On a bleak, cold, frighteningly typical winter night in 2002, the last band I was in before Trampled by Turtles played our final show in a modified pizza restaurant-turned-venue in Duluth, Minnesota. The show ended, our band ended, glasses clinked cheers. We had plenty of help loading out our gear that night. So much, in fact, that someone walked away with my electric guitar and amp. They walked right passed the car where it was supposed to end up and went off into the frozen night, putting a giant period on the end of a what had been a short, struggling, but very necessary musical time for me.
I was now fully unemployed and sleeping indoors only by the good graces of friends willing to share a couch, and the loss of my instruments was more than a little devastating. Of the few possessions I still had, the one that now gained top billing was a cheap acoustic guitar collecting dust in a small room on Duluth’s central hillside. A few other musicians in town had similar instruments collecting a similar dust and we started what was our first acoustic band, Trampled by Turtles.
We’ve been able to stay together ever since and had some good fortune that escapes many more deserving and talented bands. Lately, though, the drums and amps ringing in the back of my head have been getting louder and the desire to play, write, and record in a way removed from what I’ve been up to has been getting stronger. Dead Man Winter was born out of these things.
I’d been renting a studio in Minneapolis, and with the help of some amazing people I set to the task of making a record. My partner in the dirty and thankless work of recording was local engineer, songwriter, producer, guitarslinger, and master of the vibe Erik Koskinen. We spent countless blissful hours exploring guitars, amps, mics, and players in the worn-in beauty and sanctity of Realphonic Studios. Without a doubt, countless more hours could have been spent but you can’t begin work on the next record until you put out the current one, so here it is.
The musicians that play on this album are dear friends – there’s not a one of whom would I’d hesitate to trust a song that I hold dear. In the end, the whole experience has reconnected me to that couch-surfing kid in Duluth trying to figure out what to do next in this big, terrifying, wonderful world and now, with a few more years behind me, it’s refreshing.
- Dave Simonett, 2011