June 20th, 1995, TRULY released their debut studio album Fast Stories..From Kid Coma on Capitol Records imprint Revolution Records. The road is littered with bands that should have been bigger than Jesus, but for whatever reason, never quite reached the mass appeal they deserved. The name Truly should have been tripping off everyone’s tongue in 1995. And today we should be celebrating them as the mind bending, brilliant band they are.
Formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. Truly came together after a meeting between former Storybook Krooks member Robert Roth and drummer Mark Pickerel who, by 1991, left the Screaming Trees having been in the band since the mid ’80s.
Before meeting Pickerel, Roth had auditioned for the second guitar slot with Nirvana, but they eventually chose to continue as a three piece, Roth said “At that point, I was just going to go in and record a solo record, and Mark ended up quitting the Screaming Trees that week..” Bassist Chris Quinn was added to the line-up, and the band found themselves in the studio, without a band name.
Roth recalls, “I already had a song called “Truly.” Chris said, ‘How about calling the band Truly?’ Mark was at work, and Sub Pop records owner Jonathan Poneman said, ‘Why don’t you call your band Truly?’ Two different people came up with the same name, at the same time, I figured that was fate.”
Soon after, Chris Quinn insisted on playing guitar, which left an opening for a bassist. Enter Hiro Yamamoto. “I was out of music for a while” Hiro reflects, “I just didn’t want to play. I was pretty tired of it. Mark called me, and said, ‘I’m playing with this guy, and we’re looking for a bass player.’ I was like, ‘OK, I’ll give it a shot.’ I hadn’t played for a couple of years. I listened to their stuff, and was like, ‘This is kinda cool…”
As a founding member of Soundgarden and an important member of that band up to the recording of Louder Than Love, Hiro Yamamoto knew a thing or two about what was cool. With Yamamoto in place, Truly released their debut EP, Heart and Lungs, through Sub Pop Records in 1991. This is the only recording that the band did as a quartet as Chris Quinn left shortly thereafter.
The trio signed to Capitol Records in 1993 and released their debut album Fast Stories…From Kid Coma in 1995. A blistering masterpiece of ’90s alternative rock, shot through with kaleidoscopic doses of psychedelia and earth shattering groove. It’s a slow burning triumph, and some of the very best material each member ever committed to tape, which is saying a lot considering their lineage.
The album opens with the seismic groove of “Blue Flame Ford” Robert Roth’s hypnotic guitar ripples and burns, drenched in rhythmic delay while Yamamoto and Pickerel drive a guttural, insistent groove. Blue Flame Ford is quite simply one of the very best songs of the era. A perfect blend of jet black hooks and euphoric release, it’s dark, sexy and infinitely cool.
“Four Girls” follows with a punk intensity, Roth voice sounds like he’s been gargling shards of broken glass. It’s an exhilarating ride through fuzzed out, punk meets hard rock psychedelia. “Four Girls” ends in a breath-taking cacophony that rolls right into the next song “If You Don’t Let It Die,” which can only be described as The Doors meets MC5 on the way to a Can concert.
The true scale of Truly’s approach on “Fast Stories…” only becomes evident on repeated listens. Such is the melting pot of sounds on offer. “Hot Summer 1991” stomps it’s way into the listeners soul with a simple groove and some beautiful vocal melodies gliding across mammoth guitars. “Blue Lights” features Mark Pickerel’s marching snare and molten heavy swirls of guitar and bass.
“Leslie’s Coughing Up Blood” is a a vital stab in the heart. Replete with a speaker shredding guitar tone and a blood curdling vocal delivery from Roth. It’s the sort of rock song that grabs you by the lapels and shakes you back to life. The hypnotic swing feel of “Hurricane Dance” slides from the speakers, Roth’s layered vocals sounding distant and disembodied, before the song picks up in intensity and speed as Roth repeats “Elevate me to your plane..”
“Angelhead” perfectly mixes the disparate worlds of 60s trippy psychedelia and 90s grunge thud. “So Strange” is exactly that, a druggy haze. It’s the perfect soundtrack for an inebriated midnight swim through molasses, “In your room, on your floor, under the moon/In the rain, in your hair, in my brain/I’m reeling, this feeling is strange/I’m reeling in your violet ray/So strange..”
“Fast Stories…From kid Coma” is a lot of things. What it isn’t, is a run of the mill, dumbed down, easily digestible rock album. It’s brilliance unfolds on repeated listens. It’s hooks are subtle but sharp, and once they ensnare you, your done for. The song-writing and performances are stellar throughout, and the production from Adam Kasper and John Agnello is suitably dense, crisp and warm.
In a 2013 interview with Greg Prato, Robert Roth considered Truly’s place in the Seattle scene of the early ’90s, saying, “I did see us as the next answer to grunge. Even when we started before things got real big internationally with Nevermind and everything, my impression locally in Seattle was that the classic grunge style had been done by 1990. And then a new decade came along, and people were kind of like, “Okay, now what?”
Truly did offer a new perspective, theirs was an expansive soundscape. They brought the fuzzed out sludgy riffs so integral to that first wave of grunge, but they ramped up the psychedelics, they deepened the hooks and reached further back into rock history for inspiration. In doing so they created their own place and sound among the many voices screaming for attention in the mid ’90s.
“Fast Stories..” has aged impeccably and is testament to the considerable talents of its creators. In a perfect world this album would sit alongside the millions of copies of Nevermind, Superunknown, and Ten that litter the record collections of so many around the world. Those who know and love this album, cherish it. To the uninitiated…. CHECK IT OUT..!