If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out Blitzen Trapper, I suggest you do so. Which album to start with? Well, Dandy Warhols drummer Brent DeBoer recently told IF that their 2008 breakout album Furr “ranks up there with anything Neil Young or The Beatles ever did.” If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is. Furr featured brilliantly written, classic sounding tracks like “Black River Killer” and “God and Suicide”, and it gained them both critical acclaim and a rock/country following. IF’s Tom Kutilek caught up with band leaders Eric Earley and Marty Marquis (no, those aren’t stripper names) in Lawrence during some down time in between recording, which, for these guys, consists of touring…and more touring.
Inflatable Ferret: My buddy saw you guys play in New York, and he said you guys covered “The Gambler” by Kenny Rodgers.
Marty Marquis: We played a little bit of it, yeah.
Eric Earley: Marty knows the whole song.
Marty: We did three versus and a chorus. It’s an epic tune, kind of like “Desolation Row” – something that just goes on and on. Maybe one day we’ll perform it in full.
IF: Have you done any Dylan covers, like “Desolation Row”?
Eric: Haha no that’s far too long.
Marty: Yeah, nobody could remember all those words, they’d probably just get lost in them. We’ve never played any Dylan covers.
Eric: We’ve played Neil Young covers.
Marty: Neil Young comes like hiccups kind of, it’s involuntary, like some sort of epilepsy or something.
IF: You played in Omaha recently?
Marty: Last night.
IF: What’d you all think of it?
Marty: Omaha’s fine yeah, that was like the 5th time we’ve been there. Last night we were at the Waiting Room.
IF: I know it’s hard to pin down to one certain artist, like you said you’ve done Neil Young covers. Are Neil Young and Bob Dylan main influences and are there others?
Eric: Yeah on Furr there’s a lot of Neil and Dylan and classic sort of 70’s rock stuff. But I think there’s a lot of British rock too in Furr and some of the hard rock stuff. I think the record before that [Wild Mountain Nation] was not bad at all though. That record was much more like Pavement, Sonic Youth exploration.
IF: If you guys weren’t doing this for a living what would you be doing? Did you plan on doing this since you were younger?
Marty: I don’t know, we didn’t really plan this. I mean, we like to play music, but…I don’t know it’s weird, because this band we’re touring with, Wye Oak – they’re really young, like early 20’s. Probably like you guys are, I’m not sure how old you are?
Marty: See, you probably know you want to be a music journalist or something, making contacts and focusing down and doing this. And a lot of the bands we work with are the same way, but for us, when we were that age we had no idea.
Eric: When I was 21 I was hitch-hiking and drinking a lot and doing drugs. That’s pretty much all we did up until a couple of years ago.
Marty: It kind of seems like we were destined to be doing this because it’s nothing we ever really focused on or worked towards in a rational, systematic way, it just kind of happened. It was just something that was meant to be. But um, yeah I don’t know what I’d be doing. I’d be insane if I wasn’t doing this, in a gutter somewhere.
Eric: (laughs) Really?
IF: Have you played music since you were young?
Marty: Not me, although I’ve been around the stage since I was young because my father was an actor and he played some music. I’ve been around the stage since I was three. Eric’s been playing music since he was three and his parents were musicians. He’s been playing jazz ever since his mom was pregnant with him. [to Eric] You were probably playing drums while you were in there.
IF: When you guys create these songs what’s your formation process?
Marty: Eric writes most everything.
IF: When it comes to adding in parts to a song, do others add what they want to?
Eric: I generally arrange everything in my head before I even record it really. It changes a lot.
IF: Have you thought about your next record or when it may come out?
Eric: Yeah I’ve been recording songs since January for another record. There’s like 13 that are recorded, I don’t know I’ve kinda been heading in this new direction. When I get back from Australia I’ll keep recording and hopefully finish the record this year.
IF: Did you guys follow the Dandy Warhols at all since you’re from the same area, and was there any influence at all?
Eric: Yeah, maybe a little bit, they were around when I was in high school.
IF: Are you based out of Portland mostly or do you travel more often?
Eric: Yeah, we’re all from Portland, and our homes are all there.
Marty: We’re there half the year maybe.
Eric: This year I’ve seen most of the Portland bands on the road more than at home probably. I used to hang out with Brent [DeBoer] and we’d run into a lot of them on the road. We also hung out with them in Germany.
IF: Brent talked a lot about how the radio in the U.S. doesn’t play a lot of their music, and how a lot of the music played on the radio here is crappy.
Eric: I think the radio in general is kind of dumb. A lot of people don’t listen to it as a way of finding music – it’s more just filler. A lot of people listen to it on Satellite Radio or on the internet, or you can just surf on iTunes and find music that way. To me, the stations do what they want as a means of making money. But really, if you’re interested in music you’ll find it through these other means that are opened to us now digitally.
Marty: The exceptions may be like college radio stations and community stations around the country because those guys don’t care. They’ll take a chance and play whatever is good, but they’re not advertising for themselves at all.
Eric: NPR is one. They’ve pushed us in a lot of good ways, and they’re definitely good for having shows for indie bands.
IF: Did you guys meet Bob Boylan?
Marty: Yeah we interviewed with him and he was very nice. He’s really passionate about music and a big fan of us. I didn’t know he was like this legendary guy, but now I have this little button with a picture of his head on it. “Music that’s ‘Boylan-ing’ good.” Haha.
IF: What would you recommend be changed about the radio in the U.S.? Europe seems to do it in a different way.
Eric: It’s doing better here than in Europe. In Europe the entire music industry is controlled by the British press, the British press is entirely controlled by large magazines. Basically two magazines, Mojo and NME. And all of Europe then feeds off what the British press does. Where as in America it’s much more diverse. There’s a lot more grass roots stuff that’s able to go on. As far as recommendations for the states – to me, the music industry is this creature that’s slowly evolving in all these weird ways, and in the end it’s evolving in democratic ways because of the internet. People choose to buy records because they like them, not because it’s forced upon them necessarily.
Marty: Yeah, I mean, what do you do, outlaw Taylor Swift?
Eric: In the end the popularity of certain artists illuminates our society as a whole, it’s no one’s fault – it’s just that our society’s really into the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. And why? I don’t know.
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