Blitzen Trapper's output is decidedly more palatable than the sonic detritus showering our conversation: Imagine Pavement's sprawling Wowee Zowee crossed with an Eagles greatest-hits collection, and a CD-R compilation of Elephant 6 Collective highlights. On 2007's dynamite, self-released Wild Mountain Nation, country jousts with art rock, Brit invasion pop do-si-dos with techno, and bluegrass flirts with psychedelia; all the while, songwriter/lyricist Earley is spinning impressionist, fantastical vocal yarns that complement the Super Glue-y riffage he's cooked up. Given the stylistic inbreeding, his day-to-day disc rotation comes as a bit of a surprise.
"I have old favorites that I always listen to — a lot of old country music, like Merle Haggard, a lot of Sonic Youth, Pavement, and punk stuff from my younger days," he says. "In high school, Sonic Youth was my favorite band. [BT keyboardist] Drew Laughery and I saw them, like, eight times! These days, I'm more into songwriting stuff — [Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore's] Trees Outside the Academy was really engaging."
Formed in the Portland area at the beginning of the millennium, Blitzen Trapper built a solid rep through tours, boisterously catchy compilation singles, and a pair of self-released albums (2003's Blitzen Trapper and 2004's Field Rexx) before breaking out of the indie-rock farm-team field with Nation's jerky schizo-sprawl of odes to sci-fi kids, hillbilly hoedowns, sunny indie rock, and twangy back-to-nature anthems. Even before signing a label contract last year, the band was self-sustaining enough that its members haven't worked day jobs for three years.
Given all that — and the fact that Earley's been obsessing over African music lately — the group's Sub Pop debut could be as merrily catchy and twisted as its back catalog or it could veer off in a totally different direction.
Earley's comments on the as-yet-unnamed new album are tantalizingly evasive: "It's pretty much done; we recorded 35 songs. It'll probably come out in another three to four months — it depends on what Sub Pop wants to do. It'll probably be like Nation, but it's gonna be different — a little more under control. But at the same time, I think it covers a little more ground in terms of genre and scope."