Trampled By Turtles hails from way up north in Duluth, Minnesota. The band got its start in 2003 bringing a unique spin to Americana instrumentation with lyrics inspired by a sense of reverence for the countryside just outside their town.
The band is playing in Raleigh at the Red Hat Amphitheater Saturday as part of the Band Together event that helps raise money for various non-profits around the Triangle.
Morning Edition Host Eric Hodge spoke with the band's fiddle player and singer Ryan Young:
Erich Hodge: We've been hearing the song "Are You Behind The Shining Star?" from your seventh record "Wild Animals." I had to go back and listen several times to realize there are no drums on this song, but it has such a driving rhythm. How do you achieve that?
Ryan Young: That’s actually a common thing. We’ve had people actually complement our drummer before and we don’t have a drummer. Our bass player does the bass drum part and myself, playing the fiddle and our mandolin player kind of cover the snare drum. And the other drum parts. We play very percussively and try to give it a very driving rhythm.
You worked with Alan Sparhawk from the band Low as producer on this album. Why did you choose to look outside of the band and what did he bring to your sound?
We had never worked with a producer before. We always just produced our own records. And, just to ensure we didn’t make the same album again that we had done in the past, we decided to get Alan’s help. We’re all friends with him and we also look up to him musically and trust his opinions. And if anybody is a fan of LOW, his band, you might be able to tell what he has done. He kind of brought a more polished, orchestral, full, beautiful sound. He would often give us pointers. Sometimes they were very abstract. I remember one time, he’s like ‘Play as if you were a squirrel and you’re on a tree and you want to jump over to the fence but the fence is a little too far away and you’re not sure you can make the jump but play as if you were that squirrel.’ And we were like, I don’t really know what that means, but I’ll try.
I love the way "Lucy" starts with the droning strings.Does the band come up with the arrangement jointly?
We all do it together. Our guitar player writes the words and most of the chords to the song. For Lucy, for example, He didn’t know how to start it, so he’s like ‘Hey, Ryan how do you think we should start this?” And I was like ‘Well, how about just the bass?’
Fans of your more up-tempo work can take heart from a couple of songs on "Wild Animals" including "Come Back Home."
Yeah, that is one thing I really enjoy about playing with these guys. It’s challenging but it’s also a lot of fun and it makes for a more interesting live show when we can turn in a few really fast ones and break up the sets and make it more dynamic.
Can you explain what being from Duluth means to your music?
There [are] songs about the cold and the winter and there [are] songs about Lake Superior and the outdoorsy nature of being from Duluth. You can just drive five minutes and you're out in the middle of the wilderness.
Musically, it’s maybe harder to tell we’re from Duluth other than we play bluegrass instruments but we don’t play bluegrass songs. Our songs are maybe more rock and roll songs that are played with bluegrass instruments.