Saturday Jul 27 5:30 PM
on DREAMING CREEK MAIN STAGE
When I was twenty-three I had a waking vision of a creature trying to get inside my apartment. At the time I couldn’t tell if it was malevolent and bent on my destruction since it would not speak but only scrabbled at the windows and beat on the walls. Whatever it was, it had wings and was terrifying. All night I piled furniture in front of the door to keep it from getting in, which seemed to work. I should mention that I also had a fever and was taking exotic narcotics to deal with it. The upshot of this episode was that I dropped out of school and began to write songs, to play music. This was not music that ever traveled, at least not for many years (my lower-class, small town upbringing ensured I had absolutely no ambition), but it was music that permeated everything. My friends and I lived together, made recordings, played occasional shows and mostly just worked out our demons through narcotic substances and song.
Our first tour was with The Hold Steady, a three-week jaunt that saw us playing for a lot of people who just didn’t give a shit that we were there: typical and very informative. We camped our way back home, making hardly any money, but the record was selling and we kept going. We toured Europe and more of the States, played big festivals, Sasquatch! and others.
Furr came next, our first Sub Pop release, which I also made at the old telegraph building. We were touring so much that being homeless was really quite relaxing compared to the road. But Furr was a record that spoke from new perspectives we’d gained on the road. It was me becoming aware of the past I’d been trying to forget, and of the greater world around me. It’s no surprise that the opening track is a dream-like treatise on the state of the western world. With this record we played TV for the first time, on the old Conan late night show and we started touring with heroes from my younger days: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Iron and Wine, a small tour with Wilco. Numerous Blitzen Trapper songs appeared in television shows and commercials and movies, we played more of the big festivals, Coachella, Monolith, Pitchfork. All of this stuff can, should and in this case did go along with making a timely, honest record. And, on top of that, I was no longer homeless. It was at this time that I began to see that people were inspired by my songs, obsessive in many cases. The record kept selling and selling, and is still selling even today. And so we took a break from touring, from everything.
And then a certain tragedy struck me, a death of which I can’t speak, and I began writing. I wrote American Goldwing, our third Sub Pop release, in a span of six months, recorded most of it, and then we went on tour for Destroyer of the Void. We did more TV, including the Jimmy Fallon show, and we played for the biggest crowds we’d ever performed for at festivals through the summer (Lollapalooza, Newport Folk Festival, etc.), all the time knowing that this new record I’d recorded was the real record, the Blitzen Trapper record to come.