Michael and Tanya Trotter of The War and Treaty discuss their major label debut and an on-stage mishap for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted songs by Protomartyr, May Erlewine, Earth Radio & more.
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When Michael Trotter of The War and Treaty fractured his leg in the middle of a performance on stage at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium earlier this month, then knocked himself out when he fell, the nightmarish scenario left bystanders alarmed and emergency personnel scrambling.
But to hear it from the acclaimed singer, songwriter and pianist, it was a proud milestone that should go down in the illustrious history of modern live music.
“I must say that was the most rock ’n’ roll moment of all time,” Trotter told Local Spins with a giant grin, conceding he was fortunate the break wasn’t severe, won’t require surgery and won’t alter the band’s upcoming tour.
The on-stage incident came just days before The War and Treaty was set to release its first major label album via Universal Music Group Nashville, a collection produced by the Grammy Award-winning Dave Cobb – someone the Michigan-bred band has long wanted to enlist for a recording project.
Officially released today, “Lover’s Game” represents The War and Treaty’s signature sound and greatest strength thanks to Cobb, who rightly emphasized the duo’s “true vocal power.”
“It’s love, it’s rock ’n’ roll, it’s blues, it’s country. It’s everything we love,” Trotter insisted. “We’re super-excited. We’re so honored and excited for people to hear it.”
Of course, Trotter also was excited and could barely wait to tell Local Spins the story of his Ryman mishap, which took place at the end of The War and Treaty’s performance paying tribute to Ray Charles and Joan Jett during the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “Rock the Ryman” event.
Trotter said he took a step back during the rousing finish to “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and thought he had suffered a shin splint.
“Little did I know, it wasn’t a shin splint – I was breaking my fibula. I was falling and I smacked my head on the piano and it knocked me out,” he said. “I was out for about 40 seconds. It’s gotta be one of the most rock ’n’ roll stories of Local Spins this year.”
His wife and singing partner, Tanya, conceded she thought he was pulling one of his frequent pranks (“He’s a trickster”), until she realized that he really had been knocked unconscious.
A doctor who was in the audience jumped onto the stage to help while staff from Ryman tended to the fallen musician, who was transported to a Nashville hospital. Trotter thanked all of them, describing them as “stellar, stellar human beings.”
Although it’s slowed him down – with The War and Treaty spending time in New York this week to promote the new album and do media interviews – the bone break wasn’t serious and won’t alter the band’s performances.
‘NEW START,’ NEW LABEL, AN AWARD NOMINATION AND A GR TOUR STOP
Touring behind the new album includes appearances next week at Austin’s South By Southwest, with “The Lover’s Game Tour” crisscrossing the United States and stopping at The Stache inside The Intersection in Grand Rapids on April 20. Tickets are $21 in advance ($26 day of show) and available online here.
The Trotters also received some uplifting news while in New York this week: The War and Treaty has been nominated for group/duo video of the year for “That’s How Love Is Made” at the upcoming CMT Music Awards in April.
All of it has added up to an action-packed year of highlights for the band, starting with their signing last May to UMG Nashville, a label with a roster that includes superstars Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Keith Urban and many more.
“That was the beginning of this new start,” Tanya Trotter said.
Added Michael: “It feels so darned good. The label has taken great care of us.”
It also gave them the opportunity to get into the studio with Cobb, who Michael described as “special. You’re working with the best … He found our true vocal power. It’s all about the vocals with this record.”
Indeed, with traces of Ray Charles, gospel and other influences, tracks on “Lover’s Game” resonate with Tanya and Michael’s rich, powerful and soulful singing, something that dominates the tracks “Ain’t No Harmin’ Me” and “Have You a Heart” that the couple highlighted for today’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE. Watch a video of their recent performance of “Ain’t No Harmin’ Me” at the Grand Ole Opry here and scroll down to listen to the full radio show podcast.
VIDEO: The War and Treaty, “Ain’t No Harmin’ Me” (Live)
MICHIGAN WILL ALWAYS BE HOME AND A REASON FOR FANS TO BE PROUD
The Trotters have settled comfortably in Nashville the past few years. But while they no longer maintain a residence in Albion, where they first began their musical journey, they insisted that Michigan will always be home.
“Albion is such a unique town,” Tanya noted, adding she vividly and fondly recalls the band’s first performance in Grand Rapids, on the air for Local Spins on WYCE.
“I just remember feeling like Michigan understands us,” added Michael, who’s eager to purchase a home in Albion at some point. “I’m Michigan through and through.”
Another diehard Michigander, multi-instrumentalist Max Brown, continues to serve as The War and Treaty’s music director.
“I just don’t know how it would feel without a Max Brown,” Michael said of the guitarist and bassist who has roots in Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo. “Aside from him just being a great musician, I don’t think people understand that he is the greatest guy I’ve ever met in my life.”
That Michigan love is sure to bubble over during the band’s April tour stop in Grand Rapids, Michael added.
“Honesty, high-energy, some very intimate moments,” he said of what fans can expect that night. “But I think people will just expect to feel proud, the people who have journeyed with us. That’s something we look forward to the most.”
In addition to showcasing The War and Treaty’s new music, this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE — which focuses on music from Michigan artists at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org — highlighted new music by Protomartyr, Boundary Water Trio (wsg Charlie Millard), Xotrey, Dan Terry, Sebastian & The Mood and Hunter VanKlompenberg, Earth Radio, Three Spoke Wheel, May Erlewine and the Women of Rock Super-Group (which you can read more about in this feature). Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (3/10/23)
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