Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module

New Country

Tom Schraeder and his Gram Parsons-Wilco-Paul Westerberg-Tim Booth-inspired sound, fresh off Lollapalooza, are on the brink of stardom.

Sitting on a barstool, his hand wrapped around a $1 pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon, 23-year-old Tom Schraeder talks about Tom Schraeder & His Ego. That’s the eight-piece country-pop band he fronts that you’ve probably never heard of. “It’s strange,” Schraeder says. “You know all those steps that you’re supposed to take? Well, somehow, I just jumped them by accident and got lucky.”

By “lucky,” Schraeder means the roughly 20 gigs he played before booking the biggest date of his career: a set at last summer’s Lollapalooza, arguably the nation’s premier music festival. He’s also landed a showcase before talent scouts at New York’s CMJ festival in late October—all of this without a full-length album or a record deal, just a handful of songs on MySpace. “A few months ago, I applied to be a Chicago fireman, just in case,” he says. His day of reckoning is November 16th, when his first full-length album drops.

Schraeder didn’t even dream of being a musician as a kid; he wanted to be a music reporter like his Old Irving neighbor Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago Sun-Times music critic. “He let me tag along to concerts so I could see what the job was like,” recalls Schraeder, whose mother is a grammar school secretary and whose father works for Streets and Sanitation. “But when I got out of high school, and got into playing my own music, Jim stayed away” to avoid a conflict of interest. Indeed, DeRogatis says he “intentionally” kept his distance from the kid next door “until he had a show that was newsworthy.” That happened at Lollapalooza. “If he sucked, I would have written that he sucked,” says DeRogatis; instead, he says Schraeder was “really good” and wrote so on his blog.

Back at the bar, a friend teases Schraeder about his new Chuck Taylor sneakers, a gift from his parents, who couldn’t stand the sight of the duct-taped pair he wore onstage at Lollapalooza. Schraeder laughs: Money’s tight; his sneakers are the least of his worries. There’s no rock-star image to protect, not yet.


Photograph: Joe Wigdahl

Share

Edit Module

Advertisement

Edit Module
Submit your comment

Comments are moderated. We review them in an effort to remove foul language, commercial messages, abuse, and irrelevancies.

Edit Module