In the early 90’s, Majesty Crush broke shoegaze and dream pop into new territories, cementing the band on the forefront of Detroit’s rock scene and the burgeoning genre itself. Today, The Numero Group is pleased to release their career-spanning double album, Butterflies Don’t Go Away, nearly thirty-some years since the band formed.

Till this day, there’s still no easy way to outline their tangled and confounding trajectory, or to make sense of how they teetered perpetually on the verge of a breakthrough that seemed promised but never arrived. This wasn’t a band that never caught a break, nor were they a bunch of stage-frightened introverts who would’ve made it if they’d just been a little more willing to play the game.

Majesty Crush was popular in its own right, enjoying local commercial alt-radio play and opening big shows for national bands right out of the gate. The band was signed to a subsidiary of a major label not terrifically long after starting out as one of many dreamy-eyed groups of the era that was self-releasing 7″s with smudged art on handmade covers. With close listening, the various shades of rawness that emerge in the lyrics, the sound, and the band’s ever-simmering overall energy begin to offer clues as to why the world wasn’t quite ready in the 90’s.

Not just a band from Detroit, Majesty Crush was distinctively a product of Detroit—one that mirrored their city’s complexity, singularity and cross-culture. The band’s frontman/vocalist David Stroughter, guitarist Mike Segal, bassist Hobey Echlin and drummer Odell Nails created a form of dream pop that was charged and uncompromising at a time when many were succeeding on an international level for merely recycling sounds originated by bigger bands. Instead of a Midwestern assimilation of a shoegaze movement evolving in real time all around them, Majesty Crush was a far stranger, impossibly individualized blur of personalities, experiences, and perspectives informed by the independent music badlands of the early ’90s, which played out in the unlit, unregulated corners of the Motor City.

Inspired in part by the emptiness of Detroit that surrounded them as a new decade began, Majesty Crush used their music to build a dreamscape of their own design from what felt at times like pervasive nothingness. Segal’s three-string guitar lines emanating wistful, spare melodies and drones, Nails’ dense, melodic drum beats and Echlin’s Joy Division-esque parts hammered out on a pawn shop bass formed a foundation for vocalist Stroughter’s psycho-sexual fantasy depictions that seethed and purred as if the world was ending in every breath. These were the primal elements that began Majesty Crush and set the tone of maximalist minimalism that would define their brief but prolific career.

By early 1991, Majesty Crush was a live band capable of a deep, noisy beauty fronted by Stroughter’s confrontational charisma. The band seemed to be everywhere at once, appearing as jagged pop eccentrics.  1992 saw Majesty Crush at their creative peak. By the end of the year they were filling out paperwork for becoming the proverbial Next Big Thing. The post-Nirvana feeding frenzy was on, and with a strong local draw of their own adding to an already impressive resume of stages shared with bigger acts like Mazzy Star,  Royal Trux, and more, bolstered by alt-radio airplay, Majesty Crush was ripe for the taking. Elektra subsidiary Dali/Chameleon came calling, with a free-range roster that included Lucinda Williams, the Queens of the Stone Age precursor band Kyuss and quasi-kindred UK shoegazers Bleach.  The band’s sole full-length Love 15 was released September 28, 1993.  A beautiful swirl of frustrated desire and contradictory impulses, the record perfectly summarized Majesty Crush at the height of their powers.  The future didn’t just seem, it was bright.


If only briefly. The band was mid-tour in New York a month later, playing a show the night Nirvana performed their MTV Unplugged. The mostly industry crowd left before Majesty Crush’s set to catch the Nirvana taping uptown, a harsh lesson in the fickle nature of the major label world. And not the last. The next day, Majesty Crush’s A&R person announced that Elektra had dissolved its partnership with Dali/Chameleon, leaving the label to fold. Kyuss was picked up by Elektra. Majesty Crush was not. The band pulled their van up to the label’s offices and were offered all the promo materials and advance CDs they could carry by outgoing staff—as well as a two-inch master tape of Love 15“We went from label discussions about having Moby remix ‘Cicciolina’ to being homeless in the space of a week,” Nails recalled.

Majesty Crush went on to self-release their Sans Muscles EP in 1994, followed by a split seven inch in 1995 and they quietly disbanded after.  A ‘best of’ compilation titled I Love You in Other Cities: The Best of Majesty Crush 1990-1995 was released in 2009, after band members had dispersed.  Two years prior, Stroughter had landed in LA.  He’d been diagnosed bi-polar schizophrenic at age 27, and though he was now making a living flipping cars, such a nomadic existence limited his access to medication and professional help. On January 18, 2017, he passed as a result of a tragic police shooting. David Darnell Stroughter was 50.

The impact of Stroughter’s death was concussive and lingering. No one in Majesty Crush had spoken to him in 10 years.  A hand-written letter to Stroughter’s sister was found, in which he asked her to be the custodian of his music.  It took on a bizarre and timely relevance when in early 2019, an early Majesty Crush supporter asked Echlin if the surviving band members had their masters and if they’d thought about a re-release. The next day, Echlin received a DM from a woman in Duluth, Minnesota, with the subject line: “I think I have your master tapes” and a picture of the Smart Studios boxes Stroughter had taken from the Dali offices fourteen years prior. He had left them with a roommate in LA in a closet, who had also recently passed, prompting his belongings—including the Love 15 masters—to be forwarded to his brother who was the woman’s husband.  One year later, Third Man Records highlighted Majesty Crush in their Detroit-area shoegaze and space rock compilation Southeast of Saturn.

Continue reading the full oral history by Fred Thomas here.

Butterflies Don’t Go Away features beloved singles like “Cicciolina,” “Uma,” “Penny for Love,” and “No. 1 Fan,” showcasing the band’s diverse catalog and includes lesser-heard versions of their singles, packaged all together for the first time ever.  For variant details and more info, see below.

Purchase / Listen / Playlist Butterflies Don’t Go Away Here