To hear Jennifer Herrema tell it, we should be flattered. "We've had a ton of other shows offered, and Neil's always like, 'No, no, no, no, no way,'" she said recalling the rejections of Neil Hagerty, the yin to Herrema's yang and other half of the notorious, art-damaged noise-boogie outfit Royal Trux, which released 10 studio albums between 1988 and 2000, largely on Drag City. "But then this one in Columbus popped up and I was like, 'Columbus! Yes! Great town! We gotta do Columbus.'"
To hear Jennifer Herrema tell it, we should be flattered.
"We've had a ton of other shows offered, and Neil's always like, 'No, no, no, no, no way,'" she said recalling the rejections of Neil Hagerty, the yin to Herrema's yang and other half of the notorious, art-damaged noise-boogie outfit Royal Trux, which released 10 studio albums between 1988 and 2000, largely on Drag City. "But then this one in Columbus popped up and I was like, 'Columbus! Yes! Great town! We gotta do Columbus.'"
After a bit of schedule maneuvering, Hagerty was in. The appearance, which takes place during Helter Swelter in the parking lot of Ace of Cups on Saturday, Sept. 24, is only Royal Trux's third reunion show, following much-hyped dates in Los Angeles and New York.
In a time when nostalgia is so carefully managed and rock comebacks (replete with personal trainers and facelifts) are par for the course, Royal Trux serves as the anti-reunion antidote, an opportunity seemingly solely driven by a chance to make art in the moment once again.
"Nobody knows what it's going to sound like this time," Herrema said, confessing the lineup for this date (which will feature Oneida drummer Kid Millions) will have never played nor rehearsed together before they hit the stage.
Some might call that a bit haphazard, but in the world of Royal Trux, such fleeting intensity and potential provocation is perfectly fitting. The group's '90s output was borne out of an embrace of the random, blissfully mining the ground between free-noise experimentation and '70s rock choogle, with a rotating cast of side characters. (Little-known fact: Columbus' live karaoke piano man Parker Paul was a member of Royal Trux for a hot minute while in Virginia.) Royal Trux was an ongoing Fluxus art project that held the likes of Black Oak Arkansas, Can, the Rolling Stones, Albert Ayler, glam and '70s NBA style in equal trashy reverence.
Inseparable indie-rock glimmer twins Herrema and Hagerty burned hot for most of the '90s, playing the role of the alternative star couple, until - oh, the irony - they themselves were lured into the middle of the alt-rock boom, signing to Virgin Records for seven figures. To be sure, it was the duo's image that often superseded the music. With fur coats, aviator glasses and rail-thin frames, a pharmaceutical, haute couture vibe amplified their status as heroin-chic poster children (Herrema was even a model for a Calvin Klein ad campaign). Bell bottoms aside, the band's mid-decade trilogy of albums - Cats and Dogs (1993), Thank You (1995) and Sweet Sixteen (1997) - still hold up amazingly well, documents of an inimitable brand of chaotic, narcotic sing-talk that made few apologies.
But the flame eventually burned out, and the duo parted ways in the early 2000s, both professionally and personally. Herrema lives in the Costa Mesa, California area now, and Hagerty is based in Denver. Each continues to make music (Hagerty with the Howling Hex, Herrema with Black Bananas), but it wasn't until last year that the seeds of playing as Royal Trux again were planted by Hagerty, according to Herrema.
"He was playing out here and called and said, 'We need to talk,'" she said. "Our agents got together and worked it out, and - bam! - it's done. The venue was like eight blocks from my house, so it's crazy how it all worked out."
That first reunion - a show many thought would never happen - took place during the 2015 Berserktown Festival in Los Angeles and received glowing reviews for its intensity.
"It's like one day, I woke up and [Neil] wasn't mad at me anymore," Herrema recalled with a laugh. "I always knew it would happen. It just takes people time to come around."