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New Music to Know: Terraplane Sun Embraces Lap Steel, Trombone & Other Odd Instruments

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Annie Reuter
Annie Reuter
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It’s hard to figure out what genre Terraplane Sun is. In fact, they wish you wouldn’t even bother.

Comprised of five friends who are also multi-instrumentalists, the California-based rock band can easily tour with a country act, rock band, or hip-hop group. All of which they’ve done previously.

On their latest EP, Ya Never Know, the band mixes trombone, lap steel, organ and electric guitar together. And that’s just on one song. It’s not something you’d hear from a typical rock band. Terraplane Sun admit their eclectic sound wasn’t planned, rather it came together organically.

“The majority of us are multi-instrumentalists but we’re not just throwing in these instruments to showboat and say, ‘Look what I can do. Isn’t this neat? Check this out!'” guitarist Johnny Zambetti told Radio.com. “It’s definitely song specific. We’re just lucky enough to hear that in our heads.”

Before the group met keyboardist/trombonist/lap steel player Gabe Feenberg they had the idea for a trombone part in “Tell Me I’m Wrong.” Once he joined the group and confessed he played the instrument it seemed as if it was fate. Thanks to Feenberg’s lap steel, the band’s song, “No Regrets” takes on more of a country feel.

“It’s really cool to have these ideas and be able to take it to the stage live,” Zambetti said. “He pulls out a lap steel and is playing an organ at the same time. It blows my mind every night.”

He continued: “We have a freedom to weave in and out of different genres because at the end of the day he’s [frontman Ben Rothbard] singing on it so it’s going to sound like Terraplane Sun.”

Terraplane Sun’s current single “Get Me Golden” is just a hint of what’s to come. Complete with an organ, a bit of hand-clapping and a trombone, the track becomes an adequate introduction to the band.

“I had this organ line in my head and I took it to the studio and laid it down,” Rothbard said of how the song came together. “It was a dancier thing and I had Motown in mind.”

While the band wouldn’t go into detail of what the song specifically is about, they said they value their fans interpretations.

“We know what we’re saying, but not even to the specific point of an exact meaning behind it,” Rothbard said. “We’re throwing words together with a general feel or emotion. It’s up to the listener to take it for what it is. I’m all about their interpretations of the song.”

One lyric on “Get Me Golden” has responded well with fans: “All I want is to know that the love is worth the sacrifice.”

It’s a line that almost didn’t make it on the album for fear that it wasn’t universal enough. In the end, it turned out being one of the most tweeted lines by fans. “It resonates with people because that can apply to anything,” Rothbard said.

The lyric also seems to sum up the band’s work ethic and view on music.

“Where we were coming from, at least in my mind, you put a lot of hard work into this and it’s all about the love for us,” he said. “Music is everything to me but it does come with a price at the end of the day.”

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