Sometimes I still think it’s a fever dream. My Royal Trux, the crab apple of my youth, the metallic taste in the back of my throat, the burning sensation, the dancing on the table that I never saw, the cracked elbow, the late night drinking sessions and swimming in the warm sea under the moon, my toxic shock and my broken heart… my Royal Trux are somehow getting back together.
I’ve written a lot of crap abou’t Royal Trux in my time. Probably because I’ve always thought of myself as the worst sort of fan: unduly taken with a band I consider to be vastly underesteemed in the Scheme of Things (and seriously, who cares about that?), yet uninterested in learning the key trivia needed to be a proper gig bore. I’m not a musician and while I can obviously grasp the relevance of production techniques, different guitars, pedals, recorded live, etc, I’m a long way away from caring which guitar Neil Hagerty used on the solo for Stevie (For Steven S.). I can’t even remember what year the albums were released. That said, in contact with some friends who have developed an independent love of the Trux (independent from my nagging, I mean), I’ve realised that Yes, I can stand tall. I know enough of the canon to hold my own.
Several people contacted me a week or two back when Drag City Inc. dropped the news that Royal Trux will be reuniting for a one-off gig at a psych fest in Los Angeles this August. Our good buddy C in that great city got there first with a Facebook post. “I’m going to need you guys to come out for this”, she insisted. But it won’t happen. We’re on vacation (cottage already booked). I can’t afford to go to LA for one (vitally important) concert. Actually, I could if I dipped into my savings but those are for… well, I don’t know but certainly not this. The bottom line is, I have to just hope that this one-off gig turns into something more. That I get a chance to see them play live, something I could never do when in their first incarnation. Drag City seems to think (hope?) so.
I’ll content myself with the knowledge that the impossible has been made possible (and what, apart from an adult attitude and bags of money could achieve that?).
So, “what is Royal Trux”?
Royal Trux is an American rock band consisting of former couple Neil Hagerty on guitar and vocals and Jennifer Herrema on vocals too. The best way I can describe their music is that it’s a blend of Exile-era Rolling Stones rock’n’roll & boogie woogie, free jazz-style harmolodics, Captain Beefheart’s swagger mixed with a large amount of heroin and 1990s irony. It’s great music, though sometimes inscrutible. Their attitude and aesthetic continue to influence bands today and yet relatively few fans have heard of them. I’m told that they’re more popular in Europe than the States and are (perhaps worryingly) loved by other rock bands and plenty of music journalists. Maybe because a lot of their stuff is music about music, comments on the scene? Primal Scream called them “the last true rock’n’roll band”. Lauren Laverne says they’re her favorites. Hagerty’s London gig drew Hot Chip, Spiritualized and (I’m pretty sure) Warren Ellis. Scaruffi rates them. They’ve got a song dedicated to Steven Seagal (featuring an absurd and absurdly good guitar solo), songs about junkie nurses, weed-growing operations, high school and police busts. One of their albums, Twin Infinitives, is ‘famously’ difficult to listen to and often mentioned in the same breath as Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music (it’s actually excellent, as you’d expect me to say). They once signed to Virgin and then got paid out an album early. It can take a while to get into them, I guess. But once they’re in your blood, in your brain, you never get them out.
Why, Lord, am I not going to LA?
Bootleg: Dante’s Vendetta