Neil Hagerty on "Cult" Status, Performing Twin Infinitives, and Licorice
In this time of literal and figurative Armageddon, nothing is shocking in regard to musical reformations, reunions or resurrections. I could tell you a hologram of Jim Morrison was about to record a duet with Ke$HA at Sun Studios and you probably wouldn't bat an eye. But when rumblings came down the pike a few months back about a reunion between Neil Michael Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema, the two personalities who made up the most enigmatic indie outfit of the 90's Royal Trux, even some of the most jaded eyebrows started to rise.
After much Internet back and forth, it was revealed there was to be no reunion between the two. Rather, Hagerty would be performing the band's double LP opus from '90 Twin Infinitives in its entirety for one night only at Brooklyn's' Saint Vitus Bar without the help of Herrema whatsoever.
Realized and recorded when the duo were in the throes of heavy drug addiction, Twin Infinitives is a patchwork recording of tracks that weave in and out of each other with a singular, stumbling grace. Most of the tracks from the album were considered too difficult to pull off live by Haggerty and Herrema even back then. Suddenly, the whole thing of Neil attempting this without Jennifer took a back seat. Just the fact he was trying to pull this off at all was a mindbender. Even from beyond their grave, Royal Trux is an entity that'll make your scratch your scalp until it's bloody and raw. You gotta love it.
Neil Michael Haggerty was kind enough to answer some questions we had in regards to both the Twin Infinitives album and the upcoming performance. He also answered queries on licorice and Ruth Buzzy. What a fella.
In my world, I always paralleled Twin Infinitives with full lengths such
as White Light/White Heat, Trout Mask Replica or Anthem of the Sun. They're albums that people refer to as important, but they are not
necessarily records that you listen to casually. It's not something like Rumours or Pet Sounds. Why do you think people revere it when it is something of an impenetrable artifact?
There's probably a word for it in Avestan or something but the feeling of going into difficult musical structures with the trust that the builder has a clear intention and can deliver you through it without neglecting you or plaguing you with ideology is a special pleasure.
I've noticed some stink being kicked up on internet message boards about
how this performance of Twin Infinitives isn't the '"eal thing." What exactly is the "real thing" in your mind?
The "real thing" would be me and Jennifer. But the real thing in 1988 was a four-piece band and that's what I'm going back to for this concert. I'm trying to do that thing like the Miller-Urey experiment, stirring all the ingredients for the chemical origins of human life together under the proper conditions.
I've been thinking this concept is the equivalent to what a band like Furthur does; a sorta tribute band honoring itself. Do you agree at all?
It is like that. Talking to Jennifer about it I reminded her of how we always had a scheme to eventually franchise Royal Truxes across the country. She liked the sound of that.
Do you feel the need to justify your actions in regards to doing this performance?
I hope the concert will justify it. My biggest concern is justifying the music on that record by our performance.
Have you actually been sifting through the recording of Twin Infinitives and relearning the tracks?
Oh, yes, work began in August.
Is it strange to come back to these tracks?
It was great. To be able to listen to it as a piece of music with the goal in mind of arranging the songs for the Royal Trux 1988 line-up was really fun.
Are you the same person at the time of recording the tracks as you are now?
I am the same person but I have done some things now. Back then I felt very disrespected, very much like I was just supposed to be the mark in some big con and who did I think I was to have ideas. So I don't have to deal with that kind of teen angst now.