Siberian Traps is a four-piece band from Fort Worth, Texas consisting of Seth Reeves (guitar, vocals), Peter Wierenga (drums), Mike Best (bass), and Ben Hance (guitar, keys, vocals). Originally forming in Nashville, Tennessee in 2009 after Reeves met Wierenga at a house show, the band relocated to Fort Worth, Reeves’ hometown, in 2012. Drawing on influences such as early R.E.M., The Beach Boys, and Neil Young, the band’s sound inhabits a space where 60’s harmonic pop merges with 80’s post-punk energy, where jangly guitars and layered vocal hooks move hypnotically atop a kinetic rhythm section.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with Seth Reeves (lead singer) about the band’s influences, their new project, the digital music world and more.
Full Q&A along with links and a stream of Outtasight below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
We’re from Fort Worth, Texas, though we originally formed in Nashville, Tennessee, and we make psychedelic-ish rock thrown into a blender with what I might term quirk-pop. The first music I have any memory of responding to emotionally was my parents’ Beach Boys vinyl records at about the age of three. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the music that most strongly resonates me usually goes back to that formative experience. There’s a certain tension between longing and release that I think the best pop music has. I suppose that’s the sort of thing that drew me to writing my own songs, and it’s also what perks my ears up the most with any other music I hear.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
It’s interesting that you used the word “path” in the question. I’m sure I’m not unique in this, but when I hear music, I tend to ‘see’ it spatially. So with songwriting, I always feel like I’m on a plain and there’s a horizon out there I’m perpetually walking toward. The band and I will be working on a song and that’s the thing that’s present with us at the moment, but there’s the promise of the new ideas brewing in my head that forms a horizon we seem to push against. I love that we never get there. It’s like any other thing that gives you that sense of discovery. Music is endless.
Also, I have a day job as a high school English teacher, a job that I actually really love, so songwriting and playing in a band has become a useful creative outlet for many of the things I think about and experience in my career.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
Indicator easily the most fun I’ve had in the studio, and much of the record seem to come quite effortlessly, both in the writing and recording process. At first, I didn’t trust the process much because our previous records have seemed like such a labor to realize. I kept thinking, “This isn’t supposed to be this easy.” But to back up, shortly after the release of our previous album Stray Dogs, we asked multi-instrumentalist Ben Hance to join the band. He had played keys and synth on a couple of tracks on Stray Dogs, and we liked his contributions so much that we asked him on full-time. Before that, we had played as a three-piece for a couple of years. Having Ben in the band freed up my writing and prevented me from second-guessing a lot of the ideas I had. I knew we’d find a way to make something worthwhile out of those ideas. So almost unintentionally, we wrote an album’s worth of material less than eight months after the release of the previous one. Rather than sit on those songs for another year or two, we decided to record another one and to work quickly, since our M.O. was usually to labor exhaustively over a record.
We tracked much the record live in a big room at Cloudland Recording Studio in Fort Worth. The amps weren’t isolated, everything was in the same room. As a result, the entire aesthetic of Indicator took on a more cohesive, almost symphonic feel. So this is the most album album we’ve put out. Stray Dogs is more like a jangle-pop singles record. Indicator is really meant to be listened to from start to finish.
Do you face challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? How has technology helped you (assuming it helps)?
I’m not really familiar with what it was like as a musician in any other age, so it’s hard to say. I think most people who make music in DIY fashion probably have mixed feelings about it. The ease with which you can do it yourself is obviously liberating, but the market is saturated and it’s hard to stand out. There’s also the debate about streaming services and how much the exposure you might get from it is worth the trade off of the negligible compensation of the medium. One thing that’s clear to me is that the technology isn’t going to make it financially solvent for most people. So it ultimately ends up being a labor of love. I’m fine with that because I don’t have to worry about making the music I think people want to hear. The question of what other people might want me to do with music never comes into my head.
Where can we connect with you online and discover more music?