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Royal Trux, 1999
|Origin||Washington, D.C., USA|
|Genres||Alternative rock, noise rock|
|Labels||Drag City, Virgin, Domino, P-Vine|
|Associated acts||Pussy Galore, RTX, The Howling Hex, Jon Theodore, David Pajo, Alex Minoff, Weird War, David Berman, Silver Jews|
|Past members||Neil Michael Hagerty
While still a teenager, Hagerty joined Washington DC garage punk band Pussy Galore, led by Jon Spencer, and subsequently relocated to New York. During his time in Pussy Galore, Hagerty convinced his bandmates to release a cassette-only remake of the entire Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street. While he gained underground notoriety for his work with Pussy Galore, Hagerty reportedly viewed it as a job and intended to pursue his own artistic vision with his girlfriend, Jennifer Herrema, under the name Royal Trux.
Hagerty and Herrema released their first album, Royal Trux, in 1988. Then, after moving to San Francisco, Royal Trux released the experimental double-album Twin Infinitives. In fanzine interviews, the band was open about their heroin usage.
After Twin Infinitives, Royal Trux released an untitled album (sometimes referred to as the Skulls record because of its sleeve artwork). Forgoing the experimentalism of Twin Infinitives, the band instead opted for a more lo-fi approach, recording on an 8-track. The arguably atypical lyricism and sonic atonality of their first album was largely abandoned in favor of a more stripped, direct sound.
Following the release of their untitled album, Hagerty and Herrema hired a guitarist and drummer in order to complete their fourth full-length, Cats and Dogs. The songwriting remained highly experimental, but was more melodic, which was revealed on tracks such as "The Flag," "The Spectre," and "Turn of the Century." Around this time, the band signed with Matador and a Royal Trux record was assigned a catalog number for an album which never appeared. Allegedly, the band was dropped from Matador after spending their whole advance on drugs.
During the corporate interest in underground music that followed Nirvana's breakthrough success in 1991, Royal Trux signed a three-record contract totaling over one million dollars with the major label Virgin. The label viewed it as a way to gain credibility with other, more promising indie bands that they hoped to attract. Some of the money went into buying a house in Virginia and converting it to a studio, where the band recorded themselves and others (such as The Make-Up). According to interviews, the band also kicked their drug habit at this time. The band added a considerably heavier rhythm section with Dan Brown on bass guitar and Chris Pyle (son of Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle) on drums. Pyle left after a brief period and was replaced by Ken Nasta, a prominent Jacksonville drummer, formerly with Mike Angelo & the Idols and many others. They also added a percussionist named Rob Armstrong for a short period. In 1995, they released Thank You, recorded almost completely live in the studio with producer David Briggs. Next came Sweet Sixteen. While the band received mainstream media exposure during their time on Virgin (Herrema appeared in Calvin Klein print and TV ads from 1995–2000), Virgin was reportedly unhappy with Sweet Sixteen. The band was unwilling to record a third record for the label, but was persuaded when Virgin offered to pay for all costs. Royal Trux returned to their old label Drag City.
On Drag City, the band released Accelerator. They followed this album with Veterans of Disorder in 1999, and Pound for Pound in 2000.
Royal Trux also released the triple-LP Singles, Live, Unreleased, as well as a pair of EPs and substantial video and webwork.
Hagerty and Herrema were often credited as Adam and Eve for their production work. They separated as a couple and dissolved the band following the release of Pound for Pound. Since then, both have recorded albums for Drag City; Hagerty under his own name and as The Howling Hex, and Herrema under the name RTX.
- Royal Trux (Royal, 1988)
- Twin Infinitives (Drag City, 1990)
- Untitled (Drag City/Domino, 1992)
- Cats and Dogs (Drag City/Domino, 1993)
- Thank You (Virgin/Hut Recordings/Charisma, 1995)
- Sweet Sixteen (Virgin/Hut, 1997)
- Singles, Live, Unreleased (Compilation) (Drag City/Domino, 1997)
- 3-Song EP (Drag City/Domino, 1998)
- Accelerator (Drag City/Domino, 1998)
- Veterans of Disorder (Drag City/Domino, 1999)
- Radio Video (EP) (Drag City/Domino, 2000)
- Pound for Pound (Drag City/Domino, 2000)
- Hand of Glory (Drag City/Domino, 2002)
- Nylvi. "Royal Trux Vinyl Reissues" January 4, 2009
- Beating Hearts : Yahoo discussion group
- Jennifer Herrema, Happy Shopper, outsideleft.com
- Jennifer Herrema interview for BEAT Magazine