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Music on the Margins

Inside the world of John Trubee, Sonoma County's strangest songwriter



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People are idiots, people are idiots,

O dear Lord, keep them away from me

—'People Are Idiots'

"We get plenty of odd music," says Nate Nauseda, the studio manager and an engineer at Prairie Sun Recording Studios in Cotati. "We have an iconoclastic history here, and John is something even beyond that. I do not know how to describe his music. It is supremely weird. And I love it."

In the two decades that Trubee has lived in the North Bay, the state of the music industry has only continued to decline, forcing bands to self-promote and sell their records as well as make music. Knowing this, and ever the man of action, Trubee started his own label, Trubee Records, to allow him to record, distribute and promote his music.

Working with Trubee over the years, Nauseda compares him to Zappa.

"I can't say enough good things about John," says Nauseda. "He's an upstanding fellow, he always pays up front and he's always looking toward the next session. It's something he's very proud of, and we're certainly proud of him."

Trubee says that Prairie Sun Studio always spoils him with their top-of-the-line analog equipment and knowledgeable engineers. Not much of a fan of lo-fi home recordings, Trubee is willing and eager to use his little disposable income for recording sessions and studio time.

"I do things on a shoestring, but I don't have to answer to anybody or jump through anyone's hoops, which is why I can get away with putting all this profanity and ridiculous stuff on records," says Trubee plainly. "I don't have anybody telling me no, and I don't have to fight with other band members. I'm the bandleader, I write the music, I call the musicians and say play this, and they do it. Nobody's obstructing me, and that's extremely liberating."


Regardless of all the anger and profanity and darkness of the lyrics, Trubee considers himself full of life and pretty happy. The irony, he says, is that he likes his day job, which keeps him away from a desk, and working with senior citizens. He says he feels very fortunate and blessed for everything, the good and the bad. He even reconciled with his estranged father last year, shortly before he passed away.

"I don't apologize for being playful and mischievous and irreverent," says Trubee. "It's just who I am, and I think the world would be a better place if more adults were like that. I'm aware that we have to buckle down and work. But that doesn't mean our imaginations or curiosity have to dry up."

Still, every time one of his records comes out, Trubee usually gets another friend or family member who inquires as to the state of his mental health.

"I write these dark, weird lyrics that nobody understands, so I must be mentally ill, must be depressed," Trubee laughs. "At this point, it doesn't bother me. I think it's funny. It's like, who is this nut?"

Trubee Records can be found at To contact John Trubee about anything, email or send snail mail to PO Box 4921, Santa Rosa, CA 95402. Trubee reliably answers all inquiries.

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