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Savoy Motel’s Jeffrey Novak made it through 2016 by listening to Royal Trux (a Top 10 list)

Jeffrey Novak (in stripes) with Savoy Motel
Jeffrey Novak (in stripes) with Savoy Motel

We’ve been asking artists for their Top 10s of 2016, and I had a feeling that Jeffrey Novak of Nashville’s Savoy Motel would send us something interesting. Novak is a real music head and, back in 2013, when he was fronting Cheap Time, he sent us the “Top 10 things about Lou Reed that everyone else seems to be overlooking”” which if you haven’t read, you should. This year, his list is dedicated to scuzz virtuosos Royal Trux, who reunited this year will play Primavera 2017. (RTX made Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor’s list too.) “It was hard to come up with something positive from 2016 to turn into a list,” say Jeffrey, “but a top ten of what I love about Royal Trux seems topical enough.”

Savoy Motel’s excellent debut album is out and they’ll be on tour with The Lemon Twigs next year. Check out Jeffrey Novak’s “Top Ten of What I love about Royal Trux” below.

2016 has been a very dark, bizarre year filled with an abundance of death and disillusionment, but fortunately I, along with my bandmates in Savoy Motel, Mimi, Jessica, and Dillon, have tried to escape the overwhelming cloud of bad vibes as much as possible with our music. For me personally, few bands in my life have helped me escape more than Royal Trux. After discovering Royal Trux through Neil Hagerty’s fretwork in Pussy Galore as a teenager, I’ve never been able to get enough. They’re way up there with The Beatles and the Stones for my ears, and probably the best American band to hit the world since Television. Since they broke up in 2000, I’ve never stopped listening to their immaculate discography and trying to turn friends on to them. I couldn’t believe the news last year, when Neil and Jennifer reunited for a one-off, or how they’ve kept up their semi-reformed partnership throughout 2016 (and into 2017). It was hard to come up with something positive from 2016 to turn into a list, but a Top Ten of what I love about Royal Trux seems topical enough.

10. PRS Guitars
Parker Fly guitars might be the absolute worst, but PRS Guitars are practically as uncool as it gets. Paul Reed Smith is the signature brand guitar of bands like Creed and Hoobastank, so I was surprised that Neil Hagerty played several PRS models throughout Royal Trux’s major label period and beyond. I can only assume that Hagerty was inspired by Dickey Betts, who had a short stint playing PRS Guitars in the early 90’s Allman Brothers Band.

9. Victory Chimp
I’ve never read Neil Hagerty’s novel, Victory Chimp. I’ve also never read Marc Bolan’s The Warlock Of Love or Peter Hammill’s Killers, Angels, Refugees.

8. Copy Cats
I’ve continually checked out any bands that get compared to Royal Trux in press. Most bands don’t cut it, except for Sic Alps, who at times had a similar magic vibe and great songs to match. But in all truth, no band ever gets close to capturing that certain dark juju that only RTX can conjure.

7. Skull Ring
My sister, April, gave me the Royal Trux comic book for Xmas years ago. The comic has an amazing Ad inside it for a RTX PEWTER RING with a skull on it for $10. I regret never mailing money to the Pink Heart Society to receive one.

6. Yamaha Guitar
The first time I saw the cover of Pussy Galore’s album, Right Now!, I was mostly blown away by the guitar Neil’s playing in the photo, a late 60’s red hollow-bodied Yamaha. The only other person I’d ever seen play the same guitar was Dolly Reed as Kelly MacNamara in the fictional all-girl rock band, The Carrie Nations, from Russ Meyer’s 1970 cult classic, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. It might be the same guitar Hagerty plays on the first two Royal Trux albums, since he’s also playing it inside the gatefold of Twin Infinitives.

5. Cover Songs
I’m not sure I ever would have checked out Jefferson Airplane’s Bark, if it weren’t for RTX covering Law Man.
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4. “NY Avenue Bridge”
I had never seen Twin Infinitives on LP until Drag City reissued it in 2009. I grew up with it being this 4 track CD with the longest pauses ever between the songs. Neil and Jennifer are masters of sequencing, which is why all of their albums work and hold up so well. They know how to send you on a sonic journey and cap things off at the end, with what film-critic Jason Shawhan might describe as, “morning music.” Similar to how Talking Heads sequenced Remain In Light and Speaking In Tongues, and as Royal Trux did later on with “Stevie (for Steven S.)” from Accelerator, “NY Avenue Bridge,” is the only way to cool down after making it through Twin Infinitives again.
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3. “Driving In That Car (With An Eagle On The Hood)”
This closing track off their 4th album, Cats And Dogs, has this hypnotizing effect on me. It takes me back to being 17, riding around the countryside of west Tennessee on my bicycle, and listening to this cassette I made with Cats And Dogs on one side and Accelerator on the other blasting out of my Freq Walkman.
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2. The Interviews
The interviews with Neil and Jennifer are just as crucial as their albums. They’re 2nd maybe, only to Redd Kross for the amount of records I got turned on to just from reading their interviews.

1. Sweet Sixteen
RTX’s masterpiece that remains unreleased on LP and long out-of-print on CD. Don’t be dissuaded by the one star reviews or the cover art, this album belongs in the classic double LP pantheon along with Exile On Main Street, Physical Graffiti, and the White Album. At first if feels like a little too much to take in, but it has proven to be the most rewarding Trux album over the years and re-listens. All I want for Xmas is for Drag City to reissue this on vinyl.

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