GRAMMYs On The Road With Trampled By Turtles And Empires

Backstage at the 2012 Lollapalooza festival
  • Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
    Trampled By Turtle's Dave Simonett
  • Photo: Chris Strong
August 14, 2012 -- 3:07 pm PDT

The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter played host for GRAMMYs On The Road at Lollapalooza on Aug. 3–5 in Grant Park in Chicago. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including country/bluegrass collective Trampled By Turtles and indie alternative punk rock trio Empires.

Trampled By Turtles vocalist/guitarist Dave Simonett discussed advice for aspiring bluegrass artists, the band's recording process and songwriting, among other topics.

"For bluegrass artists just starting out, my advice would be to not worry about tradition in your music at all," said Simonett. "Take it and try to grow it into your own thing."

Trampled By Turtles was formed in Duluth, Minn., in 2003 as an acoustic side project for Simonett, who had lost most of his music equipment after it was stolen from his car. Left with only an acoustic guitar, Simonett created a new band drawing on folk/bluegrass influences and featuring Erik Berry (mandolin), Dave Carroll (banjo), Tim Saxhaug (bass), and Ryan Young (fiddle). The band released their debut album, Songs From A Ghost Town, in 2004. Blue Sky And The Devil was released in 2005, followed by Trouble in 2007 and Duluth in 2008. Released in 2010, Palomino peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Bluegrass Albums chart. Their most recent album, Stars And Satellites, peaked in the Top 40 on the Billboard 200.

Empires discussed their musical influences, life on tour and the future of punk rock, among other topics.

"We bonded over '90s music, that's why we started a band," said Empires vocalist Sean Van Vleet. "We're obviously music lovers, so we're always looking for something new," added guitarist Tom Conrad.

Formed in Chicago in 2006, Empires features Conrad (formerly of alternative rock band The Academy Is…), producer/guitarist Max Steger and Van Vleet. The band released a self-produced debut album, Howl, in 2008, followed by a seven-song EP, Bang, in 2010. Howl was named one of the top five local albums of 2008 by Metromix Chicago. In 2011 the band made the final four in Rolling Stone magazine's Choose the Cover contest. Their most recent album, Garage Hymns, was released in June.

(GRAMMYs On The Road at Lollapalooza: Interviews and news contributions by Ramon Alvarez-Smikle, Christina Castillo, Max O'Kane, and Emily Ornberg.)

Come back tomorrow for more GRAMMYs On The Road at Lollapalooza coverage.


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