Bigger Than the Both of Us
By Jay Armstrong
In my own living room, as I’m hitting stride on some puffed chest ego stroking story about kicking dust with Cheetah Chrome and Bobby Liebling on some otherwise forgettable night of recent past, a friend interrupts asking “who are they? Should I know them?” With such a harsh truth about reality in mind one is left with only one valid question; what kind of chance do the Trouble Boys (or any other band we give a shit about for that matter) have at all? In the end all of this amounts to nothing, all of it. On a long enough timeline every single one of us will be forgotten. In two hundred years do you really believe people are going to remember Richard Hell or Rush Limbaugh? Our reality is malleable, transient, shapeable. Therein lies the beauty in the mad burning at both ends void of definition lives we bold rare outcast misfit few call our own. Trouble Boys not only seem to understand this, they embrace it, which makes their complete strut tough closed fist approach worth propping above our plastic lives far more than everything else we pretend is important in these nothing-matters-and-what-if-it-did waning days of our lives.
As someone who does not subscribe to any religious ideology still I say to you; namaste wa-alaikum-salaam. Live your life, live it lame and void and shallow if you want, waste every last minute you could be staying gold making excuses, seek nothing and accept the generic as significant meanwhile the only fuck I give is towards holding myself accountable at valuing only that which has substance, valuing only my experience in the now with zero tolerance for anything less than that which is rich with content and shunning of all bullshit, calling it out where I see it. An aura of sorts surrounds each individual member of this band; they stand out in humble confidence under the guise of transcendent seventies archetypes with the unfortunate disposition of being born a half-decade too late. Their gospel had it been preached in eighty-one would have shaken the very foundation of existence with such force lesser bands would still be clinging upon them like a crutch. The misfortune for the Trouble Boys is our salvation. Even though over are the years of monumental bands being socially lifted into pivotal roles of the general psyche at least those of us with still seeking eyes squinting upon the slow setting sun of west Texas skies can sit shirtless in our folding chairs, Lonestar in hand, breathing deep appreciation as these last three heroes ride off in paced perfection into the proverbial sunset of our minds. Trouble Boys make the best goddamn rock and roll Austin has felt this side of The Skunks, if you don’t appreciate that, if you don’t want to swing your arm around my shoulder leaning head forward hair in our eyes over the stage while they lead us along as our pied pipers in this velvet coffin we call home then that’s cool by me, maybe I’ll see ya again on the long journey toward the middle, you know where to find me if you change your mind.
The line in the sand is ever changing as I grow older, some days I accept everyone, some days I condescendingly see myself as above pretty much anyone not in boots or leather, regardless the constant static universal on where the battle line hits the zero tolerance point is when people start vomiting all over my good time using talking points such as “our brand”casually in self-reference to their pompous trite capitalistic ambitions revealing just how much time better spent valuing the experience they waste in contemplation of algorithms and marketability. You know the type, two bands on every four band bill fit the description, standing around ideologically giving each other reach-arounds in their loud voiced “look at me” belief they are code crackers under the boot heel of a system they are being forced to conform to, delusional in the belief buying into our bullshit system is somehow acceptable out of their cool streetwise embracing of it as though the ends (selling-out) justify the means (shaping their creativity as individuals to conform for the sake of ego driven mass social acceptance)– the only thing I have to offer the conversation is, “just don’t puke on the turntable, Trouble Boys are on.” Kierkegaard once wrote, “even Judas who sold his master for thirty pieces of silver is not more despicable than the man who sells greatness,“ and that sums up what gives me a full on gender-neutral hard-on for the chauvinist ethos Trouble Boys champion in their embodiment of the spirit of Rock n Roll. I’m not talking about lame ass Zeppelin type trash here either, this isn’t Clapton sitting in his bedroom studying theory without feeling or Frampton’s sexist belief that only men understand music, this is that line eternal through Iggy and Reed, Ace and Wray, John Waters and Eagle Pennell, this is the Real and only you and I will probably ever give a shit about it. Sure it has all been done before. That’s just the way we like it. Trouble Boys aren’t sham artists studying Google Analytics, they are the legitimate, they are Plato’s agalma.
It takes about six seconds into any song or set they play to be floored by living and being alive in this moment where a band going off on a Rubinoos cover, and I fucking love the Rubinoos, as though the original had never existed feels as though existence itself shifts into some breathing sweating tangible Mingus song, all the hangups people find in what came before and how we got here absent from our minds, in a flash my subconscious screaming “the universe is on fire” as the Trouble Boys shout “rock n roll is dead and we don’t care” while simultaneously proving to us anything but to be true. With these dudes every single song they rail on is as though no one has ever done anything like it before. Which is what made last year’s split seven inch with Cheap Fur rarely get switched to the other side for me; these dudes obviously only care about making killer fucking songs for the sake of making killer fucking songs and in this life, at this time, there is nothing more noble bold brave heroic than that. Which is not to downplay Cheap Fur either, they fucked up by aligning two solid songs with the Trouble Boys, that’s all, which is basically like opening for MC5 in ’68. I don’t care if you are Seger playing “Heavy Music,” no one is gonna remember you when Trouble Boys start up, they pretty much overshadow every band we have heard since John Dwyer and Mark Sulton started feeling formulaic. No one feels fresh forever and if these dudes start being a hot item on Record Store day or whatever I’m sure we will complacently blow each other over how “we used to dig em before…” but in the meantime–
Briefly let me digress; don’t go thinking lost on me is the fact over a handful of sentences I manage to talk shit about both Led Zeppelin and basically Cream to then go on championing one of the more forgettable bands to ever trudge into the eighties, or out of Australia in general–I’m six-three two-sixty, get at me if you’ve got an issue.
So here I am chopping away at this keyboard and have managed to say about a sentence worth about the latest Trouble Boys EP. Honestly not sure what else I should say; I mean, if you haven’t caught these guys live yet what the hell are you doing? If you haven’t heard this record yet what kind of friends do you have? What kind of spots do you hang? Their noise on the first EP was on the tip of our tongues before the words ever even passed our sing-along lips. Who would have thought they could manage to progress to this point? I sure wouldn’t have and that first EP was on repeat for nearly two months at my last spot. Putting it on as I sifted through the ever blurring piles of clean and dirty clothes getting motivated to go out and feel the night. Those songs make you wanna go do something, to go feel something. These new songs though, they make me want to start a print magazine or band, they remind me of what it’s like to identify with some subculture I forgot I even belonged to, they make me want to affect the world around me for the better, to experience the world around me with the betters. If all we’ve got to offer existence is our own confusion what more could we ask for than to show up at a spot where the bartender knows us by name and the Trouble Boys are on stage? Basically these guys make Hotel Vegas feel like The Peach Pit on 90210 during the later seasons when they changed the place around from just being a diner and into a music venue, they make an average hang feel like the scene in Suburbia where they steal the grass and sneak into the mall to watch TV, they remind us that the bullshit dragging us into our graves can be stripped off, forgotten, they remind us memories can still be felt in the moment. Someone get Haggard on the phone, the good times aren’t really over.
I don’t worry much about the future, I hope you don’t either. Maybe these dudes will tour themselves into giants so tall their faces we can no longer see, maybe tomorrow they’ll buy a jeep and start stocking the glove compartment with Jack Johnson CD’s, honestly whatever happens could not matter less to me, in the meantime though, I’ll be over here switching this second EP back to side one not worrying about shit and hoping we don’t run out of luck. Maybe you dig em, maybe you don’t, guess that just depends on how much value you seek in that which you choose to love. Me and my loser friends though, ya know, we gotta go get Aerosmith tickets, top priority of the summer, room for one more if you wanna jump in with us, catch you around if not.