After creating one of the great moments in Bonnaroo history, Michael and Tonya Trotter sit down with Brad and Barry to discuss life, love and changing lives. This one will set your soul on fire.
Topics: The War and Treaty, Bonnaroo
Guests: Michael Trotter, Tonya Trotter
Hey, hey, hey, hey. How y'all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bungaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year's show is about the What are they? They will find you. They will grab you by the throat and the heart. And then they will set your soul free. The Warren Treaty. If anything's going to make me go all religious. They'll take you to church. Welcome to this family. I can't wait to share this moment with you. We said this in episodes past. One of the best moments I've ever had a Bungaroo. The Warren Treaty this tent Saturday morning was as good of a feeling I have ever had while simultaneously bawling my eyes out. Yeah, it was one of the great musical events of my life, not just Bungaroo. Because you felt like you were about to see something. You felt like you're on the precipice of something that's about to explode. Not only was it good for your soul, not only do they grab your heart and pump it full of life and oxygen and blood, but you felt like this is going to be the smallest you've ever seen them. Because it's about to blow up for them. Yes, yes, yes. And you mentioned that talking to them a couple of times. It was just such a great moment. Unexpected. The crowd was big, but not huge. So everyone was up close. And to sit there and watch people in the audience yelling, we love you, I love you. And they probably had no idea who they were by then. And then them just sort of standing there absorbing it and then giving it right back. Pretty incredible. And then they were so nice to agree to talk to us. And God, the same thing. You could just feel it. Yeah. And the word that I would associate with them is love. Michael and Tanya Trotter, they fell in love in Michigan. They tell the story about how they meet. And now they're doing this music thing because it's therapy for him as an Iraq War vet who's gone through a massive, massive amount of trauma and is struggling with PTSD. And he wears that on his shoulder and his shirt sleeve every single moment of his life, not just when he's on stage, sitting across the bench from him talking to him. Like I was trembling because he was, he lives with it every second of the day. You could look in his eyes. There's a lot going on. There's a lot going on. And you could see the love in her eyes and you could see the love back from him to her. And just amazing. That was, didn't see that coming at all. Yeah, at all. And I'm so glad to share this and I can't believe that we got them. Congratulations to Barry Courter. What a pull on this one. The War and Treaty. This is our chat backstage of Bonnaroo. It's a little tough. Audio gets a little bit tough, but stick with it because it's worth every second. The War and Treaty on the What Podcast. When Bonnaroo doesn't really think well, when things go really well at Bonnaroo, it's when you find somebody that you don't really know that you wanted to tinker with and you wanted to learn about and then when you walk in there, they blow you away. And you guys did that. I have never had that sort of emotional reaction to that tense show that I've ever had, like that before. That was unbelievable. Thank you so much. Yeah, you guys have something pretty special and I don't know where in the hell that comes from. Where does that come from? Oh man, you know, it comes from love. That's what you can feel. Yeah. Everyone in that tent. Yeah. And we've worked at it and not at all the performance, but we've worked at being in love all the way. And we just celebrated our eighth year of marriage. Congratulations. You guys don't look like you should be married for eight years. You're not that old. No, we're not, but we feel old. Still smiling at each other. Oh yeah. I mean, I have every reason to smile. I do too. You know what I like? Can I ask you about this? Yeah. I've never seen a married couple perform that both of you stand behind the keyboards. That seems like such a simple thing. It's not just technical, is it? Y'all like being close to each other, don't you? I love it. Oh my gosh. Yeah, we started out performing at home or with Michael on the keyboard and I was so used to being beside him. And now that we have a band, I'm not conscious that I'm back there. And then there's this other side of the stage that I can use. And even sitting right here, you guys are touching each other. You're constantly touching. Well, you know what they don't know is I'm just this amazing sex symbol. I have a six pack on the side. I just can't see it. You can't see it on the podcast, but it's there. I feel it. It radiates. Let me see it. I want to see the six pack. Let's see it. It's family radio. And I hate to talk about something that's not about the band and the music, but where did you guys meet? How did you guys get to where you are now? Oh, this is like every time I tell the story, it sounds so cheesy, but we met at a love festival. What does that mean? In Maryland. It was a... By the way, that sounds like something you drop your keys in when you walk in the door, by the way. No, it was actually... I'm originally from Washington, D.C. in Maryland. Really? Yeah. Go Redskins. Yeah. I do. I had to pause when you asked to go Redskins. Go Capitals. Go Capitals. Let's stick with that. Go Capitals, baby. We met... I used to get out backpacks and things for a festival. Yeah. It was called the Love Fest. And Michael came to perform, and I saw him across the field, and I was like, oh my God, who is this guy? He was just killing it. He was just amazing. You're so dreamy. Oh yeah. He's a sex symbol. I felt the same way. I get it. Yeah, you get it? I get it. You felt the whole... Y'all are very, very kind. And that's how we met. I felt truth radiating from Tanya and love and grace. And when we finally met up and just had some real conversation, I had just told her some honesty. And my honesty was I didn't feel worth anything. I just felt like a complete loser. I mean, I was struggling. I had just come out of the military three years prior and still couldn't get on my feet. And I told her the truth. I said, you know, I know I'm supposed to be something in life, but I can't get to it. I can't even get to the doormat. And she just looked me in my eyes and grabbed my hand. She said, I see more for you than what you're talking about. And honestly, that really touched my heart in a way nobody else has ever been able to touch it. And to have somebody as beautiful as Tanya telling me that she see beauty in me, it really helped. And I was able to further let her into my secret of being an award veteran and later on down the line. I was just honest with her. And I think that that's what the audience gets a chance to see is that. Can I marry you? Oh, man, of course. This is what I need in my life. This is everything I need in my life. Let's just say for people that are listening on the podcast, they know Brad and I joke around a lot. But when we say we were crying listening, this is why. This is what we heard today. And this is the show. There's nothing that I love in music more than vulnerability. And showing that vulnerability the way that you guys do is not something that you see very often. It sounds to me like you exuded every second of the day. That's going to be tough. Oh, not really. No, no. This is how you are. That's just how you live. I need I need your secret. Being intentional. It's very intentional. I mean, I wake up intending to be inspired, you know, by everything, you know, and even sad to say. But when you get certain deaths that take place like one of the greatest chefs ever, you know, one of the greatest fashion icons ever. When their truth happens, it it it can either inspire you to say, you know what? I got to be honest or it's going to make you go the other way. And we have intentionally decided to say, you know what? Let's just be honest. How you feel this morning? I feel like crap, you know, and when you when you when you have that kind of honesty and when you have that kind of intentionality behind your motives, things change and people are moved and other people start coming forward. I had a guy who was walking with me today and he touched me on my shoulder and he's a well put together guy, good looking gentleman and has a great job. And he says to me, you know, I struggle with suicidal thoughts and I was able to look him in his eyes and say, I understand because I do, too. But what helps me is knowing that I don't go through this alone, you know, and that's what honestly that's what makes not just America, but that's what makes being a human being so powerful when you can relate and connect and be intentional about loving somebody other than yourself. That that changed the game. I don't know if you all did, but I could feel that in the audience. They heard what you guys were saying when they were yelling back, I love you and all that. That felt real. It was real. It was real. Yeah, that just felt very, very real. It was real. And we felt it from the stage. You know, we're intentional about just taking those moments where we can take it in because when you're up there and you're giving, you know, as an artist, you're putting out, you didn't have to allow your audience to put in put back into you because they want to want you to know that they love you. They want you to know they appreciate you. And it always brings both Michael and I to tears. Yeah, you guys got there. Every audience is different. A lot of stuff ran through my mind. I mean, I tell Tonya this all the time. Well, one, I didn't think this would ever happen. I mean, and not that we've we've made it or done anything like that. But if someone was to tell me back in 2004 when I was sitting in weather, that's reminiscent of this out in Iraq, that you're going to be singing a boner in 2018. And the people are going to going to going to really take to it. You know, I would say, man, then you just see what happened to Clay. I'm not going to make it out of here. And that's a real emotion. And that that kind of moral injury kind of happens to you because you're like, you're not the only soldier that had a dream to sing at Bonnaroo. I know a couple who had big dreams who got killed. And that all that happens in three seconds flat. You think about it all. It rushes in your mind. And then you pause and you say, all right, man, get over yourself. And these are people of all genders and races and backgrounds and different countries out there all being together. And you're helping bring bring that together. And no one's talking about white and black and hoods and suburbs and ghettos. And you know, none of that crazy fat, skinny, you know, tall, short. And loving being human and being human to your music. There's no greater reward than that. You know, great reward in that. Amazing. Like I said, one of my one of the greatest moments Bonnaroo I've ever had. It sounds to me like not only are you performing songs that are therapeutic for you that that you need to get out, but you're also trying to spread a message and you're trying to change lives. I almost take you as somebody who is trying to affect every single person that you meet. I hope so. Yeah, we both hope to. And I think we both feel an amazing amount of pain when we see people fight and hate and we see people don't get it. They don't understand, you know, and it's a painful thing. Some of the stuff that we as a people went through in the 60s and forward. But Ty and I, we had an opportunity to go to Memphis a couple of days ago. And I've never been there. Ty, you never been there, right? Yeah, we've been there once. You went there once? Well, we were, I didn't even realize we were driving right next to the Martin Luther King Hotel where he was killed at. And it didn't hit me until I looked up and I saw the balcony and I immediately. Kicked you in the gut. Yeah. But damn, man, I think where we we go wrong is we stop at that emotion and we don't go forward and look at all the different people that were there with me. White, black, Chinese, Asian, Indian, you know, all walks of life. They're somewhere holding each other, holding each other. Some were praying. Some were taking pictures. Wow, something so painful united all of us right there at that moment. From that spot. From that spot, you know, and I think that, you know, that's his charge to us all is to do our part, try to make it better. Well, I couldn't, I couldn't. I could love this more. I mean, I love this so much. Yeah, I don't want to change the subject because this is awesome. But I also I want to give you guys the opportunity because you have a new record coming out. So when's that when's it coming out and all that? Well, the record is called a healing time. Of course it is. Yeah. Yeah. That's why you want to cover everybody in gravy and then eat it up. You're baptizing me in gravy. I'm not an atheist anymore. I'll be honest with you. I'm in. No, baptizing in gravy. I didn't know that was part of the deal. Yeah, that's it. You got to have the gravy on you. That's it. That's how it happened. So we have that thing going out here in town as well. And the album itself comes out August the 10th. And we're really we work with Buddy Miller. I just wondered what out of that. I mean, well, we in Detroit, we did a concert called the concert of colors with the legendary Don was from was not was band and produced Rolling Stones. Well, Don became very fond of us. And Don then made a phone call to Buddy Miller without us even knowing and told Belly about us. And Buddy is the kind of guy you tell Buddy something that he's going to research it. Let me check it out. He got on YouTube and he's so funny because he calls us and we become friends, Buddy and Tonya and I. And on his birthday, he gives us a phone call. He's like, guess what I'm doing? And we're like, oh, what's that? He was like, I'm just sitting here with Emmy Lou Harris and we're watching you guys on YouTube. You know, she is Emmy Lou. I'm like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, he took us in and produced our record with some of the greatest musicians in Americana. And then Emmy Lou Harris comes over to the house and brings his homemade brownies and then sings on our record. You can't write that stuff, man. Emmy Lou Harris is making me brownies. Get out. I'm not at all surprised because I'm sure she felt exactly what we felt, right? I mean, we felt a lot. And I will say this about those two. Buddy, he took me in particularly under his wing as a producer and he told me and Tonya a secret to his success. And I took it. We both did. We took it to heart. He said, Michael and Tonya, if you want to know what I'm about, it's one word collaboration. He said, that's how you live forever. And we hugged and we watched Buddy collaborate with many folk. And then Emmy Lou Harris, this legend, this giant, she comes over to the house and she says Buddy and Julie, his wife, she tells me and Tonya, she said, these two are my church. They're my pastors. She says, I get my guidance from them. It just shows you what kind of relationship they are. What kind of people, person, you know, Buddy and Julie are. And Emmy, just beautiful people. You just want to be outside of their talent. You want to align your humanity up with theirs. You know, and become a better human being. And that's... Yeah, but at any point when you started all this, did you ever think you would say the words, Emmy Lou Harris came over to the house the other day? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. No, it made you mad. Oh yeah. Well, it started at AmericanaFest. Buddy got sick and the Americana Association and our management worked it out to where we would take Buddy's spot during the AmericanaFest. And then we got a phone call maybe an hour before our set that we would get placed in the middle of the Lumineers and drive-by truckers. So it was... No pressure. Yeah, good spot. And then they said, and then the person that someone wants to bring us out and introduce us to Americana crowd. And it was Emmy Lou Harris. Oh, wow. Wow. And she was standing there and she walks right in between us and she puts her arms around us and she goes, you ready? And she just rubs us and says, let's do this. And we burst into tears right there. I feel like a mother hen just saying, it's time. Go big. Go you. That's awesome. Well, what you put on stage and what you give as human beings out to other human beings is infectious. It makes me want to be a better person. You guys are, you know, I mean, I couldn't, I couldn't. You're the Johnny and June of our generation. So yeah, I love you. I couldn't love you more. This, this was a real, real moment in Bonnaroo history. So congratulations guys. Thank you all for taking the time to even talk to us. We'll never talk to you again. You understand that? That's how big you guys are going to be when never talking to you. No, no, no, no, no, no. Remember we got gravy to drink. My dude. My dude. Hey, hey, hey, hey. How y'all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bonnaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year? That matter? With Brad Steiner and Barry Courter.