JENNIFER HERREMA OF ROYAL TRUX: LIFE FORMED MY BRAIN
illustration by jay torres
Royal Trux were and are a dimension to themselves—they had their own gravity, their own laws of physics and their own extra-terrestial kind of white light / white heat even on their first self-titled album for Drag City in 1988. Thirty-plus years later, this spring’s unexpected reunion album White Stuff (Fat Possum) still has all the right stuff, designed by masterminds who could and can plug right into the heart of 40-50-60 years of rulebreaking rock ‘n ‘ roll ‘n’ more. Their Quantum Entanglement is out on Record Store day on Fri., Nov. 29, via Fat Possum. Co-founder Neil Hagerty was unavailable for this interview but Zig Zags’ Jed Maheu got Trux co-founder and frequent L.A. RECORD alum Jennifer Herrema to dig up some good stuff.
I’ve never even done this. I think all the other writers were scared to talk to you and Neil, so they asked me.
Jennifer Herrema: [sighs] Well, Neil doesn’t speak to humans, so. It’s his problem.
We’re gonna start at the now and then go back to the beginning. So what was it like? What was the process for recording this new album?
Jennifer Herrema: All the songs were completely written before we went into the studio. We had started playing again together [Neil and I] towards the end of 2015, so it’s been like three years. Was that the Berzerktown show? That was the first reunion show, right? That was the first one, and then after that the second one was in New York at Webster Hall, and then we released an album of those super raw live show sets because we recorded ‘em for posterity not knowing we would ever perhaps ever do it again, you know? So we were like, ‘We gotta record it just in case!’ So that was that. But then we toured Europe and did a lot of the European festivals like a year, year and a half ago. So we were together, and we would talk about different topics, ideas for songs and stuff, and then basically we did it … We weren’t really thinking we were necessarily going to make a new record. It was just like as time went on, the more and more we figured, ‘Shit, you know, we can easily write a new record.’ But we weren’t really interested in doing it under the same conditions as I’ve been doing with like Black Bananas and stuff, you know? No distribution, no just kind of putting it out there. So we were just like, ‘We’ll probably just not do it,’ because we’re not allowed to have a manager or anything at Drag City—you’re not allowed to have anybody work for you at Drag City. So how do you get somebody interested in wanting to put out your record when there’s nobody to reach out to anybody? [laughs] So it really all came together, like, fortuitously. Literally, we met a stranger, like a complete stranger. I guess I had met this guy once, I don’t know, over a decade ago, but he reached out to me on social media, and his question was, ‘Can I ask you a question? I’m a huge fan. Why is Royal Trux not streaming?’ And you know, I was like ‘LOL. It’s a long story.’ Whatever. So the dude’s like, ‘OK, I need to talk to you…’ He drove down from Calabasas the next day down to the beach and schooled my ass. Totally schooled me. I was like, ‘Oh my God. Like, people license catalogs directly to streaming companies and stuff.’ He’s like, ‘You guys own all your own stuff, like … what the fuck? You can get a great advance if you wanna license it.’ I never knew anything about it. So he just kinda went to town. We had deals comin’ out of our ass, actually. Most of ‘em were no-gos because they were perpetuity, but Fat Possum really wanted a new record, so we were like, ‘OK, we’re going with these people because they are really stoked to have a new record, and we already know that we’ve got one in our brains…’ So that was that for Fat Possum, and then the Orchard distribution and digital distribution deals and the neat publishing deals … all of this came about by a stranger reaching out. I would not have known any of this stuff was available to us. And I guess that’s my own fault, but I don’t fuckin’ … know this fuckin’ industry. I don’t even care about it. I just know that I own a lot of…
Right. You’ve written a lot of songs.
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah, I’ve written a lot of songs. [laughs] I’m like, ‘Can I actually make some money from these? Is this possible?’ Like, yeah, it’s totally possible.
Was this guy like a music industry guy? Or was he just like a random guy?
Jennifer Herrema: He was a guy who was like, a huge music guy. Not like, super industry. His wife makes films and stuff, but he owned a huge record store in San Diego and ran it when he was a teenager, evidently, and then I think he bought it later in life. Yeah, not like, super industry but he was definitely connected. He’s a huge fan of music, and he’s just connected. Literally we had Skype meetings with every motherfuckin’ publisher set up within a month, you know? Like, everything. He’s just good at making connections, obviously. [laughs] So we got this offer to make the new album, which we didn’t have any expectation that that would come about, and we didn’t even ask—it just happened. So we were like, ‘OK, great,’ and Neil and I just started writing back and forth. I think he was using Cubase or Logic, and I was using Pro Tools and Ableton, and we were just like … I mean, I can write music stuff, but my playing sucks like shit, you know? So I just kind of fake it, you know?
Do you play guitar when you write a song? Or what do you do?
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah, but it’s a digital guitar so I can assign it any instrument I want. We were just writing back and forth, back and forth, and then the last show we played was a year ago, actually. It was about a year and a month ago. That’s when we went with Fat Possum, and we were hanging out with them when we played two nights in Bushwick in New York. And then there’s February and March; by the end of March, all the songs are written back and forth, and everybody—like Neil and the label people—they all flew out here and we were just kind of playing them, you know, just some of the preliminary shit that Neil and I had gone back and forth on. Then everybody went home, and I was talking to Neil, and he was like, ‘Let’s just do it. Let’s just get it done.’ Because there was all sorts of grand ideas cuz we had a good budget. So we could’ve gone all crazy fancy. He’s just like, ‘Let’s get it done. Let’s get it done.’ I said, ‘OK, I’m just gonna open up the fuckin’ Yellow Pages here…’ [laughs] He likes our studio, but it’s too much of Black Bananas, RTX …
It’s too much of your vibe.
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah, so he was like, ‘We need a neutral zone, neutral zone’ and that’s how I ended up at that Burbank studio. And then we got this engineer that Neil and I had worked with in Philly, like, you know, 20 years prior. And yeah, he recorded it and … da da da da da. We were in and out in 12 days. So that was that. [laughs] Like we walked in and all the songs were ready.
I don’t know if I’m gonna interview Neil or not.
Jennifer Herrema: I mean, it would be great but I gotta tell you, the guy … I mean, he’s certifiable. Seriously. You can print that shit. He’ll have your head a-spinnin’. You’ll be like … ’So, this new album…’ and he’ll be like, ‘What album? I don’t have a new album.’ [laughs]
Right, one of those. Yeah, that would drive me fuckin’ crazy.
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah.
Do you feel like making this record was an enjoyable experience?
Jennifer Herrema: No, it was horrible. Horrible. It was horrible. [laughs] You know, I’m dealing with Neil … our relationship is totally … you know, volatile. It was just all very not musical. For me, it was just like, ‘Fuck it. Hit it and quit it.’ And then we mixed it outside. But … in the end it worked out. The thing is, sometimes you have to go through that shit. It’s never smooth, but it’s never been, like, total weirdness before. But at the end of the day, the whole situation was weirdness, so weirdness ensued, but we got what we needed. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. You have to go through it. The process, like you were saying. Sometimes it’s not enjoyable.
How do you feel about labels trying to like, brand the band or have a say in artwork or singles or songs? I’ve never really had to deal with that in a real way, but when you were with Virgin did you have guys telling you like, ‘No, this is not a single…’?
Jennifer Herrema: No, actually. We’ve never had that. At all. It’s kind of interesting. I’m not gonna complain that we had complete creative control cuz that’s not really a complaint. We’ve never really had anybody say, ‘You can’t do this, this isn’t a single, this isn’t art…’ I mean, Virgin, when we turned in Sweet Sixteen, they were like, ‘Well you can’t roller skate to this music. It’s no good for us.’ [laughs] But so it was like, ‘Well, but here it is, and you still have to handle it, so…’ I’ve always kind of been curious as to how somebody … that it’s not just about the preciousness of the art. It’s like, a fuckin’ salesman, like fuckin’ Glengarry Glen Ross. ‘Sell that shit! Sell that shit!’ Like just have some uninvolved non-precious personal … I mean, actually we did. We changed the name of this album. There was a couple of different album titles, but, you know, talking to different people, I realized that White Stuff was the title to go with because it’s just simple. It’s fuckin’ easy. Other stuff, you had to think about it, or you might not even understand, you know? So it was cool to have that kind of input, and, you know, as far as like, singles go, you know, when you make a record, we usually leave songs off cuz they’re not up to par. So once we’re done with the record, we like all of the songs. So it’s kinda like, ‘What are your people on the streets sayin’ you guys choose?’ I don’t fuckin’ know. But I wish there was somebody that did, you know?
I think about some of these great records that I love and I go back and see like, ‘Oh, this guy was the producer on this record, and then he worked on this record, too.’ Maybe that helps to have someone with like no fuckin’ skin in the game who’s just like, ‘I wanna make the best record possible, and I don’t have a personal connection to any of this.’
Jennifer Herrema: That can definitely be the role of a producer, but I’m talking like once it becomes merchandise. Like once it’s no longer art and it’s merchandise … like it’s gone through the test of the number one salesman. Basically it’s allowing external opinions in. I like the fact that we have been enabled to do as we please. But I mean, I also like running shit by people that I respect, and, you know, kind of getting so it’s not so insular. Cuz everything makes sense to me when they’re all my ideas. Of course. [laughs] So I kind of enjoy putting stuff out there. It’s like everybody is my springboard or my producer after the fact.
I wanted to start earlier. Where did you initially grow up?
Jennifer Herrema: Southeast Washington, DC. We were living with my grandparents in a basement when I was a little kid, and my dad was working for the senator of Connecticut on Capitol Hill. And he went to some auction, I think, one day like at lunch, and fucking bought a house at auction. I think he paid like $40,000 for it, which was a lot of money for my parents at that time and all that, but it was this huge, gorgeous house that was completely destroyed. But my dad was all about construction and stuff, so he just fuckin’ quit politics. He was like, ‘Yeah, I’m outta here, these people are trash people.’ Which is true. And so he started his own construction company that actually kept everything intact up to historical preservation standards. He was part of that whole thing where you can’t tear down like the gorgeous Baptist church just because there’s no Baptist congregation. You have to keep it. But you can repurpose it, you know? These types of things. That’s how I ended up there. But yeah, it was in the ghetto for sure. And it took him years. We lived in it while it was being rehabbed. But we were little, you know what I mean? We did notice that we were the only white kids, but we were little and it didn’t really register as anything that odd.
You have brothers and sisters?
Jennifer Herrema: One sister. She lives in Forestville, California, on the Russian River.
And was your dad or mom into music and art too?
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah, they were into music, but they weren’t into music and art to the degree that I was. It was entertainment, and they were interested in stuff, but it’s not like they’re gonna go out record hunting for something that’s not on the radio. [laughs] The records they did have … whether it be Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac … all that stuff was on the radio, and they had all those records. And then growing up, you start realizing, ‘Oh, there’s…’ Like when I was like, 10, I think it was a flyer I saw by the subway about punk rock shit, and I was like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ Then they started having all-ages punk rock matinees, and you could go if you were 12.
So you were aware of some of the Dischord stuff happening then?
Jennifer Herrema: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Early on. When I was 10 or 11 I knew that. Because I had to be bussed to school. It was basically reverse bussing. [laughs] When I would get out of school, it took hours to get home—walk all the way to the subway, at least a mile to the subway, take the subway for half an hour, then take a bus for another 20 minutes, and then walk another mile and a half home. So a lot of the times after school because I was in Northwest, up there, I would just fuckin’ like use my bus pass and go to Georgetown. Cuz that’s where all the record stores and all of the cool shit was going on. That was the strip. So I would kick around and waste time and meet people like from other schools and stuff, and that’s how I kind of figured it out. It’s weird because I think about it now … I had a neighbor a few years ago, and I was playing soccer with her daughter, and she was 12 and she wasn’t allowed to cross the street to go to Trader Joe’s on her own. I was like, ‘Jesus fuckin’ Christ!’ You know? [laughs] My parents were sending me to the other side of the murder capital alone at that point. It’s just kinda crazy how insulated … but I mean, it’s different times. I guess people are much more paranoid, and perhaps they have a reason to be. I don’t fuckin’ know.
It’s funny you say soccer—I had this weird premonition, and I didn’t write it down, but I wanted to ask you like, if you ever played sports before.
Jennifer Herrema: I was a total jock, yes.
I had a weird vision that you were a good athlete.
Jennifer Herrema: I guess it started with swim team and basketball, and I was always tall. Like, I grew really quickly, and so I was done growing completely by the time I was like 12 or 13. I was, you know, like, my full height. I always looked older. So that worked for basketball. And then swim team … but soccer was the one sport that I played the longest, because there was a team right there. It was on the other side of the Capitol Building, and so I could just walk to the field. And it was just like a league that played … you know, we would go out like 2 hours into Virginia and play private school kids, you know? And we were just some scrappy motherfuckers from southeast DC, but we were called the Rowdies. And we were pretty good, and we were around for a while. Then when I graduated high school I coached boys soccer. Don’t ask me how, but…
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah. I coached boys soccer.
I was gonna ask you this, too: in high school, did you feel like you fit in? Or did you feel weird in high school? Did you get along with other girls?
Jennifer Herrema: Well, high school … none of the sports I did at all were in school. School was a house, and there were 20 people in my graduating class. So there was no extracurricular anything. This was just kind of the southeast Capitol Hill league. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, I had a lot of friends, but most of my friends were boys. But I had a couple friends—a couple of really good friends that were girls. But there were so few people at the whole fuckin’ school, you know? [Laughs]
So you had to kind of make your own sort of reality, then?
Jennifer Herrema: Exactly. And like a double one, too, because I would be up at school and … the school was… you know, Northwest kids. I don’t know, this is what was told to me—kids that got kicked out of all the other schools go to the school that I went to. Most of the people lived up in northwest DC, like, uptown, and that wasn’t really my reality, either. That wasn’t my hood. It was different. I mean, Justin Theroux went to my school and Spike Jonze or Adam Spiegel went to my school, too. I didn’t know that. My sister had to tell me. ‘What? You don’t know that?!’ I’m like, ‘No.’ They were just fuckin’ little kids I guess. I guess they were bad kids that got kicked out of school for a minute.
My mom taught at like an alternative high school when I was a kid, and they let the kids name the high school because they wanted everyone to be really inclusive, and it’s really hard to motivate some of these kids, you know?’ And so they named it Pantera High School.
Jennifer Herrema: Oh, that’s amazing! That’s awesome. That’s so awesome.
[laughs] And then they got in trouble … I guess they found out that it was a band and they made them change it, and then they named it to River’s Edge High School.
Jennifer Herrema: Oh, that’s great, too! That was fuckin’ Seattle?
This is in Portland. [laughs]
Jennifer Herrema: Oh, Portland. Yeah. River’s Edge. Oh my God. Pacific Northwest is dark.
Pacific Northwest in the 80s, you know? Very serial killer-y. Portland was way different than it is now. Way dark, you know? Very dark.
Jennifer Herrema: I mean, last time I was in Portland, which wasn’t that long ago, it was dark as fuck. Our van got fuckin’ windows broken out … but then again, we don’t stay at the Ritz Carlton.
You stay at the Ritz Cracker.
Jennifer Herrema: At the Ritz Cracker, exactly. [laughs]
So you were coaching boys soccer—how did you go from there to New York and music?
Jennifer Herrema: When I was a little kid like in my grandparents’ basement, I was playing piano—I had like little piano lessons and stuff. I really liked it. I could read the sheet music—I mean, simple as it was—and I remember my first recital where I had to get up on a huge stage and play the piano in front of all these people. I totally went blank and just completely freestyled. I don’t know what the fuck I was playing. [laughs] I don’t know, and I remember saying, ‘I like to play piano, but I don’t ever want to do that again.’ [laughs] I guess it was also just because it was just me up there. But I liked piano, and I kept playing piano, but then when we moved we didn’t have a piano. I guess I was like, I don’t know, maybe 6th grade? I think it was 6th grade. I got an acoustic guitar for Christmas, and then this guy was like, teaching me, but I didn’t like anything he was playing, I didn’t like anything he was teaching me, and I was just like, ‘Fuck this shit,’ I just like wandered off from it. But I was always writing. Like writing, writing, writing, writing.
What kind of stuff were you listening to that you liked at that time? Were you seeing Minor Threat or…
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah, I mean, obviously. Bad Brains were super duper one of my favorite fucking bands, and I loved Void, too.
I used to live with Bubba in Seattle for a minute.
Jennifer Herrema: Royal Trux opened up for Green Day in Atlanta. I don’t know why that happened, it was just the two of us. There was no band. I don’t know what we were doing. And I’d been playing guitar with kind of a bunch of effects and stuff, and my guitar got stolen … anyway, there were three bands on the bill, and the first band is Earth Eighteen, and I’m looking at the guy, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, that’s fuckin’ Bubba, dude!’ And it was! But yeah, like Faith … Alec MacKaye and Chris Bald. I mean, Chris Bald and Mike Fellows … they were both in Royal Trux, from Faith and Rites of Spring and all that. Those were my homies. But that was way later. But we knew each other at the time. My favorite local bands. Like totally local bands. It was Void and Faith and Bad Brains. I mean, I’d go see any hardcore show. Any hardcore show for sure. There was no internet or cell phones or nothin’. I think that the fact that I was being shipped basically to a whole other side of the city, and then I would casually make my way home and then back every day, I learned a fuck ton. I would just go on H Street right by our subway in southeast DC, and that’s where I fuckin’ bought ‘Rapper’s Delight’ when I was in fuckin’ like … 4th grade or something? I walked in there and they were playing it, and I was like, ‘Holy shit!’ This was before they even had words called ‘rap’ and ‘hip-hop.’ It was just like, all Black music. Fuckin’ funk and disco and blues and this and that. I didn’t even know. I just walked in and they were playing ‘Rapper’s Delight,’ and that’s all I needed to know. I was like, ‘How much is that record?!’ I babysat all the time, and I would just go and buy records. And a lot of the times, you know, Olsson’s Records in Georgetown … John Stabb from Government Issue worked the door, and he was a sweetheart, but they didn’t have listening stations. Some of these imported 7’s, like the Damned or something … you can’t listen to it, you have to take a wild guess and buy it, you know?
Yeah, I remember even when I was a kid, I mail ordered some stuff from some punk distro, and they accidentally sent me the Nation of Ulysses album. All I was listening to at the time was like, Misfits, Dead Kennedys and like, Black Flag, and so then when I heard that Nation of Ulysses album I was just like, ‘What the fuck is this? There’s fuckin’ horns, like this sucks, I hate it.’ But I only had like 2 CDs at the time, so I just had to listen to it until I liked it.
Jennifer Herrema: That super happened to me. Never Mind the Bollocks … I remember I didn’t ask anybody. Pink is still my favorite color, and I thought, ‘That looks cool.’ I just bought it, and I was listening to it and I was just like, ‘This is crazy!’ But then like you said, I kept listening to it, and then I was like, ‘This is the best record ever!’ [laughs] ‘This is the best record ever!’ That kind of thing, where it’s not like you have choices. Like, the radio … I was always listening to the radio, but once I got into punk rock and stuff I was like realizing how much music [there was] that was like, interactive, to an extent, where you can go and see the people and shit like that. That has nothing to do with the radio. I just kind of looked at shit and would be like, ‘OK, I want to buy that.’ I remember Anti-Nowhere League … they had a lot of pink on that one fucking album, too, and I bought it because I was like, ‘It’s pink!’ [laughs]
No, it’s funny how when you don’t know the stuff or you don’t know what the band looks like or whatever, there’s weird little markers. ‘This must be good because it has the color pink on it.’
Jennifer Herrema: Exactly!
I would just be like, ‘Okay, like, Cliff Burton has a Misfits shirt on, so I’m gonna like them.’ But when I went from Metallica to the Misfits, I’m just like, ‘This is so, like, weak.’ I didn’t understand, ‘Why would they think the Misfits are cool?’ And then I had to somehow spend enough time with it to understand it.
Jennifer Herrema: I liked the Misfits too, but there was definitely a DC/New York thing that was unspoken. Now, I wasn’t even part of that thing, but you just kind of felt it. I don’t know. I saw the Beastie Boys when they put out Pollywog Stew and fucking bought the 7”.
That was the first record I heard before I started playing guitar or anything where I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I can do this.’
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah. [laughs] Exactly. See, that was the other thing. I was listening to all this stuff, and I was like, ‘I can do this,’ but I think it was more like I had so many ideas in my head that as far as executing them, like … who am I gonna sing with or play with? But it all came together, like when I met Neil…
How did you guys meet? You went to New York, right?
Jennifer Herrema: No. No no no. 11th grade … I graduated early. I mean—some people graduate when they’re 16 and almost 17, and that’s what I did. I skipped ahead. And I got a full scholarship to the New School for Social Research in New York. So 11th grade, my first boyfriend who should have never fucking been my boyfriend … but it’s all part of life. Part of me is like, ‘How the fuck did my parents let me date a 20-something year old?’ But he died. He died of a heroin overdose, and I just remember like Ian MacKaye spoke at his funeral. He was in like a wooden tinder box or whatever, and one of his good friends—of the dead boyfriend, Brian—was there. I’d met him once and I’d always heard about him. His name was Dane. Then we became friends, and he was in a band called the Jet Boys of the North West and they played up in Adams Morgan, and I went and saw them one time, and it was Neil’s band, and it was like… cuz I’d seen a lot of weirdos, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this guy is the shit.’ I’d just never seen or heard anything like Neil before. At all. At all. And so Dane and Neil lived in a fuckin’ warehouse by New York Avenue Bridge. It had a toilet. It didn’t have a shower or anything like that. I would go there after school. Like I would always pick my places. So I would go there after school and just kind of hang around, like not really … I was really kind of there to see Neil, but he never knew that. And Dane was fucking 30 years old, and I’m like fucking 15. So I would just go hang out there and just kind of take it in, and then we just started doing a lot of acid. I started doing acid after school all the time, and then, you know, acid acid acid. Then Neil decided I was his girlfriend, acid acid acid, I had got the scholarship to the New School in New York, Neil and I started playing, just the 2 of us at DC Space because it was kind of like … basically make it up as you go, freestyle, adlib, I don’t know. They called it improvisation, but I don’t know what the fuck I was doing. But it was fun, you could do that at DC Space. And so Neil and I would do that stuff, so that was early Royal Trux. And so then somebody came around and I was working at a kite store. Somebody came around asking for his phone number, and there was no phone. But it was Julia and Jon were looking for him because they wanted him to be in Pussy Galore. So we all met at DC Space, and they hired him, and so he went up there with them and they put him on salary and paid his rent, and then I followed like a couple months after for school. But I lived at the YMCA, because the New School didn’t have any dorms or anything. It was just … you know, you can rent your own apartment, or you could stay at the YMCA, and I just stayed at the YMCA. And that’s how Royal Trux kind of started. It started in DC, and then they came and brought him from DC to New York. When we first lived there, you know, up to New York, he was in Pussy Galore. We had no money and we had no rehearsal space, and so we didn’t do anything Royal Trux until I saved enough fucking money at the grocery store, working at the grocery fucking store. [laughs] And so our music came out a few years after we’d already been there.
What about Pussy Galore? How was that band received at the time?
Jennifer Herrema: Oh, it was received really well. It was interesting … the way that I saw it, being younger than all of them and just coming from where I came from, just seeing scenes … I understood the whole concept of scenes, just because of DC punk rock. I understood how people would go to shows and they would hang out and da da da da da. And if you went to the Iron Cross show, you’d see Sab and Dante play, but you’re gonna get a bunch of fuckin’ bumper beers and mohawks and bristles and cream and all that shit, but if you go over and you see Minor Threat, it’s a whole other look. So it’s like the scene compartmentalized itself based on how people looked. And that actually was happening in New York, too, and I noticed that.
Where did you start to find your look? I remember when I first saw you, I was like, ‘This is the only person who’s wearing bell bottoms now.’ The 70s look now is totally a thing, but not when you were doing that, though.
Jennifer Herrema: Well, it was basically … I mean…
Except for Cliff Burton again. [laughs]
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah, no, I mean, the thing is any jeans I had I would just sew up and patch and stuff—just make. So I was always just wearing jeans, boots and t-shirts, regardless of whether they’re skinny jeans or flared or whatever. It was kind of super makeshift, super no money. But growing up I’d always been a denim and … you put me in a dress and I’d throw a temper tantrum.Then I didn’t like fancy-fancy … I didn’t like anything that was like, ‘Hey, look at me!’ But I also didn’t like any stuff that was like, ‘Hey, this is what I am!’
Was it conscious at all to be like rebelling against the D.C. anti-rockstar thing? More like rock ‘n’ roll?
Jennifer Herrema: That never came to my mind at the time. There was no anti. But it really was anti in so much as I started smoking weed when I was 12 and drinking when I was 12, and I was not down with that straightedge shit at all. So part of me I think got my first lesson in kind of recognizing scenes and self-righteousness and things that connected people. And as I was saying, like, the Misfits were … but then the Misfits got cooler though after Lyle Preslar started playing with Samhain later on, and that was like, kind of … Minor Threat Misfits co-mingling. I had friends in that scene and they were all older than I was, but I was kind of never … just because of sheer location alone. It’s not like I could walk out of my house and just run into, you know, Michael Hansen or Alec MacKaye, which you could if you lived in Georgetown, you know. It was just a different thing like that. But I don’t now, I love some rockstar shit, honestly. I went and saw fucking Rush. I loved Rush. I mean, I didn’t know what it was or anything. I didn’t compartmentalize at all. Like I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is my scene so I reject all others.’ I was like, ‘I don’t have a scene.’
I just feel like that’s kind of the music of Royal Trux. Like this is not part of any scene, but it’s kind of a conglomeration of all these different kind of influences. We can be like Rush, or we can be a punk band, you know?
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah, yeah, no, exactly. Well it’s just … we wear our influences a bit on our sleeves, but they’re also kind of a bit … like it’s not like you can actually list them all, because they get jumbled up, you know? But it’s like, I used to say—I didn’t grow up in a skinnerbox, so basically every single thing that has touched my ears and that I’ve liked—and things that I’ve hated—have kind of formed my … you know. I’m not in charge, I’m not in control of my brain. [laughs] That’s a fact. I got formed. By life. Life formed my brain. Stuck with the one I got.
ROYAL TRUX’ QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT IS OUT FRI., NOV. 29, ON RECORD STORE DAY FROM FAT POSSUM. ROYAL TRUX’ WHITE STUFF AND PINK STUFF (WITH ARIEL PINK) ARE OUT NOW ON FAT POSSUM.