Release Date: Jun 16, 2017
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Over the course of their career, Royal Trux has taken the standard rock band narrative and turned it into their own twisted version. From their earliest days as a duo backed by a cranky tape machine, through their weird experimental phase, onwards onto their sellout years with Virgin, and their return to their more independent roots they've always managed to sound entirely as they've wanted. They've taken elements of ’60s rock and blues, ’70s metal, ’80s goth, and ’90s grunge, and turned these elements into something that is undeniably entirely their own.
These days, it can be easy for the thousands of semi-similar, underfed, and often overhyped indie bands to blend in your head. After all, how many beach goth bands with an animal name does it take to throw reverb on a Fender while screwing in a lightbulb? I dunno, man, but there will only ever be one Royal Trux. All these years later, they remain one of the most important American rock bands of all time.
When long-dormant bands reunite, there's a natural fear that they'll be unable to recapture the essence of what they once were. But with Royal Trux, that's not a worry, because that essence was in a perpetual state of flux. In the subterranean sandbox that was '90s indie rock, Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema were like those weirdo kids who could flip their eyelids inside out--without warning, they could transform something benign into something grotesque.
According to rock'n'roll rumour, prior to walking onstage for their 2015 reunion concert, Royal Trux members Neil Haggerty and Jennifer Herrema hadn't been in the same room together for 13 years. As Tony Wilson puts it in Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People, "I agree with John Ford: when you have to choose between the truth and the legend, print the legend." Obeying Steve Coogan's portrayal of Wilson when misquoting Ford, Platinum Tips's press release proudly asserts that the performances captured on this live recording were "unrehearsed". Using my investigative journalism skills otherwise known as Googling, it was possible to unearth a Time Out interview in which Herrema confesses that Royal Trux did actually rehearse beforehand.
There was a time when Royal Trux were the coolest band in the world, untouchable in their impeccable downtown snarls and squeals, a beautifully shambolic wall of noise and natty threads, somewhere between the Rolling Stones and a garbage truck engulfed in flames. The band dried up and blew away around the dawn of this dreadful new century, but Trux prime movers Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema grew out their bangs, duck taped their jeans and got the band back together a couple of years back. This live album is the first fruit of their labours.
After reforming for the filthy lucre of the Berserktown II Festival in Jennifer Herrema's latest hometown of Los Angeles in 2015, this is the first new material by her and Neil Hagerty's Royal Trux for 17 years. Rather than busting out a fanfare, Jennifer would probably be more likely to blast from an FX pedal-assisted flute. Platinum Tips + Ice Cream is a career spanning collection of tunes, subtitled "live" and recorded unrehearsed in real time to a few thousand people last year in New York and LA.