Friday, December 8, 2023

An Interview With Corey Saathoff from The Trophy Mules

The Trophy Mules have been a fixture on the St. Louis music scene for several years and continue to create material that stretches across musical boundaries.

The St. Louis band fronted by Corey Saathoff released the full-length album “Sorry Motel” in 2013 and six-song effort “Sunset Collapse” in 2016.

In November 2022, the band released its full-length album “No Sooner Than the Moon.” Trophy Mules pedal steel guitar player Scott Swartz recorded, mixed and engineered “No Sooner Than the Moon” at his home studio known as Filament Glow Recording in Chesterfield, Mo., over the past few years.

“No Sooner Than the Moon” features 12 original tracks – nine written by Trophy Mules founding member, singer/guitarist Corey Saathoff, and three by keyboardist/guitarist Josh Kean.

It’s a departure from the band’s previous efforts, which were more rooted in the Americana-country-folk-rock vein. This latest release incorporates lush cosmic and psychedelic sounds with an air of melancholy at times – there’s vocals with echo, reverb, delay and other effects that give off spacey, ghostly vibes.

Song lyrics on “No Sooner Than the Moon” range from themes of everyday life issues to relationships, mental and physical health, politics and nature.

All of the releases by The Trophy Mules are available on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify and Bandcamp and several other platforms. KDHX 88.1 FM in St. Louis has played several of the band’s songs on the air.

The Riverfront Times in St. Louis has praised the band’s music as “exceptionally well-played, pleasant country/Americana.”

Saathoff fronted St. Louis acts Jerkwater Junction and Brain Regiment prior to forming The Trophy Mules in 2009. In addition to Saathoff, Swartz and Kean, rounding out the band lineup are Jerrod Gordon on bass and Simon Drew on drums.

The Trophy Mules have opened for such national and regional acts as Shooter Jennings, Chris Knight, Webb Wilder, Sons of Bill, American Aquarium, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Trapper Schoepp, Deadstring Brothers, Star & Micey and Mountain Sprout. Whether it be as an acoustic solo/duo act or with his prior bands, Saathoff has also had the honor of opening for the likes of The Bottle Rockets, Slobberbone, Marah and Bobby Bare Jr.

How did you get started, and what has led up to where you are today as an artist?

I’ve always been very much into music but up until college, my focus had been on playing baseball and creative writing.

Eventually, my writing side started to take hold and I had a strong desire to put some of my words to music. Alcohol and heartbreak most likely fueled that desire. I taught myself to play guitar and after learning a few basic chords, I was writing songs.

That has continued for the past 25 years or so and I still enjoy it today.

Who do you feel has influenced your sound the most?

Initially, The Beatles and R.E.M. were my biggest influences. That branched out to Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, The Byrds, Big Star, Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, Townes Van Zandt, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco and Guided By Voices. I’m still being influenced daily.

What do you feel sets you apart from other artists and gives you your own sound?

There’s no pretensions with The Trophy Mules. We throw attitude and ego out the window in an attempt to put our talents together for the sake of each song. In turn, we believe that throws genre out in terms of pigeonholing our sound. The band members come from different musical backgrounds and tastes, which allows us to mix different sounds that magically coalesce.

What has been your biggest challenge and what do you feel you have learned from it?

With us being low-key and not too flashy with our look or attitude, it has been a challenge to stick out from the rest. We trust in our sound and remain hopeful that the music will win out in the end.

Tell us about your latest project, what have you got going on at the moment?

We just released our 12-song album “No Sooner Than the Moon,” which was six years in the making due to COVID and a health situation I endured that severely limited my singing voice. We plan to play concerts in promotion of the new album and already have new songs in the works.

What advice would you give to anyone new coming into the industry?

My advice is to keep writing and recording songs and to not get stuck in a defined genre or music style. Stay true to yourself and do what keeps you motivated.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for getting you to where you are now, anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to?

I’m thankful for all the band members, past and present, who have dedicated their time, talents and treasure over the years in the name of music. It’s been a fun ride that keeps on going.

How can fans find you?

We play shows in and around St. Louis, so if you are in that area, come on out. Otherwise, our music is widely available on all the major music services – Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Bandcamp, etc.

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