Rock ‘n roll is alive and well in Milwaukee, thanks much to Trapper Schoepp. While only 25 year old, Schoepp has already created quite a name for himself both locally and beyond. Schoepp’s musical resume ranges from gigs at just about every festival and venue around Milwaukee, to regional, national and international tours with musical veterans like The Wallflowers, Old 97’s, The Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, Tommy Stinson, Frank Turner and Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, just to name a few.
With two stellar releases under his belt, Trapper Schoepp 2012’s Run Engine Run and this year’s Rangers and Valentines, Schoepp’s sound continues to mature and grow, with a sonic quality and craftsmanship well beyond his years. What makes Schoepp extra special is his gift of storytelling, where his listeners can vividly insert himself into the narratives of his characters in his songs.
Rock the Green recently caught up with Trapper Schoepp, amid his heavy touring schedule this summer, to talk music and his thoughts on rocking the green.
Rock the Green: As an artist, how would you describe your sound?
Schoepp: Roots rock with narrative. I try to incorporate stories, themes and characters into my songwriting and keep the music diverse. Depending on location and logistics, I might be with a seven-piece band or just an acoustic guitar. I'll play many of the same songs night after night but try to use different ingredients. I’ll have the band with me at Rock the Green ready to rock!
Rock the Green: A few years back you had a famous gig in town where you opened for the Wallflowers at Turner Hall on Halloween and even did a duet with Jakob Dylan on “One Headlight.” This was clearly an awesome experience and subsequent tour for you with the Wallflowers, a household name in Americana rock music. What have been some other musical highlights, both local and national, in terms of shows you've played?
Schoepp: Local love is the best love. I'm glad that Wallflowers tour stopped in Milwaukee. We ended up doing many more dates with them. I just ran into Jakob Dylan on my birthday in New York! Speaking of New York, my pal from there, Jesse Malin, just took me on a European tour that crossed nine countries in a month. It was a smooth and epic voyage that I'd say has been a career highlight up to this point.
Rock the Green: Rangers and Valentines is a full-blown rock 'n roll roots extravaganza of a record. What should fans expect for your set next month at Rock the Green?
Schoepp: You said it well. It'll be a good time roots extravaganza. Or something like that!
Rock the Green: As you know, the focus of Rock the Green is sustainability. Why is sustainability important to you as an artist?
Schoepp: I'm the son of a conservationist and park ranger, so Mother Nature and the ideals of sustainability have always had a presence in my life. I grew up in the woods and I have a lot of respect for the natural world, as we all should. On the latest record, I have some songs about when Mother Nature strikes back - "Tornado Alley," "Ballad of Olof Johnson" and "Ogallala."
Rock the Green: Are there any particular things that you do when you are touring to “rock the green?” If so, could you please share some.
Schoepp: There's a large amount of energy and waste involved in touring the world, but bands like Radiohead have made great strides in reducing their carbon footprint. I hope other bands on their level follow suite in terms of their waste and consumption levels. Personally, I'm going on 10 years of vegetarianism. As we all know, the meat industry is a major contributor to global warming.
Rock the Green: Do you have any advice to concert attendees reading this blog about simple ways people can be more mindful about sustainability?
Schoepp: Pick up after yourself and be mindful of the environment around you. I live on the East Side of Milwaukee where young people leave garbage everywhere. I have a line about it in one of my songs "Settlin' or Sleepin' Around" about the kids that "trash this town and then go away." Treat wherever you are like it's your home - whether you're a guest or not. We live in a throwaway society, but we have to find better ways to protect and preserve the only home we have.
Both Milwaukee and sustainability are two topics near and dear to Schoepp’s heart, and we have no doubt that he’ll bring the house down at Rock the Green.
You don’t want to miss Trapper Schoepp and his band at Rock the Green. He opens the main stage at 1:35pm, September 16.