If you haven’t heard of the Midwest’s latest roots rock revivalists, Trapper Shoepp and the Shades,  this Thursday (Oct. 25) offers you that chance to experience their Milwaukee brand of rock n’ roll. 

Currently, they’re touring with The Wallflowers in support of their latest albut, Run, Engine, Run. Their lead singer/song writer, Trapper Shoepp, was kind enough to give The Reader his time to answer a few questions about the band and what drives him as a musician. 

The Reader: Where does your love of americana style music come from?

Trapper: “I have to credit my upstairs neighbor, Geo, for getting me into cosmic Americana music. I was a freshman in college and I had just gotten my first record player. My friends and I stayed up all night blaring records and figured Geo would be pretty irritated the next day. But when we woke up, he had set out a 30 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and a stack of Gram Parsons CDs by our back door. That about did it.”

The Reader: Who were your early inspirations when forming your sound?

Trapper: “The Band, the Replacements, and Old 97s have inspired this current lineup. Those groups all have a very distinctive sound, but never became parodies of themselves. I like to think of us as being a concoction of country, punk, and rock and roll.

The Reader: How does being from the Midwest shape your sound and lyrics?

Trapper: “I believe that the best songs are often right in your backyard, so naturally I write from the perspective of a Midwesterner. We were just at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they had a little exhibit on musicians from the Midwest. Nearly all the musicians in the display have a strong sense of place within their songs. Perhaps it’s the cold winters and hot summers. There’s always another season and a song to accompany it.”

The Reader: You get a lot of credit for being a phenomenal song writing talent. How long have you been writing and where does your inspiration come from lyrically?

Trapper: “I’ve been writing for the last six years and I’ve found that there’s a real art to erasing. I would say I only use about 10% of what I write. Being selective is important in my process, as well as trying to write about real experiences.”

The Reader: What was it like working with an award winning producer like Daniel McMahon? Did you take or learn anything from working with him?

Trapper: “Tune, tune, tune! And then when you’re done with that, tune some more. Seriously though, Dan taught me that there’s only so much sonic space in one song. He helped us fill out that space with vocal harmonies. I haven’t met many singers with as good of an ear as Dan.”

The Reader: I’ve read about the ’64 Mercedes your grandfather gave you and your brother and how that inspired the name for you album, Run, Engine, Run. What does that title mean to you?

Trapper: “In a way, it’s my artistic mantra. It’s about moving forward with a tradition and not getting stuck within it. My grandfather was very much apart of a farming tradition in the Badlands. My line of work is a hell of lot easier than his, but I too am following a long line of tradition.”

The Reader: If you had to choose a color that sums up what the album is all about what color would you choose and why?

Trapper: “It’s shades of many colors. On second thought, I’ll say ‘Red’ like the new Taylor Swift album.”

The Reader: How has it been getting to tour with such a well known band like The Wallflowers and what does it mean to the band to have such an opportunity?

Trapper: “There aren’t many records that I’ve listened to as much as the Wallflowers’ 1996 classic, Bringing Down the Horse. My generation grew up with those songs all over the radio. I really admire Jakob Dylan as a songwriter and I’ll inevitably learn a lot from watching him night after night. No matter who we tour with down the road, I will always think of this as being a pretty special opportunity for us.

The Reader: Where is the tour taking you and what cities are you most looking forward to experiencing?

Trapper: “This tour with the Wallflowers will take us through the Midwest and up to Canada. The run includes three dates in our home state of Wisconsin, so those shows should be pretty memorable. I have to say, though, that I’m most looking forward to playing in Toronto on Election Day.”

The Reader: Best road food, restaurant and venue experienced on the road thus far?

Trapper: “It was our highest of honor to play the Troubadour in Los Angeles. A lot of legends have been through that joint. We have a sponsorship through Taco Bell’s “Feed the Beat” program this fall, so as far as food goes I have to say: ¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!”

The Reader: Funniest thing to happen to the band while touring?

Trapper: “This was more plain stupid than funny but the other night I drank some whiskey and naively took a gypsy cab to get back to Brooklyn after a CMJ show. Suffice to say, that was an interesting ride. I got out of there in a hurry, leaving behind my iPhone. I hope the cabbie is enjoying my apps.”

The Reader: After the tour, what is the band’s plans?

Trapper: “We’ll be chooglin’ all over the West coast with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and our drummer’s old band, Limbeck. I have almost enough songs for another album, and I hope to get cooking on that soon. For now, though, it’s just one show at a time.”

You can catch Trapper Shoepp and The Shades this Thursday night (Oct. 25) at 7:00 p.m. at The Slowdown. 

– James Derrick Schott

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