Trampled By Turtles Embrace Life on the Open Road

Trampled By Turtles
The Colorado Sound Presents… Trampled By Turtles July 19 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Trampled By Turtles Feel Connected to Red Rocks and Colorado 

Duluth, Minnesota salwarts Trampled By Turtles are one of the finest Americana bands of the past 15 years, and they’re live at Red Rocks July 19. Their new album, Life Is Good On The Open Road, is a standout in the band’s catalog, combing fresh terrain in a tight 40 minutes.

We had a chance to catch up with lead singer Dave Simonett ahead of the performance to talk about the band’s excellent new album, being in Colorado, and much more. 

The interview has been slightly edited for clarity. 

The Colorado Sound: It’s hard to imagine a better landscape to see a Trampled By Turtles show than overlooking Morrison, through the wide open spaces and The Front Range of the Rockies. Is Red Rocks the perfect venue for you to play?

Dave Simonett: Red Rocks is a beautiful venue. In my opinion maybe the most beautiful venue. Though the perfect venue for us is still probably a barely standing roadhouse somewhere that only serves light beer and bourbon and has a pool table.

As a bit of “pastoral band” how much does the scenery and the vibe of a show matter? 

Well, that’s the first time someone has told me that we’re a pastoral band, but yeah I can see that. I think the environment in which a show takes place is very important. At the very least it affects how the show sounds and looks but it usually affects how we process playing as well. 

There’s a very delicate and visceral relationship between a band, a room, and a crowd I think. I don’t know how to explain it more specifically as it’s still a bit mysterious for me but I know it’s there.

“The perfect venue for us is still probably a barely standing roadhouse somewhere that only serves light beer and bourbon and has a pool table.”

Life Is Good… is a fresh take on Americana and sounds like a refreshing take for the band since Wild Animals. Does each album have a life of its own? 

Thank you. It was refreshing to make, I can tell you that. Yeah, each album has a life of it’s own for sure. Each one was made at a different time in all of our lives so to me they exist as snapshots of those particular times and places. 

For me as a music fan, I have a similar relationship with other people’s records. For instance, whenever Blonde on Blonde comes on I’m taken back to a little apartment on Third Street in Duluth and this old rusted Toyota pickup I used to have. I cherish that relationship with music.

“Thank You, John Steinbeck” is a particular favorite from the new album, since it references one of the best books about travelling ever. What’s one thing about being a travelling band that the average fan might not know? 

I’m happy you feel that way! Especially about the book. Damn I love that book. One thing about being a traveling band that people may not know? Maybe that it generally pretty boring. 

Outside of the 90 minutes or so we’re on stage there’s a lot of down time that can be a bit of a mountain to overcome at times. The brain goes through a crazy high while playing a live show then abruptly drops off which can be a strange road to navigate every day.  

Another favorite is “Right Back Where We Started” – a great life lesson. How much of the song comes from personal experience? 

Almost all of it I think. I don’t know – it’s not usually that cut and dry for me, I guess.  Life experience…all of those conditions that make that up, kind of get mashed around in there and sometimes come out in three minute bursts that mostly rhyme. It can’t be all literal but it does all come from somewhere in there so I claim all of my stories to be true.  

So, what makes life so “good on the open road?”

Haha – how dare you ask that question! The answer is it’s not always good or bad. It’s much too complicated for simple words like that. I think I was trying to focus on what I love about this life and, while getting excited for making an album and hitting said road, I wanted that to be in the front of everything. It’s exciting, adventurous, romantic, boring, exhausting, dangerous, all of those things. Just like any life can be, I suppose.

Trampled By Turtles
Life Is Good On The Open Road is one of the band’s finest albums to date


Is it easy or hard for you all to get your distinct blues/folk/bluegrass sound to actually work?

Do we have a distinct sound like that? If so then I’d say it’s not hard at all because we’ve never really thought about making a particular sound. We’ve always pretty much gone with what comes naturally and mostly recorded in that way as well.

What song do you wish you had written?

“Shelter From the Storm”.

What’s in your CD player/ on your phone / on your turntable that your fans would be shocked to hear?

I would hope any fans I may have would give me credit enough to assume I have an eclectic taste in music. Thereby nothing would be shocking to them.

What’s the most Minnesota thing about Colorado?

All the Minnesotans, I guess.

“”Whenever Blonde on Blonde comes on I’m taken back to a little apartment on Third Street in Duluth and this old rusted Toyota pickup I used to have.”

And finally, to you, Colorado is…

A lot of things. It’s a beautiful state full of mountains and lovely people. It’s the first place we ever went on tour. It harbors obscenely wealthy ski towns that have lost any connection to the land and are disconnected from many of it’s people.

It’s biggest city needs to do more to help it’s poor (though this is not nearly a unique thing to the state). It’s the first place I saw a rattlesnake. It contains some of the most gorgeous drives in the world. It’s a great place to buy a western shirt. Places are complicated or maybe I make them complicated but I think they just are.

I’ve always enjoyed coming to Colorado. I love to see the mountains and smell the air in the sagebrush and see the incredible light just before sunset. This is the first place that ever welcomed our band outside of the Midwest and it will always feel like a second home to me.  

The Colorado Sound Presents… Trampled By Turtles Thursday at Red Rocks. There are some tickets still available – get them here