Perfect Sound Forever


band pictures
left to right:Luke, Trevor, Robert, Nancy, Bill

Tribute and interviews by Jason Gross
(January 1998)

Years back when I just getting to be a record junkie, there was a wondeful record by this band called Insect Trust that I found called Hoboken Saturday Night. It was out of print for years and it was a long time before I met anyone else who knew about them. I was obsessed with the record- it was beautiful, stirring, weird, funny. It had marches, field hollers, rock, blues, jazz, children's music all in there and it actually made sense! These people had to be out of their goddamn minds and high on life. Yet, it didn't have any context to it. Who the hell were these people? Where were they? What was the story of the band? I had no clue and barely anything to go on. The group just HAD to be long gone but who knew what really happened to them? They didn't deserve to be some unknown cut-out in a record label roster.

 It took years for some of pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. Their first self-titled album was reissued in England. The clarinet player (Robert Palmer) turned out to be a famous rock critic. The singer (Nancy Jeffries) was well-known for her A&R work at Elektra. The banjo player (Luke Faust) was a folk musician still in Hoboken. One of their biggest supporter was another well-known rock critic who was one of Rolling Stone's original editors (Ed Ward) and gave the clarinet guy his first big breaks in writing. The guitarist (Bill Barth) was now a painter in Amerstdam. The saxophone player (Trevor Koehler) had killed himself a few years after the band broke up.

 To find even more about this band that I cherished for so long, I talked to Luke, Nancy, Bill and Ed to find what was the story behind the group. For some of them, it was like a psychologist's session, digging up long gone memories that they hadn't thought about (or been asked about) for years. The band never did make it big so people weren't exactly forming lines to find out about this. For the few of us nuts who few in love with their goofy, strange spirit, hopefully this is some compensation to give this great band the due they deserve.

 Sadly, just as I was getting in touch with Robert Palmer to talk about the group, he died before he could get the liver transplant that he was waiting for. This article is dedicated to him and all of the great work that he did, making me (and a lot of other people) love and appreciate music even more.

2000 Update: Bill Barth passed away on July 14th.  Please see this notice for details.

2005 Update: After a long wait, the 2nd Insect Trust album, Hoboken Saturday Night has finally been reissued on CD.  See Collector's Choice for details.

See the other parts of our Insect Trust tribute