Like Midlake, Cotton Jones and Sub Pop labelmates Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper is a key player in the current outpouring of poignant lo-fi rock influenced by '70s legends like CSNY, the Band and Neil Young. However, spearheaded by the quixotic lyrics and vocals of Eric Earley, Blitzen Trapper stands out among its more folk-rock-inclined peers by throwing prog rock into the mix. We caught up with Earley recently and asked him about his home town's reputation for producing musical talent and how one of his band's songs ended up on Chuck.
Westword: Why are so many great bands coming from Portland? Is it the landscape that inspires you, or just all the strip clubs?
Eric Earley: Well it might be the a combination of the two: Imagine walking through a dense forest of fir and knotty pine and coming upon a crystal-domed strip club smelling of stale cigarettes and spilled Jack Daniel's, and not only are there hoary old men in stained suits sitting to watch at the stage, but mule deer and spotted owls, as well as black bears and porcupines, all sitting attentively and sticking damp dollar bills in the g-strings of pale exotic dancers.
How did having a song on Chuck come about, and what was it like to hear/see your music in that context?
I'm not really sure how it came about. I found the song distracting for me while really trying to comprehend the show's intricate plot, for TV is my life.
I've read that Borges and Calvino have influenced your lyrics. Was literature always an influence on your songs? What books have affected you lately?
Lately I've been reading Hemingway and paperback fantasy by several writers. I like a good mixture of lowbrow and literature. Western pulp and Japanimation also play an integral role in the creative process, as well as TV like Mr. Belvedere and Sledgehammer.
Do you prefer this new tour- and blog-based music world, or do you sometimes crave the days when a hit single could mean being able to spend a year off the road writing and recording?
I'd kill to have a year off to write and record. Might be a good plan.
Why do you think this whole indie-Americana scene has been exploding the past few years with you guys, Fleet Foxes, Dr. Dog, Midlake, etc.?
It was in the stars, I guess.