Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
All week, the media has been playing up the cultural and artistic significance of a film called "Troll 2," that is so horribly bad some people have been claiming that it's actually some sort of brilliant. As backwards as that logic goes, this film has earned wildly enthusiastic audiences and midnight showings of the picture have been selling out all over the world and the shitty actors who were in the film are now pseudo-celebrities despite the main actor really just working as a dentist in the Alabama. There is a hard-to-fathom cult following for this movie about vegetarian goblins who follow a family on vacation in hopes of turning them into plants so they can eat them. The reason "Troll 2" even works into this conversation about the Scottish band Trashcan Sinatras is the thought about how good cult followings and bad cult followings actually work. See, this band - which has been working for the last 24 years - making melancholic pop music that's the kind people choose to have their first dances with their new wife or their new husband at their weddings to - is still widely unknown in the United States, on the grand scale. But large masses of followers gravitate to them, travel hours after ridiculous hours to see them perform live and take vacation days from work to do so - forsaking pay and burning through tanks and tanks of gasoline, just to be in the same room as these men. It is truly a phenomenon that most bands, no matter how high of a pinnacle they reach, don't experience. We felt it here, already in the afternoon that this session was being recorded here in Rock Island, Ill., people all over the world were gasping that this was really happening, virtually via Facebook and Twitter. The impatient among them - having learned through enterprising fan club members and a couple of invited fans that the group had played a previously unheard and unreleased song called, "The Stairs of New York," here -- were salivating, having their corks popped, unable to wait it out. They were falling all over themselves asking, "When? When? When?" begging for high quality files for their own personal collections, bragging rights. This has nothing to do with guilty pleasure or liking a band simply for its outsider status. What the Trashcan Sinatras fans are doing is loving a band - freakishly loving a band wholeheartedly - because something inside them won't let them not love the band. Something inside of them is smitten beyond definition and they live for the gentle songs that starting coming on four releases in 1990 ("Obscurity Knocks," "Cake," "Only Tongue Can Tell," and "Circling The Circumference") and on into this year's "In The Music," of which's title track offers what could be the band's pick-up line in any bar they walk into, "We'll fill the in-between with the music/We make in love/In the music/We make in love/In the music/In the rhythm rising up/We rise above." It not only would keep all of those inside the joint won over - when the words were heard with the beautiful melodies intact - but it would assuredly win them drinks on the house. Lead singer Francis Reader makes these sentiments seem so breezy and cool, even when recounting a chance meeting with actor Ethan Hawke on an I Hate You New York song that is the unreleased number, singing, "Tired, we walked all the stairs of New York/Last time we stayed at the Chelsea Hotel/Met Ethan Hawke in a lift in New York/And he warned us to watch/Wish that we'd listened to Mr. Hawke/Wish I knew he was doing us a favor/He watched us go out in the dark/He swore we would pay for it later." No matter, this disgruntled take on New York. The fans there and from far and wide will still be there to greet them at the city limits. They will always be there, impatient as always.