Thomas Truax releases new album and performs in the City
One of the most imaginative characters on the pop music fringe, for well over a decade Thomas has been releasing albums and traveling the world performing with his “band” of bizarre self-made Harry Partch-esque instruments including a motorized drum machine made of bike wheels called ‘Mother Superior’ and a pimped-up Dr. Seuss-ian Gramophone called ‘The Hornicator’ (as well as his venerable resonator guitar ‘Hank’). He performs in Leeds at the Brudenell Social Club!
Such frivolous names make it tempting to dismiss his act as novelty, but the instruments are only one of many elements that get thrown in the skillet to make up the exciting journey and rich varied tapestry that is a Thomas Truax album.
On Jetstream Sunset, he has added a powerhouse of a special ingredient in the form of Brian Viglione, the exceptional drummer best know as half of the Dresden Dolls, his work with Nine Inch Nails, and as the current drummer of the Violent Femmes.
While musically lively, themes of reflection and reminiscence, friendship and loneliness permeate the album lyrically.
As a “bored American” ‘Teenage Post-Punk’ (“there were no easy labels back then”) Thomas found solace in a diet of British bands and seems nostalgic for a time when phones were still connected by wires. At other points he references nostalgic subjects more likely from his parent’s era: Drive-In-Movies, Rosa Parks, 70’s TV show ‘Kung-Fu’ (“Grandfather says to Grasshopper…”)
‘Jetstream’ is a more mature, candid and somewhat less lyrically obtuse album than we’ve seen from past Truax. Still, we get the surrealism, humor and anthropomorphism we’ve come to expect from him in the form of a jealous spider, or a car named Winston.
Brian Viglione and Thomas originally met at an early Dresden Dolls gig in New York City. Thomas supported the Dolls on their 2006 European tour, and the two became friends. Brian was always intrigued by Thomas’s mechanical drum machines, so he jumped at the chance when Thomas invited him to record along with them on some new material-in-the-works.
Thomas: “Brian stayed where I live sometimes, in a dilapidated old house/recording studio in Krefeld, Germany, called the Mansion Jansen. We spent a couple days just recording like madmen. Some of what I presented him with were near-finished songs, others were just fragments, sketches, loops. With Mother Superior and Brian, it was like they’d been married for years. Sometimes I just hit record, set her rolling, fired up the Hornicator, and we jammed. What became ‘Phantom Vibrations’ and the second half of ‘Feelin’ Bad For Dracula’ were born in the room like that, with all these low frequencies in the bass drum and the Hornicator bouncing off the walls and doubling up on each other. The sessions were really fruitful in the Happy Accidents department.”
Over a period of two years, Thomas chose favorites, embellished, refined and developed these and additional tracks that would eventually become ‘Jetstream’. The project was interrupted midway by his invitation to create a new score for -and perform live in- an award winning version of the play Peer Gynt at the prestigious Theater Dortmund in Germany. Both play and the resulting soundtrack album ‘Trolls, Girls and Lullabies’ received very high praise.
Notable Truax supporters include Jarvis Cocker, Duke Special, Amanda Palmer, all of whom with Thomas has toured and collaborated.
The author Terry Pratchett was a huge fan, and a meeting with director David Lynch resulted in the highly rated 2009 covers album, Songs From The Films Of David Lynch. Other full-length releases include 2010′s Sonic Dreamer and Monthly Journal (2012), written and released in 12 intervals over 12 months.
‘Jetstream Sunset’ will be available on CD and limited edition 12′′ coloured Vinyl.
He will perform in Leeds on Wednesday 6th May at Brudenell Social Club.
“When he performs, it is a spectacle – the originality and seeming impossibility of what he does is much of the appeal.” – The Guardian