Trampled by Turtles are from Duluth, Minnesota, where frontman Dave Simonett initially formed the group as a side project in 2003. At the time, Simonett had lost most of his music gear, thanks to a group of enterprising car thieves who'd ransacked his vehicle while he played a show with his previous band. Left with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, he began piecing together a new band, this time taking inspiration from bluegrass, folk, and other genres that didn't rely on amplification. Simonett hadn't played any bluegrass music before, and he filled his lineup with other newcomers to the genre, including fiddler Ryan Young (who'd previously played drums in a speed metal act) and bassist Tim Saxhaug. Along with mandolinist Erik Berry and banjo player Dave Carroll, the group began carving out a fast, frenetic sound that owed as much to rock & roll as bluegrass.
Trampled by Turtles released their first record, Songs from a Ghost Town, in 2004. In a genre steeped in tradition, the album stood out for its contemporary sound, essentially bridging the gap between the bandmates' background in rock music and their new acoustic leanings. Blue Sky and the Devil (2005) and Trouble (2007) explored a similar sound, but it wasn't until 2008 and the band's fourth release, Duluth, that Trampled by Turtles received recognition by the bluegrass community. Duluth peaked at number eight on the Billboard bluegrass chart and paved the way for a number of festival appearances. When Palomino arrived in 2010, it was met with an even greater response, debuting at the top of the bluegrass chart and remaining in the Top Ten for more than a year. Two years later, their crossover appeal landed them at number 32 on the Billboard 200 pop charts upon the release of their sixth album, Stars and Satellites. In addition to major bluegrass and folk festivals, they began showing up at Coachella, ACL Fest, and Lollapalooza. The official concert album, Live at First Avenue, followed in 2013, recorded at Minnesota's most famous venue. A year later, the band returned with the darker-toned Wild Animals, which bettered its studio predecessor on the album charts, reaching number 29 on Billboard. Countless tours with bands like Lord Huron, Wilco, Caamp, Mt Joy and Deer Tick to name a few have followed. 2022 will see the release of the band’s latest body of work called Alpenglow which was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.
Support: Amigo The Devil
Danny Kiranos, the Austin-based songwriter behind the Amigo the Devil project, has somehow managed to meld the worlds (and fanbases) of traditional folk, country music, rock, and metal into one. The sonic experience is morbid, yet poetic and oddly romantic. His unique artistic perspective and ability to connect with audiences has allowed him to amass a dedicated, cult-like fan-base. Loaded with sing-alongs – and an unsuspecting dose of humor to make otherwise grim topics accessible for fans of every genre – the songs still remain deeply rooted in the tradition of story-telling…something that seems to be a lot less common nowadays. Attending an Amigo the Devil show is an experience: you become one with a wildly prophetic man, armed only with his entrancing voice and a banjo, and bear witness to an astounding performance that will stick with you for a long time.
A key figure in the U.S. ‘murder folk’ scene, Kiranos was initially influenced by the likes of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Following a number of well-received single and EP releases, the debut album by Amigo the Devil ‘Everything Is Fine’ was produced by Ross Robinson, renowned for his work with major league hard rock/metal acts such as Korn, Slipknot, At The Drive In, and Glassjaw. The album also features drummer Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage) sitting in on the entire recording session.
His follow-up record and latest release, ‘Born Against’, reveals him to be more than a one-trick pony stylistically. “Every new record is an opportunity to sit and think about how much has changed in your life and the world around you,” Kiranos says. “It’s a new opportunity to bring in both new and old influences. I really wanted to dive into ideas that I’d either been avoiding or ignoring within myself and figure out ways to align them with music I grew up listening to. Influences that may have been set aside in our older recordings.”
Kiranos, who grew up in Miami in a multicultural household, decamped to Dallas to record the album at the venerable Modern Electric Studio with Beau Bedford (Texas Gentlemen). This marked the first time Kiranos had explored some of the world music he'd long loved, including Eastern European folk and Australian country (“It has such an amazing sound to it,” he says of the honky-tonk of Down Under. “The rhythms are so dry and brutal.”) Kiranos felt Bedford was the only producer who could draw those sounds out of him. Together they entered the studio with merely the skeletons of the songs Kiranos had written. One by one, they fleshed them out in wildly inventive fashion. To say they threw the kitchen sink at this album would be an understatement; these guys threw the whole damn shack.
“The Fellowship” – as Amigo’s die-hard fans refer to themselves – continues to grow with each new show played and album released. His continued connection with audiences and unique, empathic lyrics are sure to carry Amigo the Devil into the hearts of many more. There is hope in the volatile, peace in the macabre, and light not just inside the tunnel but all around, and Amigo the Devil is here to tell us how.