Doors: 9pm Show: 10pm
When I was twenty-three I had a waking vision of a creature trying to get inside my apartment. At the time I couldn’t tell if it was malevolent or bent on my destruction since it would not speak but only scrabbled at the windows and beat on the walls. Whatever it was, it had wings and was terrifying. All night I piled furniture in front of the door to keep it from getting in, which seemed to work. I should mention that I also had a fever and was taking exotic narcotics to deal with it. The upshot of this episode was that I dropped out of school and began to write songs, to play music. This was not music that ever traveled, at least not for many years (my lower-class, small town upbringing ensured I had absolutely no ambition), but it was music that permeated everything. My friends and I lived together, made recordings, played occasional shows and mostly just worked out our demons through narcotic substance and song.
My theory now is that the creature at the door was not evil, but rather a silent angel whose presence forced me to jump the rails. It would be many years of playing and drinking before I would once again jump the rails at the request of my deceased father, become homeless and record Wild Mountain Nation in the old telegraph building. This was a similar change, one which made me travel, pushed Blitzen Trapper out onto the road. In 2007 our reluctant success came in the form of “Best New Music” recognition from Pitchfork for Wild Mountain Nation, a record that sounded like it had been authored by a drunken scarecrow who had been dragged behind a truck. This wasn’t far from the truth. At times I still miss sleeping by the river, cooking my meals on a hot plate, hiding knives around the old telegraph building so if I came in too late I’d have options if I got jumped. Old crack whores and dealers nodded off in the alcoves and alleys around the street. Cops would stop me at three in the morning to ask me what I was doing, “Oh, nothing officer, just looking for a quarter so I can make a call.” “Well if you break that payphone I’ll have to arrest you.”
Our first tour was with The Hold Steady, a three-week jaunt that saw us playing for a lot of people who just didn’t give a shit that we were there: typical and very informative. We camped our way back home, making hardly any money, but the record was selling and we kept going. We toured Europe and more of the States, played big festivals, Sasquatch! and others.