Joni Deutsch Published

Blitzen Trapper Return to West Virginia with "Straight-Up Guitar Rock"


After 5 years of being away from the Mountain State, Portland alt rock band Blitzen Trapper return to Mountain Stage in Morgantown this weekend with a new record in town.

We sat down with the band’s frontman Eric Earley to talk about their eighth studio release All Across this Land, their ties to David Bowie and Tom Petty, and what’s in a name (specifically, theirs).

Blitzen Trapper released their eighth full-length All Across this Land via Vagrant Records this past October. You can follow the band on social media and see them live on Mountain Stage in Morgantown this Sunday, January 17. To hear more of their music, tune in to ‘A Change of Tune,’ airing Saturdays at 10pm EST on West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Interview Highlights

On David Bowie:

I definitely listened a lot to David Bowie when I was younger. I think the aesthetic that I pulled from David Bowie is similar to the aesthetic that I pulled from The Beatles when I was younger… Sort of the idea that the song is more than just a song. And Bowie especially brought this theatrical element to it which, I think early on in Blitzen Trapper, we had a little bit of those influences going on. And also I think David Bowie had this ability to have every record be vastly different, which I think Blitzen Trapper does quite a bit as well… [but] we’ve never dressed in full-body spandex.

On recent fan interactions:

There’s always weird interactions, like one fan was trying to steal my shirt… she offered me $200 for my shirt! I didn’t [take it], but in hindsight, I probably should have. I don’t think I paid anything for that shirt. It didn’t even have sleeves. It would have been like selling a shop rag or something. Well, I think she was pretty wasted. Her deal was probably flawed in certain ways. She was trying to get our drummer to steal it from me backstage and sell it to her… or give it to her or something.  That’s the stuff you remember though, the weird crap.

On their new release All Across this Land:

I was kind of looking back at all of our records and being like, “What’s the stuff that I like the most that I’ve gotten into? And what’s the thing that I can do the best (at least, in my mind)?” For me, I wanted to make a record that had all the things that I love about Blitzen Trapper, but also the things our fans are into when we’re on stage. So I feel like this record has a lot of guitar rock and guitar songs and storytelling. It’s all pretty simple and straightforward. There’s not a lot of effects, not a lot of bells and whistles. It’s just a straight-up guitar rock record.

On Tom Petty comparisons:

When you think of the platonic ideal of guitar rock, minus all the solos or any kind of flamboyant hair or spandex, you think of Tom Petty. He’s like the baseline. He’s not trying to do anything over the top, yet his songs are super solid. So sure, that’s a great compliment for any band that’s playing guitar rock like we are.

On their last Mountain Stage appearance in 2011 (which also featured Dawes, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, James McMurtry and Matthew Sweet)

That was a fun show. I was kind of stoked to see Matthew Sweet because when I was in high school, he was a big deal. It was so cool to see him play… I think that’s my most vivid memory of it, just watching him play guitar.

On being asked about doing a surprise cover at this weekend’s Mountain Stage (more specifically, a cover of Ariana Grande):

Ariana Grande? I don’t even know what that is… Oh, is that a singer? Sounds like a coffee beverage [laughing]. Well now that I know about it, maybe I will!

On the band’s original name Garmonbozia, which was inspired by Twin Peaks mythology:

We were really dumb and we watched a lot of Twin Peaks, because we were living in Oregon back in those days when things here were bleak and dark and no one wanted to move here.

On the band’s current name Blitzen Trapper:

I’ve told so many lies about this over the years, I’m not sure which lie you’ve heard… It was back in those days when we were all really wasted all the time, and we were dumb. I honestly don’t even know where the name came from. I can’t remember much from my 20s. That memory is gone for me.