Trapper Schoepp,
The TVD First Date

“At one point this year, I had hi-fis in every room of my house except the kitchen.”

“Each of the four setups was meticulously pieced together by my brother and bassist, Tanner. He’s keen on Sansui stereo receivers from the seventies. I’ve accompanied him on Craigslist missions around the tri-state area to buy these solid state gems from the heyday of hifi. While I don’t speak the technical jargon as to why these receivers are sonically sweet, I can see why Tanner is so passionate about the vintage system.

The brushed aluminum and wood paneling looks elegant. They’re loud and heavy. It’s like the exchange about the night vision goggles in Jurassic Park: “Are they heavy? Then they’re expensive. Put ‘em back.” In any case, they’re cheaper than anything modern from Best Buy and probably sound better, too. And we have great local radio stations like WMSE and Radio Milwaukee, so I appreciate the tuner and green lit dial.

Our love of records started at Atomic Records in Milwaukee, WI. The letters “A-T-O-M-I-C” were blocked out in yellow neon lights across storefront window squares. The glow of neon draws you in. They hosted legendary in-stores, and musicians like Dave Grohl have been spotted repping Atomic tees. To me, it felt like a microcosm of the local music scene, and was the antithesis of big box stores where I bought CDs as a kid.

It was an Atomic clerk and now friend named Sahan who hipped me to what we jokingly dubbed the “truer sound” of vinyl, a nod to a Son Volt lyric about AM radio. I was bummed to see Atomic close its doors only to be replaced by a head shop that misappropriated its name.

The first vinyl record I bought was a used copy of Closing Time by Tom Waits. I’d mistakenly got this CD as a teenager thinking it contained the Semisonic hit of the same name—a happy accident if there ever was. I realized these Tom Waits songs sounded different on the vinyl format. They sounded less compressed and more present and warm, which drove home the feelings in Waits’ wondrous voice as he sings about his first car in “Ol’ 55.”

A little hiss and pop doesn’t distract you from the story of two old lovers catching up via a long distance phone call on “Martha” (presumably on a pay phone in the pouring rain)—it might even embellish it. He sings, “And those were the days of roses, of poetry and prose/And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me.” Some dust in the groove won’t detract from lyrics that good! But Tanner is a stickler for clean records and is always harping on me to do a quick clean before playing.

As I began to rebuild my CD collection in the vinyl format, so did many of my friends. We would take field trips to a shop in town called Bullseye Records to flip for “must have” copies of albums like Springsteen’s Nebraska, The Replacements’ Pleased To Meet Me, and Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. There was an element of ceremony in spinning those records every weekend with my friends. Simply put, music makes me happy and I hear and feel it a little better on LP.”
Trapper Schoepp

“May Day,” the title track from the forthcoming release from Trapper Schoepp is in stores now. May Day, the full-length release, arrives in stores on May 21 via Grand Phony Records—on vinyl.

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PHOTO: ABBY ARTISH

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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