The story of “Wild and Reckless” was one Blitzen Trapper lead singer Eric Earley had been wanting to tell.
In short, the Portland Center Stage approached Earley in 2016, asking if he had any material that might work as play/concert hybrid. He did, in fact — he had an idea about a doomed love affair between a guy and girl in their early 20s who were into drugs and getting into trouble.
A few of the songs were half written, so, without a real plan, he said yes.
“It’s based on my relationship with this girl who was my best friend in my mid-20s,” he said. “She was a user and the whole story is about our relationship.”
The story, in turn, “was mostly a lot of nonfiction wrapped up in a fictional world we created,” he said.
Earley, and the rest of the band, told the saga on stage, night after night, for a month and a half. Even though the seasoned performer was used to baring his soul through song, this was a new experience.
“I’ve written songs and those are miniature narratives. But I’ve always wanted to do a longer narrative,” he said. “It’s been a long time and there was a lot of production around it, but it was nice to be able to tell that story.”
The songs from the production became the “Wild and Reckless,” an album released last year. The album really existed before the play, or at least the backbones of the song did, he said. The release marked the ninth studio release for the Portland group, which has been around for 18 years, first breaking out in 2008 with the Sub Pop release “Furr.”
Doing the production, Earley said, changed how the band approached both the songs, and their live performance.
“It created just a lot of more precision, and we’ve played on the road for so long the play came naturally in some ways,” Earley said. “But we tightened up and we’re now playing around with a lot of different ways of approaching songs.
“For the play [the songs] were all taken apart and bridged with monologues and stuff.”
The band brings those songs, as well as its wide-ranging discography, to JacksonHoleLive on Sunday, along with openers Brother Wolf. It is the second of the four-part summer concert series at the base of Snow King Mountain.
“Our live show is pretty eclectic at this point,” Earley said. “There’s a lot of material we draw from — everything from full band jam out, psych jams and down to acoustics with vocals.”
If fans miss the show and didn’t make it to Portland for the play last summer, there’s yet another way to consume Blitzen Trapper: podcast. While the story is not quite in publishable form, Earley hopes the project will soon see the light of day.
“We have material for it,” he said. “It’s road stories and stuff, maybe one of these days we’ll get the time.” ￼