Xtruppaw is a Maltese rock group that first appeared in public in 2005. The five musicians in this band are friends before anything else. They like each other’s company and have been involved in each other’s lives for many years. Jeff Galea is Xtruppaw’s main songwriter and leader, even though those terms should be very loosely applied to this group. Singer Noel Cuschieri and bassist Ronald “Rex” Grech call him “the Rolls Royce engine driving the machine” known as Xtruppaw. The group also includes guitarist Marvin Zammit and drummer Dino Mifsud Lepre.
Xtruppaw first thought to bring their fun songs to the public during Festaħwid in 2004, but it wasn’t until Festaħwid 2005 that they performed in public as Xtruppaw for the first time. Five more gigs followed, featuring a number of original songs as well as remarkable covers of songs like Xemx by Gozo legends The Tramps and Green Day’s American Idiot.
Their roots are firmly planted in the alternative Maltese rock scene of the 1990s. Rex is the one who has been active longest. He started out in a Thrash Metal band called Mandra, which specialised in Metallica and Black Sabbath covers and mash-ups. Before too long he got together with three other guitar players from a youth centre in Sliema called Dino, Jeff, and Marvin to form a Doom Metal band by the name of Tenebra. Rex was the most accomplished guitar player in the band, so they relied on him to teach them new chords and complicated licks. Dino eventually switched to drums, mainly because they needed a drummer but also because they felt that no band really needs three guitarists.
This new formation took on the name Victims of Creation, playing a couple of gigs, including one at Rock Café, and recording a song called Lotions and Potions (Toke One) for one of two compilation CD released by Storm Records in the mid-1990s. Jeff is not on the recording but he is credited as one of the writers on the song. He contributed various riffs and even a section of the lyrics. Jeff quit Victims of Creation frustrated by the slow pace at which the band produced new tracks and prepared for live gigs. Rex went on to play with Norm Rejection as well as Filletti and Friends, death metal band Lithomancy and various other short-lived projects. Incidentally, Noel was always in the company of the Victims of Creation and eventually became the singer for electronic punk band Cyberia, which also has other musicians involved in other music projects, such as Antoine Vella who is perhaps best known as half of Particle Blue. So, in many ways, Xtruppaw is a grown-up version of Victims of Creation, even though Rex and Dino reformed Victims of Creation in 2009 with other musicians.
Their day jobs give them constant reality checks. Marvin is a research and development engineer, Rex is schoolteacher, Jeff is a self-employed commercial graphic designer, Dino is a postal employee, while Noel works as a solutions architect at MITA.
Most of their songs started out as beachside sing-a-longs during friendly barbeques. Drunken lowbrow ditties peppered with vulgarities; one of their most popular songs is called Żejża. However, they chose not to include this song on their debut album, because they think that certain things don’t need to be preserved for posterity. The album is called Is-CD tal-iXtruppaw and was officially launched at the Luxol Sports Bar in St Andrews on Friday 2nd June 2006.
Their CD album captures the essence of Xtruppaw but they are first and foremost a live gig band.
Xtruppaw songs are very rarely played on the radio. Joe Demicoli became the first person to give them airplay when he played Malta on one of his radio shows on Super 1 Radio in 2005. A couple of words deemed unsuitable for mainstream radio were beeped out. The fact that worse words are regularly broadcast on local radio and TV in English or Italian but the same expressions or their equivalent in Maltese are still considered taboo, prompted the band to write a song called Diska Cool għar-Radio, which they released as a single to promote their debut album.
Notably, their song Ġenerazzjoni Ta' Meqrudin was the first song featured on the very first episode of the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast by Toni Sant, who cites Xtruppaw as one of the main reasons why he started producing this series.
The name Xtruppaw is a made-up name. It resonates with 'cool' and 'couldn't care less' and is colloquially synonymous with a lifestyle that is alternative, though not disconnected to the mainstream.
- Xtruppaw: Generation Exciting - Manic, 11 June 2006
- Bugeja, Michael. 'Music for the Masses' in The Sunday Times - 2 March 2008, p.54