Headed to St. Louis for an appearance at LouFest, the band's fiddle player Ryan Young took the time to chat with me by phone. See Trampled by Turtles on Saturday, August 7 in Forest Park.
Nathan Brand: I remember seeing the band last time you all were in St. Louis at the Pageant back in October. It was a little different than when I first saw Trampled by Turtles at Bonnaroo earlier that summer. Is there a big difference for you between playing outdoor festival shows and headlining indoors? Do you have a preference?
Ryan Young: Well, they are different, from our perspective, but I don't have any preference. I enjoy all of them equally, and I actually like the switch. You know, we might do a whole bunch of club shows all through the winter, like bars and theaters indoors, then when it comes time for summer we get to play outside a whole bunch and do the festival scene. That's way different. It's fun to switch and play different kinds of shows. The variety is something I really enjoy that I haven't been able to do so much with other bands I've been in. Trampled by Turtles is really a little bit of everything.
Definitely. Do you find that the eclectic nature of festivals these days helps the band's bluegrass and punk-based sound to reach out to a more diverse crowd that may not have otherwise given you a chance?
Sure. The typical Trampled by Turtles fan is not necessarily a bluegrass fan or purist. We recently played a show with this group called Atmosphere, who are a hip-hop group from Minnesota, and the show was basically just us and Atmosphere. All of the people there were there to see both bands. Everybody had an open mind. I myself am personally a fan of Atmosphere. A lot of our fans will listen to Atmosphere of vice versa. There's really a lot of crossover.
That kind of brings me to my next question. I know you guys toured a lot last year, supporting "Stars and Satellites." Do you have a favorite of the festivals you played?
I guess I would have to say Telluride. It's so beautiful, and it was an honor to play there. The music that we saw was really, really good, and the people that we met and hung around with were really awesome people, so I'd have to say Telluride in Colorado. But there were plenty of other ones that were close seconds.
Well, on a personal level, is there any show you've seen either while touring with the band or on your own that really stuck out and inspired you?
Sure, that happens all the time. It was pretty much act after act at Telluride, but its tough to see them all. You have to pry yourself away to go do other things. It's like, "OK, it's time to go eat some food or something." Then it's like, "All right, fine, I guess I'll stop watching for awhile." The backstage is always quiet a scene, too.
So what inspired you to start playing the fiddle?
Well, there wasn't any influence for the fiddle, actually. I never saw a fiddle player play and was like, "I wanna do that!" I just really enjoyed music and when fourth grade orchestra happened I just wanted to play an instrument because I loved music so much. I wasn't even thinking about playing fiddle or folk music at all. I just wanted to play anything. I was hungry. I had learned how to play guitar and enjoyed that. I was kind of a music nerd and wanted to play anything. I wasn't particularly good at the orchestra music, but I enjoyed playing it. Once I switched over to playing folk and fiddle music, then that came really easy to me. I just played by ear. There was no written-down music to try to recreate. I just played along with whatever sounded good.
Did you ever think you'd be playing in a band that would spend 52 weeks in Top 10 on the bluegrass charts with "Palomino"?
Oh no, I never imagined. When I played violin I never thought anything would come of it. Then when I switched over to fiddle I never thought I'd be in a band that was very successful. All the shows I would play in other bands would be basically our parents and few of our buddies showing up. We never really sold any records. My experience taught me that being successful in music was really hard and would probably never happen to me. Somehow Trampled by Turtles got really lucky. People liked our music and were buying the record. People started telling their friends about it. It was quite a surprise.
I know touring keeps you guys pretty busy these days, but are there any plans of hopping in the studio to work on a seventh album soon?
Yep. We don't have a date set, but we're working on it. If all goes as planned, we'll be in the studio sometime this fall or early winter recording the next one.
Are there any side projects you or other members of the band are involved in that fans should check out in the meantime?
Yeah, actually Dave and I are in band called Dead Man Winter. Tim, our bass player is in that band, too. It's actually three-fifths of Trampled by Turtles with another electric guitar player and drummer. We do electrified rock 'n' roll music. Besides that, I play in another band called the Fiddle Heirs. It's a group of five fiddlers and a bass player. That band is just getting going. We haven't recorded our first album yet, but we're going to start working on that this week, so hopefully you'll have heard of that band eventually.
Excellent! I have some new stuff to check out. My last question would be who are you most excited to see at LouFest?
Honestly, I haven't looked at the schedule, so I don't even know who's playing. You'll have to tell me.
Well, you'll be playing alongside Wilco, Jim James, Alabama Shakes, Edward Sharpe, and the Killers to name a few.
Wow, that sounds really awesome. We've gotten to play with My Morning Jacket a few times though, so it will be cool to see Jim James again. We're kind of friends his. And Wilco, too. We opened for Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Bob Dylan on the Americanarama tour this summer. We got to sit in with My Morning Jacket and Wilco a little bit, too. Just one show in St. Paul, Minnesota. It will be cool to see those guys again.
Trampled by Turtles performs at LouFest on Saturday, August 7. KDHX is a media partner of LouFest 2013.