Dave Simonett has strayed away from Trampled By Turtles in the past, mostly via his side project Dead Man Winter. But Red Tail, out March 13 and premiering exclusively on Billboard one day early (March 12), marks the first time Simonett has stepped out under his own name — a prospect that became more palatable over time.
“Dead Man Winter was supposed to be, in my mind, an umbrella for all my solo work, but as it’s progressed it’s become a band in itself,” Simonett tells Billboard. “This time I knew I wanted to do another solo album, and initially I was just going to do it by myself and explore maybe a little different of a sonic landscape. Once I decided what was going to be on the record I decided to put it under my own name so it wasn’t confusing to me or other people.”
Simonett actually planned to make Red Tail as a one-man band, working at his home studio in Minneapolis-St. Paul — a method still clear on tracks such as “Pisces, Queen of Hearts,” “By the Light of The Moon” and “It Comes and Goes.” But he subsequently recruited a trio of musician friends from the area to help him work on arrangements that became more ethereal and spacious, taking those songs into Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minn., to finish.
“The easiest way I know how to do different things is to try different groups of people playing on it,” Simonett explains. “I really liked the way some of the songs were turning out, but there were a few I thought could use more weight, so those are the ones I did with the other guys. I listen to a lot of ethereal and ambient music; it’s not a landscape I’ve explored that much, playing-wise, so it was fun to take what would normally be a folk song or a little Americana three-chord thing and put it with these guys and say, ‘Let’s try this and see what happens.'”
Simonett will be playing solo shows to promote Red Tail — a spring run starting March 25 in Chicago before Trampled By Turtles returns to the road, and then hopefully some dates in the fall. His “day job” band is starting to talk about a new album, and while Simonett considers Dead Man Winter an active concern he’s also excited about the prospect of doing more under his own name.
“I like the thought of now having at least a third kind of outlet,” Simonett says. “[Red Tail] isn’t a statement of ‘Here’s a statement about me, so I’m going to put it out under my own name.’ If anything, the last Dead Man Winter record [2017’s Furnace] is the probably the most personal thing I’ve ever done. But now Trampled is one thing, the Dead Man Winter project can be one thing and this [solo] thing can be anything I want. I do like that.”
Listen to Red Tail below.