One of the most imaginative characters on the pop music fringe, for well over a decade Thomas Truax has announced a run of UK tour dates, including a performance at Manchester’s Gullivers on 9th Apri. The artist 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’).
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 his eighth studio solo album, 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.
As a “bored American” ‘Teenage Post-Punk’ (“there were no easy labels back then”) Truax, who has founde supporters in the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Duke Special and David Lynch found solace in British bands and his music yearns for times when phones were still connected by wires, when drive-in-movies were the main kind, and 70s TV show Kung-Fu was all the rage. Alongside this run themes of reflection and reminiscence, friendship and loneliness.
Viglione and Truax originally met at an early Dresden Dolls gig in New York City. Truax then supported the Dolls on their 2006 European tour, and the two became friends, with Viglione intrigued by Truax’s mechanical drum machines, so he jumped at the chance record along with them on some new material-in-the-works.
Truax commented: “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, Truax 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.
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