Happy ‘Siren Songs’ release day! Rarity Rock Radio is thrilled to be featuring the new album from Trapper Schoepp all month.
Stay tuned for new content all month long, including exclusive content only on RRR! Tune in this Wednesday, April 26th at 8pm PT for a Nautical themed show of songs that Trapper is bringing to you based on inspirations for the new album at rarityrockradio.com.
Read more about the new album here:
Order the new album here:
“Good Graces” video is out now! The song features Sarah Peasall McGuffey, who just happened to sing in one of Trapper’s favorite flicks – O Brother, Where Art Thou? Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx3tUspsuyQ
Here’s a message from Trapper in celebration of release day:
Last spring we made the pilgrimage to Johnny Cash’s Cabin in Tennessee with a notebook of songs and stories. Today, these 12 tracks can be heard on ‘Siren Songs’ – a folk rock odyssey produced by Patrick Sansone (Wilco) + John Jackson (The Jayhawks). We’ll celebrate this weekend with release shows in Milwaukee and Chicago!
You can order the LP/CD directly through us at our Bandcamp page, as well as through the Grand Phony Music Store. Stream it here via Spotify, Apple Music and more. Every listen is appreciated!”
Tune in at rarityrockradio.com and sign up for the new RRR newsletter on the home page for all the latest station updates.
Trapper Schoepp’s ‘Siren Songs’ Song By Song Chat:
Siren Songs ⧫ Song by Song
“Cliffs of Dover”
PTSD has taken hold of an Iraq war veteran in this song. He can’t escape the sounds of bullets and is torn up inside and out, reeling from the trauma of a failed war. I wrote this in response to war stories heard through Milwaukee’s Guitars 4 Vets organization – a non-profit I’ve worked with that provides guitars and lessons to veterans in need.
This song lends lines from the World War II anthem “The White Cliffs of Dover” by Vera Lynn. With that song and the recent international wars in mind, this song is sung as a call to peace and a remembrance of those we’ve lost.
“Secrets of the Breeze”
During the height of the pandemic, I began paddle boarding obsessively on Lake Michigan. My friends and I would explore this Great Lake into the winter months, passing by ancient shipwrecks, floating icebergs and Wisconsin wildlife. It became an instant refuge, filling me with a sense of wonder I hadn’t felt since childhood.
One December day, a strong gust of wind threw me off my paddle board into a pile of boulders onshore. I ended up in the ER with an injured foot and renewed sense of respect for Mother Nature and its many mysteries.
The first instrument I heard in the Cash Cabin was an antique harmonium organ. Joseph Cash unfolded it like a children’s popup book and a sublime sound filled the room as he pressed his feet on the pedals. Later on, our producer Patrick Sansone took his turn and explained how these portable instruments were once used by military chaplains to hold services on battlefields.
“Good Graces” is the tale of a couple who’s hit a crossroad. There are two paths and neither guarantee a future together. The harmonium sets the stage for this song, extending a musical olive branch with its tranquil sound.
This is the first song I wrote in an open D tuning. I stumbled upon it while toying with a Joni Mitchell song during lockdown, finding that it offered a whole new canvas to write songs from. It produced a full and vibrant sound in my lap that guided me through writing this record.
As I figured out the new shapes up and down the neck of the guitar, I wrote lyrics for “The Fool” from the perspective of a sage, old romantic who’s giving advice to a younger version of himself.
This is an English love story I wrote just as fast as I could get the words down. The narrator pledges his undying love for Eliza, whose father has recently died at sea. She moves north to Scotland to console her mother, leaving him behind. He sings of his passion for her, hoping one day she returns to reconcile their relationship.
This song is inspired by the Devil’s Kettle, a mysterious rock formation and waterfall I encountered along Highway 61. A river splits below these waterfalls, with one tributary to Lake Superior and the other flowing underground to an unknown location. It is said gangsters like Al Capone would dispose of bodies in this natural phenomenon.
I had the honor of recording this track with Johnny Cash’s 1930s Martin Guitar. It was called the “shitkicker” guitar because it long sat on Johnny’s couch where it was often played by his friends and guests.
“7 Mile Fair”
While I was tuning my guitar up for this song, I felt a steady hum above the ceiling of the Cabin. I asked the engineer if the sound would be picked up by the mics and we paused to see what was up (work on). We walked outside to see a helicopter circling the property and armed police on ATVs. There was an intruder on the property. I gathered my guys, locked the cabin doors and we nailed down this track in a few takes.
When we were told it was safe to come out, a very enthusiastic policeman said he had apprehended the intruder by tackling him in a field. We were also told the intruder had been fleeing a bank where he’d been found trying to, no pun intended, cash fake checks.
This song was inspired by Wisconsin’s largest flea market, which I’ve spent many Sundays at. It recounts a hazy night of romance and music, where a tireless “band plays on and on” – which felt apropos to sing with the chaos of that day unfolding.
In the control room of the Cash Cabin sat an empty snare drum case with white stenciling on it that read, “The Johnny Cash Show.” In lieu of an Irish bodhrán drum for this song, our percussionist, Jon Radford,” made due with this artifact from Johnny’s 60s TV show.
Jon pounded on the empty case with malletts to create a galloping rhythm, which would set the tone for this song about unrequited love. Our producer Patrick Sansone sings with me here and plays a beautiful, wandering piano line on June Carter Cash’s old upright piano.
There’s an old saying they would use on dance floors at youth Christian functions to keep boys and girls from getting too close. “Leave some room for the Holy Spirit,” they would say. This song finds a teen conforming to these kinda Catholic school rituals but eventually losing it. She packs her bags for Boston and skips town for a more freewheelin’ big city existence.
Joseph Cash put down his camera while we were tracking this one and joined us for some harmonies. He also had the idea of using one of his grandpa’s old railroad spikes for percussion, which you can hear clinking throughout this track.
“Silk and Satin”
This is the story of a man living out a double life in New York City. He’s a Manhattan businessman by day and a drag queen in Brooklyn by night. His love interest falls for him in his drag persona, knowing nothing of his 9-5 life.
I used Maritime jive in this song because I once heard old sailor wives would crossdress as men to be with their husbands at sea. I think such an extraordinary risk is romantic.
“Queen of the Mist”
This song recounts Annie Edson Taylor’s harrowing trip over Niagara Falls inside a wooden barrel in 1901. Faced with financial hardships, the 63-year-old widow and retired schoolteacher set out to become rich and famous with this stunt over the falls. The rookie daredevil first sent her cat over the 167-foot falls before successfully completing the stunt a week later herself. Annie posed for newspapers next to the barrel labeled “Queen of the Mist” and found some overnight national attention. Tragically, the same barrel was later stolen by her manager and Annie was only able to make a meager living off her stunt, selling souvenirs and postcards in front of the falls.
I was told the isolation booth I tracked this record in was the “fish room.” Perfect for a nautical feeling record, I thought. On the walls were mounted trophy fish that oversaw my every move. Each fish hung proudly with a small inscription below it denoting which member of the family reeled it in. On a small table where I set my harmonicas sat an old tackle box with a tag that read, “June C. Cash.”
It felt all too right to sing “In Returning” in that room. It’s the story of a fisherman who has given himself to his one true love, the sea, leaving behind his home and family. He’s growing wary of his life’s path, wondering what will be left of his life onshore when he returns.
By Joseph Cash