Hailing from Nashville, Siberian Traps is an indie rock band now based in Fort Worth, Texas. The band consists Seth Reeves (guitar, vocals), Peter Wierenga (drums), Mike Best (bass), and Ben Hance (guitar, keys, vocals). Originally formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 2009, the band relocated to Fort Worth, also Reeves’ hometown, in 2012.
Siberian Traps released their first album “Blackfoot” in 2013 and their second album “Stray Dogs” in 2016. The upcoming third album “Indicator” will release Friday June 9. We spoke with frontman Seth Reeves and drummer Peter Wierenga.
Congrats on the third album. Can you tell me more about it? What’s the concept behind it? How does this differ from the previous two albums?
Peter: “Indicator” was the first record I related to. Most records you have to get in your songwriter’s head, but Seth and the band were all on similar wavelengths. Last year was a weird year and the album reflects it. The biggest change was Ben Hance joining the band. He’s one of the best overall musicians I’ve worked with. It was also the first album we did in house, besides mastering by Jordan Richardson. The last one, “Stray Dogs,” was a transition into this kind of work flow. We like working with people, but it’s nice to have more control now and then.
Seth: “Indicator” feels like the most album album we’ve made yet. Although I think the individual songs are some of the strongest we’ve written and recorded, the record hangs together with a cohesiveness that our previous albums probably don’t have. I really hope people enjoy listening to it from start to finish. As for a concept, I didn’t really start with a concept in mind when we started working on the songs that became “Indicator.” As we finished the writing and moved into the recording process, I began to realize that about half the songs were full of water imagery and about half of them referred in some way to the sky. Of course, the songs aren’t, in most cases, literally about water and sky, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed a couple of motifs had emerged. So with the vinyl, we chose not to have a Side A and a Side B. Instead it has Water Side and Sky Side; listen in whichever order you like.
What message do you hope listeners take away from the new album?
Peter: Sometimes you only remember the anticipation or reflection of important events. You choose whether you see opportunity or a dead end.
Seth: I don’t know if there’s a message as much as impressions that I think it might convey, but that really depends on the listener. I feel like there’s quite a bit in the songs about our relationship with natural elements like water, land, sky. The title track comes from the scientific name (Indicator Indicator) of the Greater Honeyguide Bird, which is a species native to sub-Saharan Africa. I heard a bit about them on NPR one day, detailing the symbiotic relationship they’ve developed with different peoples of East Africa. These groups and the birds have developed a particular way of calling to each other, and based on this the birds lead the people to trees where honeybees live. As a result, the people get the honey and the birds get to eat the larvae and the leftovers. I was fascinated with this symbiosis, and the inter-species “language” that makes it possible. So maybe there’s something in the record about all the give-and-take dynamics in our lives.
I really like the album art. Smooth, slick, colorful. It reminds me of learning about light waves in physics class to be honest! Who created the artwork?
Seth: I’m glad to hear it calls to mind light-waves and physics because I have a pretty big interest in physics myself. The original image was a sort of prime number visualization that I happened across one day on Google image search. I tracked down the creator of the image on Reddit, a guy by the name of Jack Stehn, and asked him if we could use it as part of our album art. He graciously agreed, and then our lead guitarist/keyboardist Ben Hance created the design from there.
This is your first release on vinyl. How do y’all feel about that?
Peter: It feels good to have something physical, especially since CDs are phasing out. Most of what people listen to seems to be from streaming services. Having something tangible reminds me of why I started playing and recording in the first place.
Seth: It feels great, especially because, as I said before, this is our most cohesive record yet. I feel like vinyl is the format most fitting if you want to put a record on and play it all the way through. I also like that the listener gets to decide which side is “Side A.”
Having formed first in Nashville, what made you guys decide to relocate to Fort Worth?
Peter: Fort Worth has a unique sound. We saw that on the first tour we did, and had friends that moved down a year previous. It’s a type of place you make the music you want to, and people that actually want to work together. I wouldn’t be anywhere else right now.
Seth: I’m originally from the Fort Worth area and grew up here. In 2009, I decided to move to Nashville to pursue music a bit more seriously. At the time, it seemed like the place to do just that, and I had several friends from Fort Worth that had already moved there. I met Peter shortly after moving there, and before long we had found some others to play with and started Siberian Traps. In 2012, due mostly to family issues, I felt it was time to move back. Peter had just graduated college and decided he wanted to keep doing Traps with me, so he moved down as well. In time we found Mike Best, our bassist, and later we asked Ben, who plays in several bands/projects around town, to join full time. I feel like it wasn’t until we relocated that we really hit our stride, so in hindsight, I think it was a good decision.
For new listeners, how would you describe your music in 3 words?
Peter: Desert, sky, Seth.
Seth: Quirky. Shimmery. Tuneful.