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In Festival Guide

Trapper Schoepp and the Shades return home to perform at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage at Summerfest this week.

Catching up with Trapper Schoepp

Milwaukee's Trapper Schoepp and the Shades return home to perform at Summerfest this year. We tracked down Trapper to see what the band has been up to since its breakout record, "Run Engine Run," was released in 2011.

Turns out, Schoepp and company are recording a follow-up to "Run Engine Run" right now and fans can expect to hear a lot of new material when the band opens for The Hold Steady on Thursday, July 3 at 8 p.m. on the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage. It's been a busy couple years for the band, hasn't it? Has it been everything you'd hoped it would be?

Trapper Schoepp: Yes! We've had the opportunity to tour nationally with the bands that directly influence our sound. SideOneDummy was my first foray into the workings of the entertainment industry, and I gained solid business perspective from that. A few years ago, my main hope was to still be making music, and in that I've succeeded.

OMC: I bet it's made the band pretty formidable on stage. Have you been able to see that improvement yourselves or does it feel the same as ever to you?

TS: I've become better at being a chameleon of sorts and adapting to different players and instrumentation. I see performing as a situational kind of art, and we play in an array of venues. We have gigs coming up at Hazelden Treatment Center in northern Minnesota, some parks in Wisconsin, and the Mayo Clinic -- where I had a spinal surgery … all of which we'll approach a bit differently.

I tend to get more from those types of shows then playing to a bar or club, but I'll hop on any stage and be happy, really. Also, I've performed some 50 dates in the last year with just my brother's harmonies and an acoustic guitar. A rocking band is an asset to songwriters, but it's not always worthwhile to roll six deep somewhere you haven't played, and thus might not have a crowd. Plenty can be done with two voices and a guitar -- a folk approach -- and it's interesting to break the songs down to their bare essentials and share the stories in an intimate way.

OMC: How much time have you spent on the road during the past couple years?

TS: We've spent a lot of time out there touring with some of my favorite bands -- The Wallflowers and Old 97's, to name a couple -- but we would always like to be out more. We'll definitely be hitting it much harder on this next album cycle. I've been trying to travel more than what's just on the itinerary, too. Our manager Ben encouraged that. I recently took a trip to New Orleans that left me very inspired. I got a song or two out of my time there. I also did a whole tour this winter opening for a popular hard rock band. I saw a whole different side of fan culture. It was strangely fun.

OMC: Is the band doing the national festival circuit over the summer or finally taking a much-needed break?

TS: Nope. Some gigs here and there but we're mostly focused on finishing up a new record. It's coming along nicely.

OMC: It's been two years since "Run, Engine, Run." Can we expect to hear a lot of new material at the Summerfest gig?

TS: Yes, and we couldn't be more excited. This will be the first time playing a lot of this new stuff live, which is very refreshing for us.

OMC: What can you tell us about upcoming record?

TS: We've been recording a new album with Brendan Benson producing down in Nashville on-and-off for the last month and a half. He's an extremely diligent worker and his creative tank never seems to empty. I've been blown away by some of the players he's brought in, too. I'd say choosing Brendan to produce these songs has been the best decision we've made as a band. There's no due date yet as we're between record labels at the moment and want to take our time to make sure it's all rolled out the right way.

OMC: Any bands coming to Summerfest that you're eager to see?

TS: I'm looking forward to The Hold Steady, Jake Bugg and Cheap Trick. Also, I'd love to finally see Joan Jett. I had a great encounter with her at LaGuardia Airport last August. We were both flying to Milwaukee to play Harley Fest. I was on the standby list for the same flight and was told over and over, "We'll see who shows up."

Right before boarding, Steven Tyler and his poodles walked right passed me in line. He gave Joan Jett a kiss and walked right on the plane. Needless to say, there was no longer room for me on board. Should've hopped a motorcycle.


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