TRAPPER SCHOEPP & THE SHADES
Trapper Schoepp has the ear of a troubadour, the eye of a journalist and the heart of a young poet. He began writing songs at a tender age with startling facility, distilling rock, folk and country traditions into tunes that are at turns spirited and melancholy. Themes ranging from pride of place, love and adventure shine with surprisingly sophisticated metaphors for a songwriter so young. Run, Engine, Run won’t be out of place filed next to other artists distinguished for their early talent like Justin Townes Earle, Ha Ha Tonka and Lucero. Trapper, his brother Tanner, and the rest of their band the Shades offer this album as a love letter to their beloved home state of Wisconsin.
Like his namesake M*A*S*H surgeon Trapper John, the 22-year-old Wisconsin songwriter found himself prepping for surgery a month before recording his band’s third and latest album, Run, Engine, Run, the result of a gnarly BMX bike crash 6 years earlier. Fortunately, in the interest of him having a safer hobby, his mother gave him a guitar after the accident. Trapper was then able to turn his experiences on the operating table at the Mayo Clinic (for spinal decompression surgery) into songs like the Stones-flavored rocker, “Pins and Needles.” Trapper Schoepp & The Shades is comprised of Trapper on lead vocals and guitar, brother Tanner on bass and vocals, drummer Jon Phillip (Tommy Stinson, Limbeck), and lead guitarist Graham Hunt. Daniel McMahon (Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, Cameron McGill) produced Run, Engine, Run and contributed keyboard during the sessions. Grammy-award winning engineer Geoff Sanoff (Fountains Of Wayne, Green Day, Nada Surf) mixed the album.
Trapper and Tanner grew up harmonizing with each other in the small rural town of Ellsworth, WI, which is known as the Cheese Curd Capital of the World. The beginnings of the band came together while the Schoepps were still in high school, playing covers and Trapper’s earliest original songs. When Trapper and Tanner moved to Milwaukee for college, the band adopted the moniker the Shades and began a steady schedule of club and festival dates, somewhat hampered by the fact that they still weren’t of legal drinking age. The group cemented their spot as a band-to-watch with the release of 2007’s A Change in the Weather, a collection the band financed, produced and released on their own. The band recorded 2009’s Lived and Moved and solidified a new lineup by adding Jon Phillip and Graham Hunt. Original guitarist David Boigenzahn and violinist Gina Romantini sit in as often as their schedules permit, allowing the group to experiment with their sound and surprise fans with unexpected shifts of tone and live dynamics.
“As a rock n’ roll band, we play music that has absorbed a whole range of stylistic overtones,” Trapper says of the musicality he’s after with the help of his band, The Shades. “In a sound bite world, it’s crucial to regard certain music not as a static art, but one that transcends tidy categorization. A radio station once said our music is ‘as much Pavement as Parsons.’ I thought that was telling, because this album has a little bit of everything - rock, country, power-pop, even some punk.” While it’s difficult to capture the band’s live charisma on record, Run, Engine, Run comes close with 12 well-crafted tunes that describe the everyday triumphs and tragedies of Midwestern life. As soon as the album hits the streets, The Shades will take to the road, bringing their heartland rock to the masses.