A difficult one to write about, Blitzen Trapper. All I know is that they are from Portland, Oregon and that their new album, Wild Mountain Nation, has some superb moments.

Check the thoroughbred Americana title track, with its sleazy motif riff, or ‘The Green King Sings’, which comes on like the Super Furry Animals if they weren’t such bloomin’ stoners – slicker, quicker, leaner, fitter, more direct. Brilliant. There’s a gorgeous acoustic ballad in there – ‘Summer Town’, with affecting lyrics and a sweetly delivered chorus – to name a few of the many pop zeniths scaled, via various unique and thoughtfully mapped-out paths, on this terrific LP.

Words about musicians are nothing but a distraction, sometimes, or at least Blitzen Trapper clearly feel that way. Their press release does everything it can to keep the band’s identity a secret. No individual glory seekers, these musical brothers; it’s all about the sound. Not about the music, maaan, these are not preening musos. The sound is too busy and joyful for that.

Music made by egotistical males can be the most pompous, boring and futile exercise on the planet; Blitzen Trapper, even at their most willful, never sound pompous, boring, or pointless. For me, an album which stripped out the silly (the country hoe-down ‘Wild Mountain Jam’ and the bizarre (‘Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant’s Hem’) and replaced these more self-indulgent elements with more pop-rock belters a la ‘Sci-Fi Kid’ would be a treasure and could quite easily put the group up there, in commercial terms, with the Shins of this world. But maybe they’re a bit too rough-hewn and rugged to go that far into the mainstream and maybe, in reality, if I didn’t see the flaws, the gems wouldn’t shine quite so bright.

Contrast is important.

E. Earley of the band was good enough to field a few questions, which constituted me doing little more than groping in the dark for a light switch.

>>>OK E, HERE GOES NOTHING! THANKS A LOT, OLLIE

>>>HAS THE BAND CONSISTED OF THE SAME MUSICIANS ALL THE WAY THROUGH, OR HAS THE LINE-UP CHOPPED AND CHANGED AROUND A CONSISTENT CORE?

The line up has remained the same.

>>>WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU LISTEN TO ‘WOOF & WARP OF THE QUIET GIANT’S HEM’?

A robust menagerie of birds and carnival mixed with alligator wrestling and girls chewing bubble gum.

>>>WHERE IS THE LINE BETWEEN SELF-INDULGENCE AND SELF-ASSERTION? IF YOU REPRESS TOO MANY ELEMENTS OF YOUR OWN IMPULSES, DO YOU RENDER YOURSELF POINTLESS? WHAT I MEAN TO ASK IS, WHY DO YOU FIND THAT THE MORE ESOTERIC ELEMENTS OF THIS RECORD ARE NECESSARY?

None of it is necessary, but I hesitate to give answer to a question so heady; as a songwriter I work purely on instinct, like a bear burrowing for grubs.

>>>THE RECORD COVERS A LOT OF GROUND, FROM PURE-BREED ACOUSTIC POP TO INBRED MONGREL NOISE. HAVE YOU EVER, OR DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT EVER, RELEASE A RECORD THAT WAS ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, SO TO SPEAK – I.E. SET OUT TO MAKE A POP ALBUM, OR SET OUT TO MAKE A TOTALLY GONZO EXPERIMENTAL LP? EXCUSE MY IGNORANCE OF YOUR BACK CAT, I’M NEW TO YOU.

We’ve recorded pop records but never released them; also loads of pure noise recordings which never come out either, we choose carefully what we decide to push at any given time.

>>>THE PRESS RELEASE IS KIND OF GNOMIC, SO I MIGHT JUST HAVE TO BE BLUNT AND ASK YOU FOR SOME CORE MUSICAL INFLUENCES. I’M GUESSING (AND PROBABLY SHOWING MYSELF UP) PAVEMENT, CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, THE BAND, ERM, ZAPPA… HELP A POOR ENGLISH SCRIBE!

Fela Kuti, King Tubby, Dylan, Augustus Pablo, Neil Young, Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley, Merle Haggard, Sonic Youth, etc.

>>>DO YOU FEEL THAT MAINTAINING A PERSONAL MYSTIQUE HELPS TO FOCUS ATTENTION ON THE ACTUAL MUSIC? YOU SEEM HELL-BENT ON KEEPING YOURSELVES RIGHT OUT OF IT AND LETTING THE SONGS JUST BE.

Yes.

>>>WHERE CAN WE PICK UP THE STUFF YOU RELEASE ON THE WEB?

I’m not exactly sure, i never really look for music on the web, I guess free stuff on myspace and pay stuff on iTunes.

>>>WILL YOU BE PLAYING THE UK ANY TIME SOON?

Perhaps.

e.earley

http://www.myspace.com/blitzentrapper

-Ollie Wright