Official music page and soapbox of Matt Snell

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Thomas Truax, Musical Genius

A few weeks ago I went to see Wax Mannequin. Opening up for him was a guy named Thomas Truax, who sounded pretty interesting in his own right. I knew I'd like Truax as soon as I saw his Sister Spinster waiting on the stage, a sort of solenoid-powered steampunk drum machine. On a stand nearby sat the Hornicator, a gramophone horn retrofitted with fancy electronics and a kazoo. As soon as he picked it up, I became a fan for life.

Truax taps out a rhythm on the Hornicator and loops it as a backing track. Then he sings and triggers farting, sliding, grunting noises via a mechanism I don't really understand. On the instrumental breaks he sticks the horn over his face and blows the kazoo like a swooning automaton. His homemade instruments are the whole package, and he's created a new music to suit them. They're much more than a gimmick or visual flourish.

What really sets Truax apart, though, is the fact that he doesn't even need them. He can entertain with just a badly-tuned guitar. Apparently his luggage was full with his homemade devices, and he couldn't pack a guitar. So he rented a shitbox in Toronto for eleven dollar, and played his heart out on a tune called "Full Moon over Wow-Town." First he climbed up on the bar and paraded along it, strumming and belting out the chorus. A girl on a barstool, seemingly unimpressed with the spectacle, checked her smartphone while Truax tapdanced a few inches from her face. So he leapt down and ran out the front door. When he didn't come back someone went to the door and peeked out -- Truax was running up and down the block screaming, "There's a full moon over Wow-Town tonight!" We might've followed him outside, but he dashed around the corner and disappeared. The crowd sat waiting for a stretch of two or three minutes. Suddenly Truax burst in the backdoor with the words "-over Wow-Town tonight!" and finished the song while doing an extended pirouette in the middle of the room.

I asked him after the show when he realized he could come in the back -- had he planned the whole thing? "Right around when I ran out the front door," he said. That kind of improvisational fearless is inspiring. As someone who worships albums by artists who make their own instruments (Moondog, Hans Reichel, Kaada, Harry Partch and Frank Pahl spring to mind), the chance to actually see something like this live is worth a Daxophone's weight in gold. I'd recommend you check out a show ASAP, but I'm afraid Truax's North American dates may have already passed for the summer - he's from Colorado but currently lives in Germany. Keep your ears open for next time, and savour this mindbending video:


  1. Cool story and video. I could have used a Hornicator on my wedding night.

    Do you know these people:

    Thought about you when I saw that.

  2. I hear you about the Hornicator. I rented a Copulatron for our wedding night because it was cheaper, and it just wasn't the same.

    I did not know the Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra, but I expect to come to know them intimately over the next few weeks.