Trunk Stop

Trunk Federation's second album finds each member getting in touch with his disturbed inner child

Once out on tour to support their debut, the Trunk Feds met some resistance from what Kennedy calls "all the little indie elitists." He adds that "anything that had a little distorted guitar was automatically dissed. They hated rock in general at that time."

"Let's not talk about rock," complains Andreas. "We're a techno band, y'know?" Alias, the band's label, likes to slap a "new psychedelic" tag on Trunk Federation, and that's fine by Andreas. "We listen to stuff that's almost exclusively slow and trippy. But you can still rock a crowd without playing something fast."

Old-school psychedeliacs will note that Trunk's head music owes more to the multilayered sound paintings of the British masters than the formless freakouts and jams that were once the chief export of California. No extraneous musical moments here, even on extended numbers like "The Reluctant Thief" and "Levitations and Disappearances," which pull out new instruments every 10 seconds like so many rabbits out of a hat. This album seems almost like Meddle-era Pink Floyd in its laconic passages, and recalls the Syd Barrett era at its most menacing. As proof of the band's allegiance to exploring trippier realms, Sanford offers as Exhibit A that he is up to 15 effects pedals. Smith's insistence that the increased background vocal harmonies means Trunk qualifies as a barbershop-punk band falls on deaf ears.

3. Most of this album was written in the span of a month.
"It was a stressful yet prolific time," says Sanford, proving true the old adage that a band has three years to write the first album and three weeks to write the follow-up. "We hated each other for a while, but we're all happy with the songs. Bob's addition to the band proved we could work together well. Before that it wasn't as easy to just shit songs. Well, we shit songs then, but these are better."

This severe crunch time called for quicker shitfests and more cunning song-borrowing measures. "Levitations and Disappearances," featuring the album's emotional high point--Jason's beautiful, slipped-a-mickey-and-getting-taken-down-the-scenic-route guitar solo--is rendered even more emotive when you realize its first six notes are identical to the State Farm Insurance jingle. "I never put that together," he says with a smile while cursing me under his breath. "That explains why we left the room during that State Farm commercial."

Furthermore, "Felicity's First Impression" owes more than a passing nod to "Pomp and Circumstance," and "Opposite Attractions" has the weird distinction of sounding like all the other songs on the album at the same time! Reluctant thieves--har-dee-har!

4. Trunk Feds would rather die before they tell you what their songs mean!
In the world of celebrity interviews, most welcome this forum for sneaking in their quasi-religious and personal beliefs. Queries of "tell me what this song's about" enable folks like Stevie Wonder to ramble undisturbed on spiritual bonding between people of all nations for 10 minutes minimum. But because Andreas is spiritually barren, his lyrics consist mostly of what syllables sound good together. Still, people often wonder what he's going on about. "I'm trying to develop more narrative, more stories in the lyrics," he says. "Before, it was mostly spitting out images, kinda vague. But I also like to keep it kinda loose."

So loose that the band would prefer you budding Charles Mansons out there to get it all wrong or right for yourselves. It's worth it not to include printed lyrics with every album, even if it means having the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms show up unannounced at Trunk's rehearsal space every once in a while.

"No, this one's not about a violent overthrow of the government, either," Andreas chides the agents before inviting them in for some orange juice. And if it meant that the director of the group's first video heard the band's catchy refrain of "Jello! Jello! Jello! You're Jello!" and concluded "Edible" was about being in an insane asylum, so be it. Everyone knows it's really about Bill Cosby's extortionist love child!

5. Miss Kitty ain't no kitty, she's a van!
By now you've probably heard that the Trunkers' blue-and-white road warrior once belonged to Amanda Blake, the late Miss Kitty from TV's longest-running Western series, Gunsmoke. Apparently, she didn't get much use out of it. "Amanda was very ill in her later days," Kennedy says. "That's why it's outfitted with oxygen. They probably spent 30 grand on it. It's got track lighting, even disco lights down the middle of it."

Miss Kitty the van had 20,000 miles on her when the band bought it from its second owner. It doesn't have the rock-band look unless you consider the seven months of touring damage on the inside and the dent that Andreas put on it in Washington while trying to parallel park. That oxygen sure came in handy that day.

6. Bob Smith is the Ringo of the group, but he doesn't want to be.
Sure, Smith's the bassist who brought a whole new spectrum to the band's sound with his extensive use of keyboards onstage and in the studio. But, face it, he's also the last guy to join, which qualifies him for endless derision and ribbing. Like the time in Kansas City when some drunk grabbed Smith's hair and it had so much grease in it that he recoiled in horror. Or that Smith's allergic reaction to felines inspired the red-eye album cover art.

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