Blitzen Trapper

(Biography by Kenyon Hopkin)

Oregon's Blitzen Trapper emerged in 2000 with an eclectic style that combines elements of country, folk, Southern rock, and progressive Americana. The band elicited critical acclaim in 2007 for their independently released third album Wild Mountain Nation, which landed them a deal with Sub Pop. They hit a creative peak with 2008's Furr, a collection of 13 songs that boiled down their many influences into a cohesive, unique Americana sound, and continued to flex their creative muscle and garner accolades on subsequent efforts like American Goldwing (2011), All Across This Land (2015), and Holy Smokes Future Jokes (2020).

Blitzen Trapper formed in 2000 in Portland, Oregon, with songwriter Eric Earley leading a lineup that also included Erik Menteer (guitar, keyboard), Brian Adrian Koch (drums, vocals), Michael Van Pelt (bass), Drew Laughery (keyboard), and Marty Marquis (keyboard, vocals). Before signing a record contract in 2007, the band released three albums on its own dime: an eponymous effort in 2003, Field Rexx in 2005, and the highly acclaimed Wild Mountain Nation in 2007. The latter effort resulted in a record deal with Sub Pop.

With Sub Pop's help, the group had their most successful outing to date with 2008's acclaimed Furr, which appeared on numerous critics' year-end best-of lists. The Black River Killer EP followed in 2009, and the group spent part of that year working on a new full-length release, which arrived one year later in the form of the progressive-minded Destroyer of the Void. Laughery left the band after a subsequent tour, and when it came time to record the band's third Sub Pop release, American Goldwing, Blitzen Trapper opened the studio doors to outside collaborators for the first time, with Tchad Blake mixing the record and Gregg Williams co-producing. Musically, though, the guys kept things entirely within the family, reaching back to their '70s country and Southern rock influences without losing their contemporary appeal.

Their seventh studio album, VII, arrived in September 2013 after a new partnership with Vagrant Records, and Blitzen Trapper recorded their first live album that November at the Doug Fir Lounge. Live in Portland was self-released as a free download in 2014. Seeking to capture that live sound in the studio, their eighth studio album, the looser All Across This Land, was issued the following year on Vagrant. In 2017, the band released the ambitious concept LP/rock opera Wild and Reckless, which served as both a companion to and extension of their acclaimed 2008 release Furr. The band kept Furr alive in 2018 via an expanded tenth-anniversary edition of the album, which was also supported by a commemorative tour. The band moved over to Yep Roc for their tenth full-length effort, 2020's Holy Smokes Future Jokes.

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