Larry Heath caught up with Portland's Blitzen Trapper backstage at the recent Bluesfest in Byron Bay to chat Portlandia, their Australian tour, today's Record Store Day release, catching up with Dawes and much more...
How you feeling?
Good, not too bad!
How did the Sydney show go the other night? I heard really good things about it...
It was good. It was really fun. It was a good stage and the crowd seemed more animated then Melbourne.
It’s that vibe where they like it but cross their arms and they’re like 'we’re not going to let you know'.
I’ve been watching a lot of Portlandia lately, how accurate is it?
Well it’s accurate, it’s parody so it’s amplifying things that exist in Portland. Why do you guys watch it? We’ve had people ask us about it.
It just came on TV, it just started showing in its first season.
Well Brian was in the first episode. We’ve had a lot of friends that have been it.
Oh were you? What were you doing on it?
In the library doing hide and seek. I feel lucky that I got in the first episode because that’s the one that everyone watches… And then they stop watching it after they see what it’s about. No one in Portland watches TV anyway.
There seems like a great music scene there, like you and the Decemberists, what is the scene like?
It’s us and the Decemberists, that’s it. There’s probably a thousand bands. There’s bands on every level... Modest Mouse…some huge bands…Wildfire too. There’s a least a hundred venues too so if you want a gig it’s easy. It’s good for bands starting out. We play there like once a year maybe.
How often do you get to be home these days?
Maybe half a year. Well the last year and a half we hardly toured at all, so it just depends.
Well you guys have cranked out a lot of music over the last few years, two albums in the last two years. Six albums in, how are you feeling about the music? It’s the first time you guys let other people into the process, how did that change things?
It’s always good to get other people on things but I don’t want to think about it too much.
I got sent the album last year and it feels like a progression. Where do you go from here (in terms of music)?
The music, I’m sure it will progress but I don’t think there is any plan. I just approach it like song writing not like 'we’re going to do this'.
Do you write anywhere but home?
No, not really…
Do you think you could?
I don’t set out to write songs to be honest, I write a whole album. When I start writing songs I just write them. It’s hard when you’re touring to have energy to do anything except perform well and get to where you’re meant to be. A large amount of time is taken up with driving ourselves around and then when we get to where we are we work till really late and get up in the morning and do it again. There just isn’t a lot of time and there aren’t hours and hours of empty blocks of time to get into it.
So how many times have you been down here (in Australia) now?
This is our second time. Contrary to popular opinion.
It’s only your second time? I thought you guys were here more recently?
It’s been written that way but it’s not true. We were here in 2009 and this is the next time.
Well it’s good to see you guys back now and the thing to plug here is you have a seven inch coming out on Record Store Day?
Yeah! You guys have Record Store Day here?
Yeah, travels around and we’ll probably get two record stores that will get two records of your yellow label vinyl.
So get it while you can!
Do you guys have any control on what happens on Record Store Day?
Yeah we say 'here are some songs', and in the States there seems to be a lot of people that collect vinyl and they always seem to sell out really fast.
It’s good beer money…
Well we don’t see any of that! But it’s good promo. It’s a fetish item.
How do you feel your music sounds on vinyl, do you prefer your sound on vinyl.
Yeah sounds good. Sounds better usually. I’m usually so involved with the initial product and mixing I don’t really listen to that.
Did you back of a little bit with the mixing on this record?
Yeah well he was in Wales and every night he would send be a little bit and I’d put in my input.
That was Chad Blake? He’s been doing it for awhile...
He was good, fun to work with.
For the next record do you think you will bring other people on board again?
Yeah I will probably have someone mix it, I like doing that.
Well we can’t wait to hear what comes next, how much longer have you got on the road?
We’ll have little breaks throughout the year but it will be busy.
You’ve come at a good time, your friend Dawes is here too… are getting to see any other bands while you’re here?
Yeah whatever we can catch. But I don’t really know much of the bands besides some of the big ones. I’ll try to catch Justin Townes Earle later in the night. We saw him over in Perth. He’s good. I’ll probably retire back to the hotel!
Well wish you all the best while you’re here, thanks for taking the time!