Drag City

Royal Trux

Singles, Live, and Unreleased

“Are you being sarcastic dude?

“I don’t even know anymore.” Two Teenagers – The Simpsons -“Homerpalooza”

Growing up in a Christian household didn’t leave too many avenues for enlightenment in the church of rock and roll, but as these things usually happen; one day the door opens and you step through to never turn back. I devoured anything I could get my hands on, even subscribing to Columbia House (I was even a member of the VHS club too if you can believe it) to help show me the light. One day my Mom came down to the basement because she heard a commotion as I was lost in some sort of musical bliss. Now I can’t remember what I was listening to, but what I do remember was the look on my Mom’s face. She had this shocked, incredulous, irritated look as she said “What in God’s name is that racket?” That, I believe, is what most people may say when listening to Royal Trux for the first time.

Now that’s not to say that it’s all bad racket. I love me some Sonic Youth and Pavement any day, but even they have their moments when you can’t reach for the skip button fast enough. That’s the nature of the game when it comes to this sort of off-kilter noise rock, where the rules are to try to break all rules of music, or at least what’s been established in the standard rock and roll genre. I would say what separated Royal Trux from the rest were that they were the true vanguards of underground. Nothing they ever did was going to mainstream, even if what they were doing was possibly being associated with that Lollapalooza movement (They did play in ’93 on the second stage). Who knows what could have transpired in the timeline of the band that may have altered their course to a bigger fame than they achieved. Through that association of being part of that Chicago scene they were signed to Virgin records, but probably much to their chagrin, everything Royal Trux did was probably in the opposite direction to the notoriety the label may have wanted.

So you could say that they never “sold out”.. Remember when that term was bandied around with bands in the 90’s, as if it was a badge of honour if you didn’t give in? Without going too in depth into the subject, I believe Royal Trux are a good example of what a band can become by not giving in to big label pressure, making MTV videos, and touring the world selling T-Shirts. The result on this compilation record of various oddities from the Royal Trux discography however is a mish mash product. On an 32 track album there’s probably 10 really cool tracks, 10 that are just okay, 10 that are downright unlistenable, and a couple that are just so weird that they’re intriguing. Their cover of the M*A*S*H theme song could even be their unofficial theme song for the Lollapalooza Generation: “Suicide is Painless.” You could say that this album is for die hard fans only, but I found it to be a intriguing window into this band, as long as you can stomach the bad to get to the good.

Michael Unger

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