Blitzen Trapper feels no pressure to recreate on past success

Blitzen Trapper isn’t a band that necessarily strives to impress. Regardless, in recent years the Portland-based sextet has managed to do just that, and then some. Blending folk, blues, and indie-rock, with hint of pop and country, the band has proved to reach across a far spectrum of sound. Moreover, their music is embedded with profound storytelling through the alluring vocals of lead singer and guitarist Eric Earley.
After independently releasing their breakthrough album Wild Mountain Nation in 2007, these indie-folk rockers were signed to Sub Pop Records, and have since plowed through the underground music front, attracting quite the extensive fan base and media attention.
The following record, Furr, released in 2008, has gained even greater critical acclaim, landing as #13 “Best Album of 2008” in Rolling Stone, and with the title track attaining the #4 spot on the list for “Best Single of 2008.” The album also yielded extensive, positive reviews with The Nerve, Pitchfork Media, and Spin Magazine.
Of course, the band didn’t always know such fame when the members began assembling back in 2000. As Earley said, “We weren’t really Blitzen Trapper back then — not really until 2005. We were just messing around, playing and writing music back in Portland.”
It’s clear that the band has come a long way throughout the decade, but their attitudes on music remain consistent despite the recent hype surrounding them. “Besides having the opportunity to tour more,” Earley said, “the only difference is that there is a machine behind you promoting you, and you play for larger audiences.”
There is no evident pursuit of fame and profit; Blitzen Trapper is still making music for the sake of creating tasteful tunes and putting on thrilling performances — both of which they have proved to excel at.
During their current tour, Blitzen Trapper stopped by Canopy Club in Urbana on Friday, October 16. However, after touring for months, the sextet plans on spending a large chunk of next year writing and recording for a new album. Earley said, “I don’t know if people expect this album to be folk or what. It’ll definitely be different than the other ones.”
Looking at the dynamic essence of their previous efforts, creating something “different” seems only expected. While Wild Mountain Nation is grounded in much more of an heavier, experimental rock sound with smaller hint of folk, Furr brings out much bolder notions of folk-rock.
Their most recent EP is quite diverse in nature as well. Its eclecticism is in part because Black River Killer is almost entirely compiled of songs written or recorded years ago which never made the cut onto previous albums. It begins with the title track, “Black River Killer” — a dark, murder ballad with a haunting fusion of instruments — but is able to effectively transition to catchy songs that mingle between folk and pop. Gentle, rugged vocals that depict desolate scenes transform to become optimistic, punchy, and higher pitched between tracks.
After these past two albums and EP, there is no denying that the public is anticipating something truly gripping ahead. However, despite the spike of recent critical acclaim, Earley made no notion of intimidation, stating with nonchalance, “Pressure? I never really feel any pressure. I never feel like I have to prove anything.”
Righteously said. He already has. Along with the rest of the crew, Blitzen Trapper has proven to be able to fuze several genres into an authentic, versatile sound while delving into lyrical themes of nature, love, beauty, and truth.

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