Utah alt-country group Triggers & Slips releases third introspective album

Country-folk band’s third album, ‘What Do You Feed Your Darkness?,’ comes out Sept. 9.

(Courtesy Triggers & Slips) Morgan Snow, principal singer-songwriter of the Salt Lake City country-folk band Triggers & Slips.

Morgan Snow knew he had a good song with “What Do You Feed Your Darkness?,” but he said it wasn’t clear at first that it should be the title track for the new album by his band, Triggers & Slips.

When the band started commissioning artwork for the album, one image stuck with Snow: An owl holding a lantern, with moths gravitating toward it.

“You feed your darkness and then you listen to it,” said Snow, the band’s principal singer-songwriter. “That’s the golden thread for every single song.”

Then he played the song at a benefit concert for Ken Sanders, the legendary bookstore owner and Utah counterculture icon. Sanders quoted back the first line, “What do you feed your darkness?”

“He said, ‘That is a title right there,’” Snow recalled. “I don’t ever take advice from him lightly.”

Snow added, “I’ve always liked the idea that songwriters are really good listeners and that your job is equally as much to listen to what comes to you as it is to try and create something from thin air.”

The album, “What Do You Feed Your Darkness?,” is the third from Triggers & Slips, the Salt Lake City-based genre-blending folk, Americana and country band. It will be released Friday, Sept. 9, and the band will hold an album-release concert Friday night at The State Room, 638 S. State St., Salt Lake City.

Snow said the band chipped away at the album through the COVID-19 pandemic, and its themes of self-reflection fittingly came from that period.

Several of the songs, Snow said, encapsulate a certain period of his life: Right before he made a move across the country to Nashville and when he lived there for a few years. The songs speak to his thoughts on his own relationships and struggles.

“Some of it came out with a little bit of humor, [some] came out pretty direct and petty,” he said. “I didn’t really shy away from wanting to change either of those dynamics.”

(Courtesy of Triggers & Slips) The cover art for Triggers & Slips' new album, "What Do You Feed Your Darkness?," set for release on Sept. 9. 2022.

The craft of songwriting

Snow said he tries to use “songwriting to talk about pretty personal things” and that he “uses the song as a way to shield” himself at the same time.

“I learned a lot about songwriting in the year leading up to writing this album,” he said. “I feel like I had a lot more tools in my box to pull from to write more concise songs.”

Living in Nashville, Snow said, forced him to become a better songwriter — because the competition from all the great singer-songwriters there sometimes made him feel “inadequate.”

“The craftsmanship of [songwriting] really shows a lot more promise in this most recent album,” Snow said.

Working on this album also allowed Snow to get more in touch with himself, he said. He speaks of how he never really planned on being a musician, he just “got the bug.” He dreamed of being a professional baseball player, but when he realized that dream wouldn’t come true, he turned his energy toward his guitar and used it as a coping mechanism.

You can hear that melancholy in his voice, which is wise, tinged with yearning and earnestness in the way the best country musicians are. You want to listen, no matter what he’s singing about.

A lot of moments on the album were recorded “live” — as in, in a single take — to get that elusive sense of magic, and that’s what made the process so fun, Snow said.

Snow can trace all the backstories of the 10-track album, which is chock-full with twangy vocals, short but punchy lyrics and thoughtfully arranged instruments.

Take, for example, the track “Future Variations.” “The song was written as I was getting ready to move, take the leap, quit my job and try this thing of going out and learning what I didn’t know and testing myself a little bit,” Snow said.

The band recorded the track on Dec. 29, 2019. “I remember getting emotional after that,” he said, adding that it was the last song from that session. “Afterwards, [for] all of us, there was this ominous feeling [that we knew] there was nothing we could do that was going to make it better or different.”

Recording that particular track, Snow said, left the band awestruck.

“I will never forget the emotional rawness that I felt walking out of that recording room,” he said. “There was something that just showed up for us when we recorded that song that I don’t even want to put into words.”

A country band in Utah

Country music has its fans in Utah — about 1 in 10 listen to one of the market’s three major country radio stations — but it’s not seen as an incubator for country acts. Snow said he considers it a blessing not to be part of Utah’s indie music scene, because professionally, they get hired for more gigs.

Being a country artist, Snow said, has inspired him to work harder, to earn the respect of those who don’t like the genre. For him, it’s a “badge of honor” to shatter listeners’ preconceived notions of country music when they listen to his band.

“One of our greatest compliments is that we so often are told by people that end up at our shows, that ‘we don’t like country, but we really love you guys,’” Snow said.

For all of his traveling, Snow said Salt Lake City is ingrained in his “psyche and DNA” and plays a role in his music, no matter how subtle. Snow is a direct descendant of Erastus Snow, one of the first two Mormons to enter the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, three days before Brigham Young arrived and declared “this is the place.”

“Reading about my great-great-grandfather and what he loved outside of the church, I think it’s hard not to see some of the similarities in my personality type and what he was, for sure,” Snow said, adding that his ancestor as “a wonder, a wanderer, a truth seeker and an orator.”

A little of that wonderment and truth-seeking comes out in “What Do You Feed Your Darkness?,” an album that Snow said is mature, and the best album Triggers & Slips has produced.

“It’s the album that I’ve kind of been wanting to do since I started playing music,” Snow said.

Triggers & Slips’ third album, “What Do You Feed Your Darkness?,” will be released on all streaming platforms on Sept. 9. The band will perform an album-release concert at The State Room, 638 S. State St., Salt Lake City, on the same night. Elle and the Echo will open the show. Tickets are available at thestateroompresents.com. This is a 21-and-older show.