Blitzen Trapper is ready to tell ‘Future Jokes’ to Park City audiences
Band leader Eric Earley readies three-night residency at the Egyptian Theatre
Blitzen Trapper frontman Eric Earley is happy to finally tour in support of the folk-rock band’s 2020 album, “Holy Smokes and Future Jokes.”
And he’s looking forward to the three-night residency, starting June 22, at the Egyptian Theatre.
“We’ll try to pull out some weird stuff,” Earley said with a laugh.
In all seriousness, the tour is a long time coming due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had tours planned, but they all didn’t happen,” Earley said. “So it’s pretty exciting to play the songs now, and somehow the album’s title fits the situation today.”
Earley wrote the 10 songs on the album during a three-month period in 2019.
“I wrote a bunch of other songs prior to that, but the ones that appear on the record happened during that one time,” he said.
The songwriter, guitarist and vocalist took inspiration from George Saunders’ 2017 book, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” which finds President Abraham Lincoln interacting with the dead in Purgatory.
“That led me to ‘Bardo Thodol,’ which is also known as the ‘Tibetan Book of the Dead,’” Earley said. “I liked the themes of detaching from all of our earthly desires, and moving beyond everyday concerns that don’t really matter, as well as the fear of death that we all have. And a lot of the ideas in the books were about how to deal with loss in these fantastical narratives, and I wanted to do the same thing with songs.”
Some of the songs on “Holy Smokes and Future Jokes” are about people who have died but don’t know they have, Earley said.
“So they are experiencing a different reality, and it’s my surrealistic take on some of those ideas,” he said.
Throughout the years, Earley, who began playing music when he was three, has used songwriting to get in touch with his own emotions.
“I think that ultimately, music has been like my journal and was a way to help me deal with the things I’ve experienced in my life,” he said. “In some ways that has been good, in others it hasn’t, because music can be such an insular thing that hasn’t allowed me to develop normal ways of expressing myself with others.”
After going through some therapy, Earley realized his inability to convey his emotions to others was one of the reasons he wrote music.
“So, now I feel like I’m writing music about that,” he said with a laugh.
Still, there is a psychedelic element to the lyrics on “Holy Smokes and Future Jokes,” which is highlighted by the band’s folk-rock style, Earley said.
“There is an intimacy to it all, and, in some way, it reminds me of the intimacy people went through with COVID when they stayed home and pulled in a little bit,” he said. “In some ways it was unhealthy, but in other ways it was good. I think for some people it helped them slow down and take a step back. And that’s hard to do in America.”
Stepping back is something that Earley has thought about as Blitzen Trapper nears its 20th anniversary in 2024.
“I thought I was just going to retire after this tour, but I could do another record,” he said. “The fans are great, and I love playing live shows, so if I make another record, I can do another tour, which will be fun. So we’ll see.”
For now, however, Earley is having a great time on tour, even though putting together setlists can be a challenge.
“We have a core group of six or seven songs that are people’s favorites, like ‘Black River Killer’ or ‘Thirsty Man,’” he said. “Those are the songs that people have to hear or they will yell them at you until you play them. Aside from that it’s difficult to choose what songs to play. I put together a 20-song list to relearn, and then down the road I’ll think about this song or this other song. We run some during our soundcheck and see if we can throw them in the set.”
When: 8 p.m., June 22-24
Where: The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Web: parkcityshows.com and blitzentrapper.net
The Dr. Bob Band, fronted by Jeffrey Howrey, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
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