Royal Trux, "Get Used to This (feat. Kool Keith)" (Fat Possum)
Royal Trux's main creators Jennifer Herrema and Neil Michael Hagerty were as adept at shattering rock traditions as they were at respecting its most successful moves. They issued records that ranged from out-weirding Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica to homaging 1968-1972 Rolling Stones, while coaxing a seven-figure advance from Virgin Records. They also covered songs by Godz, Milton Nascimento, Jefferson Airplane, and Dire Straits. Yes, Royal Trux had quite a run, and more than a few people consider them the greatest American rock band of the '90s.
Following Trux's split in 2001, Herrema and Hagerty embarked on sporadically brilliant solo careers, started various bands (RTX and Black Bananas for Jennifer; Weird War, the Howling Hex, and Dan'l Boone for Neil), collaborated judiciously with other underground-music luminaries, and the overall impression was that neither would ever have the desire to resurrect Royal Trux. Wrong! Over-achieving ex-junkies H&H are back, with a new label (Fat Possum), likely a new album, and a North American tour booked for 2019, including a stop at the Showbox on February 27 (if there is a February 27).
In a press release, Herrema discussed the unlikely reunion. "It's funny how the outside world perceives or feels compelled to parse complicated relationships and dynamics... Usually it's an all or nothing game. This next chapter is just another perfectly aligned bit of kismet. No concerted effort to force anything forward or to create something with an eye on the past. Only an awareness that the present had come calling with a gift to assist the future future of Royal Trux. The true believers that were once strangers found their way into our universe because everybody was ready for it and it simply, as if on cosmic cue, came to be."
One of two new songs Trux have nudged into the world after their long hiatus, "Get Used to This" represents a departure for the group—the addition of a rapper. It makes total sense that of all the world's MCs, H&H would tap former Ultramagnetic MCs/Dr. Octagon icon Kool Keith, perhaps the foremost renegade of golden age hiphop and its most enduring cracked genius.
It would be hyperbole to claim that "Get Used to This" reaches Royal Trux's past peaks, but it's an oddly wonderful surprise. Over a solid but unspectacular funk breakbeat, Herrema and Keith snarl and rap over each other (the latter spits about "never descending" and "champion pizza") while Hagerty pits gnarly, doom-encrusted chords against melismatic guitar wails (think Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane"). The main takeaway? We need a sequel to Judgment Night, so we can have another rock/rap soundtrack as fresh as the original.
Royal Trux tour dates
Feb 13 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
Feb 15 - New York, NY - Terminal 5
Feb 16 - Boston, MA - The Sinclair
Feb 19 - Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
Feb 20 - Detroit, MI - El Club
Feb 22 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
Feb 23 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
Feb 26 - Vancouver, BC - Rickshaw
Feb 27 - Seattle, WA - Showbox
Mar 02 - San Francisco, CA - August Hall
Mar 08 - Los Angeles, CA - Teragram Ballroom