Continuing their Record Store Day tradition of uncovering material in small batch, Oregon’s Blitzen Trapper are releasing a collection of songs filed away for nearly 20 years. Unreleased Recordings Volume Two: Too Kool, out Oct. 24 for Record Store Day, features 10 of Blitzen Trapper’s unreleased recordings from 2003 and 2004.
Named after the title song, Tool Kool is a spontaneous mix of tracks, revealing Blitzen Trapper’s more exploratory beginnings. “It’s really a snapshot of where I was at the time,” says Earley. “It’s almost like looking at old journal entries or something. It’s also fun to listen to, but it also makes me feel old. When I listen back to something 20 years ago, I’m like, ‘wow, I had so much energy. What happened to that?’”
Following up to the band’s 2017 RSD release, Unreleased Recordings, Vol. 1, Waking Bullets At Breakneck Speed, which featured tracks recorded in 2006 on 4-track cassette tapes when the band was working on their third album Wild Mountain Nation and 2008 follow up Furr, Too Kool goes back even further, an assemblage of the earliest sounds from the band.
Earley says Record Store Day is the band’s preferred outlet for these older releases, which are often limited to 1,000 copies for die-hard fans. “It’s a good way to put out stuff that otherwise would never see the light of day,” he says. Pressed on translucent orange vinyl, Vol. 2 features new tracks “Farthest Shore,” “Everything U Do,” “Rainy Day,” “Big Adventure,” “Pink Padded Slippers,” “Kid Sister,” “Flying Trapeze,” “Crystal Ball,” “On A Tuesday,” and opener “Too Kool,” a more pop-fused track about young love that’s not meant to be.
“It’s such an old song,” laughs Earley. “I was 24 when I wrote it. It’s just me talking about a love interest, this girl that’s just too cool for me. And I’m just nerdy basically, which is what I was at that age. There’s so much weird guitar and keyboard stuff on it. It’s just like no-rules kind of pop music.”
In September, the band released their 10th studio album, Holy Smokes Future Jokes, a musical narrative exploring Tibetan Buddhism, mental health, that goes down a rabbit hole into birth, immortality, and other cosmic conceptualizations.
In nearly 20 years, so much has shifted for Blitzen Trapper, and Too Kool offers some glimpses into the band’s raw energy, and more experimental and psychedelic soundscape. At time the songs were recorded for Too Kool, Earley says the band wasn’t even touring or signed. “We weren’t signed or doing any of it professionally in any way, just making recordings,” says Earley. “So it’s a lot of that stuff that just got left behind because I kept writing and recording music later on.”
Never mastered and mixed by bassist Michael Van Pelt and Earley, the early analog tracks play as is on Too Kool. “You’re basically hearing what we wanted things to sound like at that time,” says Earley. “Now, I have other people mix, and I still like dong it, but back then it was like, ‘oh we’ve got this song. I guess we’ll just mix it today.’ We had nothing else going on.”