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Baker's Dozen

Sweet Thirteen: Jennifer Herrema's Favourite Albums
Nick Hutchings , July 29th, 2014 12:56

Following their interview about Black Bananas' new LP Electric Brick Wall, Jennifer Herrema talks Nick Hutchings through her Baker's Dozen of seminal records

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Photograph courtesy of Cat Stevens

How does that old rock & roll adage go? If you can remember it you weren't there, right? I'm sure it's something like that. Jennifer Herrema, the charismatic leader of Black Bananas and half of the cult duo Royal Trux has certainly been there and worn the sleeveless t-shirt. Doing her Baker's Dozen in a scattershot mixture of Skype and call and response e-mails, Herrema has a diligence and determination that belies her slackerish demeanour. It's no surprise, given the fact she has truly lived the life of all her rock heroes thrown into one, that she only remembers some of her favourite albums and artists in mind-jolting flashbacks. But it's not just the hard living that's proved distracting, it's also the sheer amount of stuff she's doing right now. Being Jennifer Herrema is busy. Black Bananas recently released their second album Electric Brick Wall on Drag City, featuring two songs written remotely with her old Royal Trux sparring partner Neil Hagerty. They've also done a remix straight swap with Liars - 'Mess On A Mission' for 'Physical Emotions' - and Herrema has written a song called 'The Stepkids' for The Avalanches. It may have seemed that her time was in the nineties as part of the post-Nirvana carve-up, which produced some of the most truly alternative music ever put out on a major label, but in a meeting of the space-rock time continuum, Herrema's time has come again and how! In fact, that's what I need to find out, the how – the sum of Herrema's parts that make her and the Black Bananas and in fact all of her work to date so vital. It's time to let Jennifer speak, so as you read this hear her distinctive drawl narrate in your head while you take a journey into hers.

"Writing this Baker's Dozen, I can remember parts definitely – I can remember a myriad of stories from the Royal Trux days but I can't tell you necessarily what years they were. I think it started as subconscious where I didn't remember some stuff because it was too fucked up to remember, so you just go into that kind of wall and don't let it back in. But I think over time subconsciously I don't let myself get stuck on too much. Even with press and stuff. Neil taught me early on it's just like "never read your own fucking press". Miles Davis – that's what he said and I've learnt to tell you to do what he said. And I stayed true to it for the most part. I read a few things and think, "I wish I hadn't read that". Not because it's bad or anything but because it's so finite. I go months and months without listening to any music at all and it's just trying to remember the way I think about it, 'cause any record I put on, like Physical Graffiti, which is one of the Baker's Dozen albums, it just takes me straight to this place where that became the soundtrack of my life. So I listen to it and it sounds great but I'm not just hearing it for what it is.

"I had a really hard time of putting a timeline together – I only remember things in the abstract, like I spend a lot of time kind of downloading information out of my head and just holding onto the ghosts and the glimpses and retain that. What's past is prologue and it's not even a conscious effort to do that with me. As I was really remembering doing this Baker's Dozen, I was like, 'What the fuck year was that?' I kind of put stories along that went with the different albums I was picking and shit like that. It's just me being self-conscious. I picked albums that I not only love but that became the soundtracks of my life…. The list could have gone on forever, but I chose the ones that defined periods of my life and why…"

Electric Brick Wall is out now on Drag City - read our interview with Herrema from June about the album here. Black Bananas play Seaport Music Festival in New York on August 8 and tour Europe in November; head here for full details. Click on her image below to begin scrolling through Jennifer's choices


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ad hominem
Jul 29, 2014 12:15pm

oh my god, geto boys!

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Jul 29, 2014 2:36pm

This is why JH is-- and Royal Trux was-- great. Note the primacy or plurality of Great Black Music and compare to many of the dogshit ofays, both 'indie' and otherwise, who have particupated in this litmus test feature.

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Jul 29, 2014 5:38pm

How many more times can she mention she was stoned/tripping/on drugs to show “wow....I'm really out there”? Royal Trux.....ex-heroin addict NYC bohemians who made some of the dullest music imaginable.

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Mumm-ra McGuinty
Jul 29, 2014 6:53pm

In reply to Dennis:

You sound upset. Might your anus be bleeding?

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Jul 29, 2014 9:09pm

In reply to Dennis:

Missed your connection, eh? Tough shit, Sherlock...

MANY people would testify that great music can be enhanced with a little recreational drug abuse - n.b. "enhance", it has to be decent in the first place (of course) - do you honestly have difficulty accepting that?

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Jul 30, 2014 12:06am

Can Jennifer please write her autobiography? With doodles in the margins?

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Trux of My Tears
Jul 30, 2014 12:58am

In reply to Dennis:

Wow you really are Captain Funtimes, aren't you? The Bakers Dozen series is as much an autobiography in music as a list of fave records. Herrima is (/was/whatever) a recovering drug addict, so it stands to reason that drugs play a part in her biography. You imply that she's bragging about it, whereas when I read she was in a homeless shelter trying to get straight, sharing a walkman and a copy of NWA's Straight Outta Compton when she wasn't pissing in a sample jar, that's just so fucking sad and real.

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Jul 30, 2014 3:50am

I wouldn't call this bragging; I WOULD call it cinematic. I'd be interested to hear about modern bands she's into - not on Drag City

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Jul 30, 2014 8:27am

Long Ago I discounted Royal Trux because of some article I read. They seemed like some GnR/Stones amalgam. In the past few years I would think "maybe they're OK after all." Now that I see her musical tastes, she seems like a loser junkie, like Johnny Thunders or somebody with shitty musical taste. Nah, screw her & her bananas.

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Jul 30, 2014 10:09am

In reply to tab:

I would DEFINITELY pay to read that. :)

@ TheIntl: you mean Sun Ra/GnR/Ornette/Stones amalgam, surely?

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Moonee Ponds
Jul 30, 2014 10:20am

I dunno why you dullards are suddenly behaving so morally self-righteous, re: (ex) junky bohemians in rock - alleged or otherwise - they've made some of the greatest music of the last century, haven't they?

Exile On Main Street
Bitches Brew
Forever Changes
Station To Station
Tonight's The Night
There's A Riot Goin' On
The Perfect Prescription
White Light/White Heat
Raw Power
Twin Infinitives

...shall I continue?

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Jul 30, 2014 11:23am

What a splendid collection of albums she's picked. I could happily spend a day listening to all of those.

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Jul 30, 2014 12:14pm

Self righteous morons can be hipsters too.. I'll never forget being shouted down at a hi res music site just because I mentioned smoking a little reefer.. Fuck them because no one else of note is going to. Ace choices here and black bananas is truly album of my summer on simmer

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Sir Nose
Jul 30, 2014 6:30pm

Jennifer is a brilliant weirdo; the fact that she'd done serious-- i.e. not country club-- rehab only adds to her already admirable character. Also, compare Royal Trux with Neil Hagerty solo; Neil is excellent still but Jennifer is a conceptualist of brilliance, even if she feels no need to portray herself as such.

Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time and ya'll done knocked her up!!!

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Jul 30, 2014 6:42pm

In reply to 9-9:

Great point. I probably should have listened to Royal Trux stoned....because with a clear head they sounded like dogshit.

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Jul 30, 2014 8:02pm

In reply to Dennis:

I have only walked out on two bands in my life, coincidentally, both of them were fronted by Jennifer Herrema.

Little did I know that RTX and Black Bananas were the same band. I won't ever make that mistake again.

Time and time again I have heard about how awesome Royal Trux were...Whatever talent she might have had at one point was not present when she stumbled on to stage with both RTX and Black Bananas (the two shows were about a year apart). Mumbling, back turned to the audience, barely coherent. She even questioned the audience as to why they weren't getting into it.

Easily the worst performances I've ever witnessed.

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Werewölf of LDN.
Jul 30, 2014 10:07pm

In reply to joe:

Sounds like Miles Davis, circa '72.

You'd probably have walked out on him too, right?

p.s. Electric Brick Wall is MAGFUCKINGNIFICENT. :)

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Werewölf of LDN.
Jul 30, 2014 10:13pm

In reply to joe:

Me again. Sadly I only saw RTX live once, on the UK leg of the Veterans of Disorder tour, & they were terrific.. So, I dunno, maybe you should just throw in the towel & go back to listening to your old Primus LPs or something?

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Aug 1, 2014 10:58pm

In reply to Werewölf of LDN.:

You really think Jennifer Herrema is in the same league as Miles Davis? Now I know you are full of shit.

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Aug 4, 2014 5:29am

Add all those together and yeah, that seems about right. Electric Brick Wall is one of my top albums of the year so far; "Eve's Child" is fucking earth-shattering. And fuckin' A for repping early BOC.

But please, no more about The Avalanches. Between Jennifer Herrema and Danny Brown it's criminal to keep teasing it like this.

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Rock In
Aug 4, 2014 2:41pm

In reply to G.:

Yes, Eve's Child has almost spiritual overtones. I know this is probably JJ sacrilege, but I would like to read the lyrics somewhere! I end up making up some of my own, but they don't make much sense.
I've been hanging out at the smoking area right beside the Electric Brick Wall all summer, and I'm not leaving

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British Music Homo
Aug 8, 2014 2:51am

Not enough Bowie on this list, mate! Can't be a favorite albums list without Bowie, mate! Bloody tosser! Welp, back to sucking cock. Death to all but Bowie and Morrissey and maybe Kind of Blue to show how open-minded I am. But yes, I must indeed get back to sucking big dicks.

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Mar 10, 2016 1:38am



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