By Mike Dunn
CALGARY – A decade has passed since the release of Furr, Blitzen Trapper’s first outing for Sub Pop that was critically praised for its diverse landscape and off-the-rails joyride. To mark the occasion, the Portland-based band is heading out on the road to revisit the songs and twists and turns of their most successful record to date.
“Lots of people connected with that record. It’s funny, there are some songs on the record we never actually played live,” says Eric Earley, the band’s main songwriter. “We were paying attention to all kinds of stuff at the time, and so there are a lot of influences from here and there on that record. A lot of classic, canonical stuff like The Stones, Beatles and some more piano-driven stuff like Elton John and such.”
Furr gets a bit messy here and there, with harmonies influenced by The Byrds but performed with the laissez-faire of The Faces. Earley’s vocals tend to range from Dylan’s mid-range to a higher, candy-coated Petty on “Fire and Fast Bullets”, and the band’s willingness to experiment with tones and atmosphere is present throughout. In addition, the woody howls, whistles and shakes on the title track along with some classic, tuneful hooks bring songs like “God and Suicide” and “Saturday Nite” to sugary life, flowing with the giddy energy of full flower-power 1967.
As the album goes on, some of the band’s more experimental passages, come to really define the record as an album, rather than a collection of singles. “The experimental stuff is really fun to do, and you’re making an album, you really want to cover some territory,” says Earley who feels “the record” petered out in the late 2000s. “People tend to listen more to songs now. Back then there was still more of an appetite for records, and the hunger to take some left turns here and there.”
Blizten Trapper play Festival Hall (Calgary) on Monday, Sept. 17.Blitzen Trapper, Festival Hall