer of the Void.' As is the case with just about every musician or band that has employed the Blues' greatest simile-Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, Van Morrison, the Temptations, the Rolling Stones-Blitzen Trapper is unabashed in its embrace of tradition.
Over the course of their four full-lengths albums to date, including their revelatory 2008 Sub Pop release Furr, the Portland band has already made that much clear. And, Earley's considerable poetic talents and his band's hard-earned chops have gained them a growing international audience. The band's continuing exploration of American music that spans from the '60s folk movement to the country sounds of the '70s, to the pop balladry and prog rock of the '80s has earned it notice ranging from Rolling Stone magazine to late-night network television to Yo Gabba Gabba, among a great many others. Destroyer of the Void takes Blitzen Trapper one step further, building on the band's seamless marriage of the familiar and the fantastic to, literally, create an otherworldly experience.
But there is more to Blitzen Trapper than those traditions. More than anything, the band credits its music to its Pacific Northwest home. It is there that the six members came together ten years ago and formed a creative cauldron from which would emerge numerous novels, a locally-celebrated play based on the film Manos: The Hands of Fate, innumerable art projects and, of course, a flood of fantastical songs. Destroyer of the Void is only the latest work to emerge from this world, but it is one where their musical community is on full display.
During two distant and brief breaks from the band's near-incessant touring for Furr-one in January 2009 and the other in January 2010- Earley and a few of his bandmates entered the attic studio of the lauded Portland musician and studio engineer who had recorded Furr standouts 'Lady on the Water' and 'Black River Killer,' Mike Coykendall (Bright Eyes, M Ward, She & Him). In those two winters, in that old attic, Coykendall worked with Earley to bring life to these songs, including material the songwriter had been working on for years, most notably the piano ballad 'Sadie.' The producer wasn't the only local luminary to fill out the album. Preternatural musical siblings Peter Broderick (Horse Feathers, Efterklang) and Heather Woods Broderick (Efterklang) wrote the album's string arrangements, while folk standout Alela Diane lent her angelic vocals to the duet 'The Tree.'
The heart of Destroyer of the Void, though, is still found in Earley's meticulous songwriting. Here he is firmly in storyteller mode, expanding on the mythical world he created on Furr. That album introduced listeners to a ragged but beautiful world populated by mysterious killers, anthropomorphic narrators and benevolent women living in watery ways. Here, those characters are joined by a wandering tailor, a black-eyed lover, a flower-tongued balladeer and, of course, a host of lost lovers rolling along the road of life to a truly original American soundtrack.
PEARLY GATE MUSIC
Pearly Gate Music Interview: SXSW 2010
Posted on Mar 16th 2010 1:41PM by Mike BarzacchiniComments (0)
Pearly Gate Music is musician Zach Tillman. He makes thoughtful, expressive indie rock, hand-crafted on Casio keyboard and acoustic guitar, layered with vocal harmonies and handclaps, then lo- fi recorded, often in his own bedroom or basement. Songs like "If I Was a River," sound less played than poured straight from Tillman's heart.That sense of intimacy has created an instant connection between Pearly Gate Music and a growing number of fans in the Pacific Northwest.
Along with nurturing a solo career, Tillman records with and often opens on the road for brother Josh Tillman, Fleet Foxes' drummer and an accomplished indie singer-songwriter..
On the road to SXSW 2010, Pearly Gate Music shared this preview with Spinner.
Pearly Gate Music plays SXSW 2010 on Thursday, March 18.
Describe your sound in your own words.
This record is pretty bedroom fuzzy lo-fi, but only by nature of the fact that it was mostly recorded in my bedroom. The sound kind of grew out of my initial concept through collaboration and time to something that would be hard to reproduce live in an organic way, so we turned the song arrangements towards 50s garage for the performances.
How did you begin your music career?
Pretty strangely, actually. When I was 5 or 6, on Christmas, our family house caught on fire and I was trapped in the attic where I was putting the finishing touches on the handmade crafts I was gifting my parents and siblings that year. By the time the rescue crew got to me through the flames, I had been technically dead for at least three minutes and-- while I can't remember exactly what happened during that time-- when I came back I could sight read any piano sheet music that was put in front of me. I mean, literally, anything. Chopin, Monk, Mozart, anything. I forgot how to play piano a few years after and picked up guitar in high school.
What/Who are your influences?
Phil Elvrum, Kyle Thomas and Beyonce.
What are your current inspirations?
Lately I've only felt inspired to binge watch Lost in my underwear. And eat waffles.
What's the story behind the your name?
What's your biggest vice?
Either Peanut M&M's or Crystal Meth. Depends on the day.
What's in your SXSW survival kit?
A deer rifle. For when I do my Crystal Meth.
Who was your first celeb crush?
Fran Drescher. And I just recently got caught watching "The Nanny" in a motel on tour. I'm going to save the rest of this for a good therapist.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
I think the closest thing is that Ke$ha jam, 'Tik Tok'. But it's totally a great song, so I don't really feel that guilty about it.
Beatles or Stones?
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?
One time in San Francisco after playing the GAMH, I stayed up way too late watching "Jersey Shore" on the motel TV. The next morning I slept in until 11:30 a.m., half an hour after check out! We party pretty hard.
What are your hopes and dreams for your 2010 SXSW appearance this year?
I hope to be everyone's favorite act at the festival.
Why should SXSW attendees come to your showcase?
To watch a Pearly Gate Music live musical performance lasting 30-35 minutes.
What kind of adventures do you usually get into on the road?
Where's your hometown and how's the local support for your band?
It's Seattle, and really great actually. A lot of people have a strange attitude towards music in this city-- symptomatic of the big grunge hangover, i think-- but we've had nothing but dancing and good vibes at the shows so far. I think it's because my band is so handsome.
What are you doing when you're not making music?
Please see question #4.
High Noon Saloon
701A E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 18|
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|