When Royal Trux imploded in 2001, the indie world wept for the unruly beauty it had lost. But now the experimental indie rockers are back and, according to them, it’s no big deal.
“It just kind of happened,” Royal Trux singer/songwriter Jennifer Herrema tells BTRtoday over the phone. “Out of nowhere, like three years ago, he [bandmate Neil Hagerty] just hit me up and was like, ‘we got this offer and I’m interested in it,’ and I was like ‘okay, cool.’”
The reunion’s a surprise, but the casual decision to reunite is 100 percent what you’d expect from Royal Trux. Herrema and her fellow Royal Trux lifer Neil Hagerty are unpredictable and real down to their bones. Getting together as nonchalantly as wearing an old jacket sounds like the chaotic forces of nature we’ve always known them to be.
When the band hit the skids along with Herrema and Hagerty’s relationship, the two put considerable physical distance between each other, with Hagerty heading South and Herrema escaping to the West Coast.
Royal Trux, “White Stuff”
While apart, each pursued music. Herrema rocked hard with RTX and explored electronic sounds with Black Bananas while Hagerty followed his idiosyncratic muse with Howling Hex. Despite the distance and separate groups, Hagerty and Herrema never lost their musical bond.
They’ve reunited for White Stuff, which they plan to release March 1 via Fat Possum Records followed by a North American spring tour. Or, more accurately, it’s a winter tour that’s happening late. They wanted to kick off the tour in February, but the courts had other plans.
Herrema’s lingering legal troubles forced them to keep their gear packed up. Herrema has admitted to serving community service for previous convictions, but was cagey about the arrest that postponed the tour. On the Royal Trux Facebook page Herrema wrote, “I’m really sorry, but stupid shit happens and can’t be helped.” Her PR team said she isn’t facing jail time and she said in an email that “shit could’ve definitely been worse.”
Outlaw life isn’t new for the band. Hagerty and Herrema have never hid that they make a habit of living on the edge. They both became hooked to heroin shortly after Royal Trux’s formation. Unlike other heroin-abusing musicians, Hagerty and Herrema used it openly. They kicked their addictions before splitting up. While Herrema relapsed right after the band ended, she’s been in a good space ever since.
“When we first started there was no money to be made [and] we never really had some kind of end game,” Herrema tells BTRtoday. “We were just rolling around doing whatever and it all just seemed to work out.”
The new album White Stuff, Herrema says, is very much a Royal Trux album. She says they’re still the same pioneering experimental metal/indie rock, but they bypassed all the issues that come with being romantically involved while making music.
“The [new album is the] same in that I’m bringing my sensibilities and he’s bringing his and we butt heads and eventually find our own places and work it out,” she says. “But it’s not a lot of digging into the minutia of every single decision as it had been in the past when we lived together.”
The title track’s an epic thrasher bursting with fuzz and fingerpicking. The shredding guitars underlying raspy chants about “white stuff” is like doom metal with a classic rock melody. And right when you think it’s over, the music cuts out and pulls you back with a jolt of chaos to keep you on your feet.
Hear the entire interview with Herrema of Royal Trux on this week’s The Music Meetup along with three brand new songs.