Com Truise

I first met Com Truise in Budapest while helping Alex Kapranos recover from an allergic reaction to peanuts by reading him P.B. Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy.  

Wait, so Anarchy is the bad guy? asked Alex.  

Of course, I said, he’s calling the government agents of anarchy.  

Surely the Romantics were all for anarchy? asked Alex.  

I’m not sure you can lump the disparate group we call Romantics together as one, unified group, said a voice I did not recognise.  I turned to find a large, bearded and dishevelled man on his hands and knees picking up used cigarette butts from the floor.  He continued, Blake is seen as a forerunner for British anarchy, in large part due to his active participation in the Gordon Riots and the sacking of Newgate prison, not to mention his anti-industrialisation stance, whereas Shelley, Byron and Keats were more moneyed twats swanning around Europe using their influence to gain fame through what they advertised as art. Then, you have Coleridge and Worsdworth who were merely fond of nature.  And, that’s only the English Romantics, don’t get me started on the Germans and their nationalistic tendencies, or the Polish and their push for a return of the old aristocracy.  Anyway, don’t mind me, I’m just looking for enough tobacco for a decent smoke.  

Alex and I exchanged glances, both of us unsure about how to proceed after such an interruption.  What makes you such an expert on the Romantics?  I asked.  

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, I just do a lot of reading travelling between gigs.  

You’re a musician? asked Alex.  

More a composer, collagist and reinterpreter, said the man now standing up.  But, you know, if you want to get basic about it, yeah, I make music.  

Alex makes music too, I said.  

If you call that music, said the man.  

Oh, said Alex, sitting up. His face was still puffy from the peanut reaction, but I could see the fire of anger igniting his eyes. And what would you call it? He asked.  

No offense, mate, said the man, but you make puddle-deep, artless, banal bullshit for students to get drunk and fuck to.  

Now, now, I said, trying to defuse the rising situation.  

Alex put up a hand to stop me and spoke in a quiet, steely tone.  Alright chucklefuck, I want to hear some of your music so we can get a gander at what puts you in a position to judge me and the millions of records I’ve sold worldwide.  

You wouldn’t like it, said the man, it’s got integrity.  

Just shut up, said Alex, and play.  

The man pulled a Sony Discman from the recesses of his rags.  I’ve got something I’ve been working on.  He pressed play. Through the in-built speaker came the first strains of Propagation from the album Iteration(2017).  By the time the song ended Alex was again lying down.  

That was, he couldn’t continue.  He closed his eyes.  I could see he was on the verge of tears.  I tried to comfort him, but he refused.  I’m a fraud, he said.  He’s right, I make disposable trash for drunk fucks.  

Don’t be so harsh on yourself, said the man, if it wasn’t for all that disposable trash out there for people to drink and fuck to most of us wouldn’t have been born.  

Listen to him, I said to Alex, he’s right, what you make is important.  

Leave me, said Alex as he pulled a blanket over his head.  

The dirty man with the beautiful music took my hand.  Come, he’s got some thinking to do.  

Who are you? I asked as we left.  

I’m Seth Haley, he said, but most people call me Com Truise.  

Like Tom Cruise?  I asked.  

No, he said, and we’ve been friends ever since.