They're one of the hottest bands in the local music scene, and FOX 9's Maury Glover sat down with Trampled by Turtles as they celebrate their 10th anniversary with a series of sold-out shows at First Avenue.
The band has headlined music festivals like Rock the Garden, and one of their albums even soared to the top of the bluegrass charts -- staying in the Top 10 for over a year. Now, after a decade of paying their dues, the musicians from Duluth are starting to hit it big.
"It's been a good run so far," said Dave Simonett. "To me, it doesn't seem like 10 years. It seems like a consistent flow."
In the heart of the city, there's a beat that has a twinge of the country. The banjo-picking, foot-stomping, and homey harmonies gets Trampled by Turtles fans out of their shells.
What started as an acoustic side-project for lead singer Simonett after his electric guitar was stolen is now the main act, but the group didn't get its name until they played a gig at the Homegrown Music Festival in Duluth shortly after they formed.
"Everybody brought their notebooks with lists of names, and they were all just awful," Simonett recalled. "[Trampled by Turtles] was the first one that nobody was like, 'That's terrible.' So, it was like, 'It's fine. Let's throw it on the flier.'"
For the first few years, Simonett -- along with Erik Berry on mandolin, Ryan Young on Fiddle, Dave Carrol on banjo and Tim Saxhaug on bass -- experimented with musical chemistry until they came up with a sound that is uniquely their own.
"We've all played in different kinds of bands," Young told FOX 9 News. "It hasn't been folky, bluegrass bands. We've been in rock bands. I used to play in a speed metal band. Our mandolin player played in a Black Sabbath cover band."
In fact, their now-signature sound evolved out of a search, Simonett explains.
"At the time, we wanted to explore old music that none of us had heard or were that educated about," he recalled. "That was the focus then: Let's take these instruments, let's learn that music and try to write our own version of it. Now, it's just how we write."
They also hit the road, playing up to 200 shows a year. Soon, their brand of bluegrass was getting grassroots support and by the time their fifth album came out with the signature song "Wait So Long," the curious crowds began to grow.
"We've always had a little bit in pockets, and thankfully, it's grown -- in the last two years, exponentially," said Simonett.
Recently, the band has been on a roll -- appearing on late night shows like David Letterman and performing at large festivals like Lollapalooza. They've even been animated on the Adult Swim series "Squidbillies."
Even with their surging success, they still call Minnesota home. Now that they've got a stretch of sets on the state's most venerable stage, the band mates say it's a little surreal.
"I never expected anything. I just did it for fun, played with my buddies in the basement or a living room," said Young. "Never really expected to play First Avenue, let alone three shows or have a star outside. None of that has hit me. It doesn't seem real."
"We're very grateful," Simonett added.
Their fans are grateful too. In fact, there was practically a stampede at the box office for the first of three sold-out anniversary shows at First Avenue.
Yet, no matter how big Trampled by Turtles gets, the band promises it will always stay true to their Minnesota roots. After the shows in downtown Minneapolis, the tour will take them to other locations across the state. After that, they plan to take a break to work on some new music.
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