Blitzen Trapper

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Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper BaW.jpg
Blitzen Trapper performing at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon
Background information
Origin Portland, Oregon, USA
Genres Alternative country
Years active 2000–present
Labels Lidkercow Ltd.
Sub Pop, Vagrant Records, Lojinx
Members Eric Earley
Erik Menteer
Brian Adrian Koch
Michael Van Pelt
Marty Marquis
Past members Drew Laughery

Blitzen Trapper is a Portland, Oregon-based experimental country/folk band associated with Sub Pop Records,[1] Vagrant Records[2] and Lojinx.[3] Formed in 2000, the band currently operates as a quintet, with Eric Earley (guitar/harmonica/vocals/keyboard), Erik Menteer (guitar/keyboard), Brian Adrian Koch (drums/vocals/harmonica), Michael Van Pelt (bass), and Marty Marquis (guitar/keyboards/vocals/melodica).[4] Blitzen Trapper self-released its first three albums. "Wild Mountain Nation" was No. 98 on Rolling Stone‍ '​s list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.[5]

Blitzen Trapper released its third album, Wild Mountain Nation, in 2007 to much critical acclaim from critics such as Pitchfork Media, The Nerve, and Spin Magazine. The group signed to Sub Pop Records in the summer of 2007.

The release of Furr in 2008 was a high-water mark for the group as their eclectic new songs received a two-page feature in Rolling Stone. The album was ranked No. 13 on Rolling Stone's Best Albums of 2008[6] while the title track was ranked No. 4 on the magazine's Best Singles of 2008.[7]

In July 2013 it was announced their latest album "VII" would be released on October 1 on Vagrant Records in the USA and on British indie label Lojinx in Europe on September 30.[8]


2000–2007: Pre-Label[edit]

Blitzen Trapper formed in 2000 in Portland, Oregon under the name Garmonbozia, consisting of songwriter/lead singer Eric Earley, Erik Menteer (guitar, keyboard), Brian Adrian Koch (drums, vocals), Michael Van Pelt (bass), Drew Laughery (keyboard), and Marty Marquis (keyboard, vocals). As Garmonbozia, the band self-recorded four albums with homemade artwork, which they distributed at concerts. The four albums - The Group Presents: 1940, The Group Presents: Tremolopsi!, The Group Presents: Perms, Porn & the Gestalt, and The Group Presents: Omnibus and the Baker's Man (A Pretext For Black Movie Magic) - have never been made available commercially, although some of these early tracks have featured on later, official albums.[9]

In 2003, the band changed their name to Blitzen Trapper, a reference to singer Eric Earley's seventh-grade girlfriend, who kept a Trapper Keeper binder and drew pictures of Santa Claus and his reindeer on it, her favorite reindeer being Blitzen.[10] Under the new name, the band recorded their first effort, Trapper, but it, too, was not released commercially. In 2003, they finally released their first commercial album, the eponymous Blitzen Trapper, on their own label LidKerCow Ltd. A decade later, Eric Earley barely recalled the recording process:

I don’t remember much about making this first record, too long ago maybe. I guess I remember this Mexican dive bar we’d go to after sessions with GW (Gregg Williams) who was engineering the record. We’d drink tequila and play pool and watch Blazers games. Drew took the cover shot down at the coast at some junk shop off the highway. An Indian and a zebra. That says it all.[11]

Blitzen Trapper failed to make much of an initial impact, and was soon followed by 2004's Field Rexx, also released on LidKerCow. According to the liner notes, Rexx was "Recorded at the carny shack, fer shook n timsel on Duke’s shoot-o-matic for tisks & soda & that ol’ broke 4-track what 3-fingrd mike poured old English on and lit on fire." For the first time, Blitzen Trapper received some national attention; Chicago-based pop-culture review site Pitchfork reviewed the album, giving it an impressive 7.0 out of 10.[12] Comparing the album to artists as diverse as Beck, Willie Nelson, and Rogue Wave, Pitchfork stated, "their sophomore effort shouldn't be dismissed as fluff -- Field Rexx is an earnest crack at bluegrass, country, and folk that's young and brazen enough to incorporate elements from multiple genres."

Blitzen Trapper struggled with their follow-up to Field Rexx, recording a full album of tracks titled Waking Bullets at Breakneck Speed. Publicist Matt Wright later stated that, "Waking Bullets just wasn't really coming together as an album," and the project was shelved.[13] Wright then released a promo EP to blogs titled Blitzen Trapper Advance Album Sampler Promo Thingy, containing the track "On a Dime," which was later included on the Portland-based PDX Pop Now! 2006 compilation album.

This paved the way for Blitzen Trapper's breakthrough album, 2007's Wild Mountain Nation, which Earley describes as " a record that sounded like it had been authored by a drunken scarecrow who had been dragged behind a truck."[14] Their final self-released full-length studio record, Nation found even more acclaim with critics than Field Rexx. raved that "Wild Mountain Nation is indeed a rare gift—a music reviewer’s dream come true."[15] Pitchfork rated the record "Best New Music" and granted an 8.5-star review, stating, "Compared to their previous albums, Wild Mountain Nation has a newfound and audible confidence. It's the work of an assured band who can not only treat genre like so much fingerpaint, but brave enough to play it straight for a minute -- not as an empty exercise, but a chance to aspire ... Wild Mountain Nation is a revelation from beginning to end."[16] For the first time, Blitzen Trapper released an official music video, a half-animated/half-live action clip promoting the title track, directed by Orie Weeks III. Rolling Stone named the track one of the best of 2007, placing it at 98 and calling it "A shambling, hypermelodic jam from Portland, Oregon, indie boys down with Native American culture ... and the best Grateful Dead knockoff in forever."[17] The influential magazine Spin promoted an exclusive track titled "Boss King," which raised awareness of the group despite the fact that the song wasn't on the new record.[18]

In September of 2007, acclaimed indie studio Daytrotter conducted their first interview with Blitzen Trapper and invited the group to perform four acoustic tracks; this was the start of a long relationship between the band and the studio.[19] A month later, the band released their first EP, containing outtakes from Wild Mountain Nation (including "Boss King"), as well as "Jericho," a song from the Daytrotter session that is the first Blitzen Trapper song to not feature Earley on lead vocals (Marty Marquis, who wrote the song, does the honors).[20]

In 2007, Blitzen Trapper signed to the indie label Sub Pop; their greatest commercial success lay just ahead.

2008–2012: Sub Pop[edit]

In September 2008, Blitzen Trapper released their first record for Sub Pop records, Furr, to near-universal critical acclaim.


Bandleader Eric Earley, who began playing music at the age of three, writes most of the band's music.[21]



Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Label
2003 Blitzen Trapper Lidkercow Ltd.
2004 Field Rexx Lidkercow Ltd.
2007 Wild Mountain Nation Lidkercow Ltd. / Sub Pop (UK/EU)
2008 Furr Sub Pop
2010 Destroyer of the Void Sub Pop
2011 American Goldwing[22] Sub Pop
2013 VII[23] Vagrant Records / Lojinx

Live albums[edit]

Year Title Label
2014 Live In Portland Lidkercow Ltd.
2015 Live Harvest Vagrant Records

Album reissue[edit]

Year Title Label
2013 Blitzen Trapper Deluxe Reissue[24] Lidkercow Ltd.


Year Title Label
2008 Cool Love No. 1 Lidkercow Ltd.
2009 Black River Killer Sub Pop

7" Singles[edit]

Year Title Label
2009 War is Placebo[25] Sub Pop
2011 Maybe Baby[26] Sub Pop
2012 Hey Joe[27] Sub Pop


  1. ^ Solarski, M. (2007). Blitzen Trapper Step Into the Sub Pop Stable Retrieved August 8, 2007.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hopkin, K. Blitzen Trapper - Biography. AllMusic Guide. Retrieved August 8, 2007.
  5. ^ No byline (December 11, 2007). "The 100 Best Songs of 2007" Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-21
  6. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  7. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  8. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  12. ^ "Blitzen Trapper: Field Rexx". 
  13. ^ "Waking Bullets at Breakneck Speed". 
  14. ^ Earley, Eric. "Blitzen Trapper". SubPop. 
  15. ^ Womack, Tyler. "Blitzen Trapper: Wild Mountain Nation". PopMatters. 
  16. ^ Crock, Jason. "Blitzen Trapper: Wild Mountain Nation". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "Rolling Stone Magazine The 100 Best Songs Of 2007". PopCrunch. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  18. ^ "Blitzen Trapper’s ‘Wild’ New Track". Spin.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  19. ^ Moeller, Sean. "Not Just Dressing Up Antiquity In Rags Of The Same". Daytrotter. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  20. ^ "Blitzen Trapper Tour, Prep EP". Spin. 
  21. ^ "Interview: Blitzen Trapper (Vol. II, No. 1)". Inflatable Ferret. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  22. ^ "Sub Pop Records : Blitzen Trapper : American Goldwing". 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  23. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "Sub Pop Records : Blitzen Trapper : War Is Placebo". 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  26. ^ "Sub Pop Records : Blitzen Trapper : Maybe Baby". 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  27. ^ "Sub Pop Records : Blitzen Trapper : Hey Joe". 

External links[edit]