Eric Earley didn't know he'd be in York.
During a July 13 phone interview, the frontman for the indie rock band Blitzen Trapper was curious about the First Capital.
"I'm not familiar with East Coast geography," said Earley, who was raised about an hour south of Portland, Ore.
Now, he'll know he's two hours southeast of Philadelphia when he takes the Capitol Theatre stage tonight with his band.
Earley is the kind of guy who prefers the big picture to the small picture. He doesn't memorize tour schedules. But when he's in a town, he likes to explore, especially if it's new to him. He pronounced Burlington, Vt. - where he called from - to be a nice college town.
A few minutes before the interview, the band released the video for "Girl in a Coat," a track from its most recent album "American Goldwing."
The group's drummer, Brian Koch, made it as a homage to his grandfather, who died recently.
"He got a bunch of footage from him while he was still alive," Earley said. "The two of them look pretty identical."
"American Goldwing" features many faces and places of the past.
"The record (has) personal songs about relationships of mine and the others are more just about my childhood and where I grew up," Earley said. "I intend to write from where I know."
Growing up, Earley said he listened to what his dad did - country, bluegrass and classic rock. Later, Earley got into metal and grunge. Those influences found their way into his music, which tends to pour out of him periodically. The latest album was done in about four months. That's how it usually works for Earley. He said he prefers to write in the solace of home as opposed to on the road.
Fans and critics have lauded the band, which formed around the millennium and released its debut in 2003. It broke out with its 2007 release "Wild Mountain Nation" and followed up in 2008 with "Furr." But in a press release about the band's recent album, Earley talked about the group's "reluctant success." Critical praise is small-picture. Earley's not interested.
"I find it's easy to ignore if you want to," he said over the phone. "You don't go on the Internet. I just enjoy playing shows."
While cutting its teeth on tour, Blitzen Trapper looked to headliners like The Hold Steady and Wilco. Iron and Wine and Fleet Foxes also taught by example, Earley said. Now, his band knows what works for them on stage.
But on the festival circuit, lineups can be random. Sometimes, that's a bad thing. But there are times, including this year's South by Southwest festival, when it works out fine.
"The final show was really big," Earley said. "The guys from R.E.M. played with us for (a) song."
Friday, Blitzen Trapper is on the bill with Wilco and Megafaun at the Newport Folk Festival. More festival dates and theater shows follow until mid-August. Then, Earley gets to focus on the big picture again until the tour pick up in September.
"It will be summer and I'll get to swim in the rivers and go hunting and ride my motorcycles and hang out with friends," he said.
- ERIN MCCRACKEN,
If you go
Blitzen Trapper will perform 8 tonight at the Capitol Theatre, 50 N. George St., York. Sarah Jaffe will open the CapLive concert. Tickets cost $23. For details and tickets, call 717-846-1111 or visit mystrandcapitol.org.
Meet the bandEric Earley - lead vocals
Brian Koch - drums
Marty Marquis - rhythm guitar
Michael Van Pelt - bass
Erik Menteer - lead guitar