"I think this is the best album I've ever made," Blitzen Trapper
's frontman Eric Earley tells me over the phone. His voice is older, wiser, and I can tell he's had this conversation so many times before. I can imagine he's used to being interviewed since he's been playing with Blitzen Trapper for fifteen years already. The band just released their eighth album together, All Across This Land
, this month, and Earley thinks it's the biggest sound to come from the Portland rockers.
"Production wise, it just sounds bigger," Earley said. "We've done so many DIY recordings for so many years in different ways and this one and this one was definitely more like wanting to make it the big, 'good-sounding' studio record."
He wrote the album quickly, in roughly a three or four month period. In writing the album so quickly, Earley said he wants this album to be taken as a whole, not necessarily by an individual single or track.
"I'll kinda just write a group of songs together that sort of play off of one another. I think that's what this record kind of does. I've done other records where the songs weren't written very close together and they don't necessarily have the same relationship with one another. But this one...definitely. They were all kind of part of the same thought."
Other than the work done in the production studio, Earley told me fans can still expect the Blitzen Trapper personality from this album. The sound might be bigger, but the nature of the music hasn't changed. Earley has been known to experiment with genres and sounds, especially between the different albums the band has released nearly once a year. This album is "folk-rock country" as Earley calls it, and he feels it's quite simple musically.
The approach Earley took with this album was to keep the music simple, and continue his narrative lyrical style. There are many songs on this album that are quite personal to the frontman, and he said he doesn't know any other way to write.
He's most proud of "Cadillac Road" and "Across the River," because these two tracks are the most
narrative of the album.
"Lyrically they're just the most interesting to me," he said. "I'm not sure if I'm even capable of writing if it's not personal...I just want to write about what I know. Otherwise, it's not real. it's not authentic to me."
Earley doesn't believe he'll ever stop writing lyrics. He writes all the time, and imagines his next work will be about his recent marriage and other recent life changes. Even though he knows he'll keep writing, he's not quite sure Blitzen Trapper has another fifteen years ahead of them.
"At this point it's hard to say if we have the fanbase to keep going for the next record. We used to, but now we just don't know," Earley told me. "Pretty much we've just been going record to record, and if that record is allowing us not to have to get day jobs and quit touring, then we will."
Whether this album is the last we'll hear from Blitzen Trapper or not, Earley assured me that he and the band will be playing for as long as they can, and that authenticity in what he creates is one thing that will never be compromised.
[Ed. Note: And be sure to watch our concert with a much younger Blitzen Trapper below.]