Sunday, August 06, 2006

deadboy & the Elephantmen

I found this band to be so interesting while researching my previous entry that I had to spend a little more time writing about them. I think what initially caught my eye was all of the name-dropping-comparisons that kept popping up in almost every piece of information that I read about this Louisiana duo. Here's just a handful of names that I came across that I can remember off the top of my head:

The Stooges
The White Stripes
David Bowie
The Black Keys
Nasty Little Man (PR firm for Beck, Gorillaz, Radiohead)

That's pretty good company, even if it is by comparison. The Stripes and Black Keys comparisons are inevitable, as deadboy is a two piece who specialize in that same "swamp rock" sound as the latter two, but in my opinion that is where the similarities stop. The songs on We Are Night Sky, deadboy & the Elephantmen's 'debut album' are much more moody and the lyrics are darker than anything the Stripes or Black Keys have ever penned, and Dax Riggs has a much more checkered past.

"As a child growing up in Evansville, Indiana, Dax Riggs looked forward to the weekends. His parents were divorced, and Dax lived with his mother, a Jehovah’s Witness. Every Saturday Dax headed out with his mother and the rest of the congregation to neighborhoods further and further away to spread the good Word. Dax had the routine down.

'Hello, we’re visiting your neighborhood and we’d like to share some info with you about Armageddon. May I come in for a moment?'

Dax’s crusading days were cut short at the age of ten, when he stayed up and watched 'The Elephant Man' on HBO.

'Oh, it was really crazy. Up until that moment I believed God was good. My world was turned upside upside-down. I was like, okay, I now know God is bad. I started having all these nightmares that continued for years and years of being chased, and haunted by the Elephant Man.'

No longer comfortable in the home of a Jehovah’s Witness, Dax went to live with his more liberal father. Dax was twelve when his father, lured by the oil boom of the early 1980’s, moved to Houma, Louisiana. Shortly after arriving in Houma, Dax’s father secured work as a cook on an oil platform in the Gulf and boarded a small boat for the forty-mile journey. Dax did his best to adjust.

'I couldn’t understand what the fuck anybody was saying. I couldn’t even go into Popeye’s and order without pointing. I’m still not that good at it.'

Dax found Oak Lawn Terrebonne Parish High School even more difficult than ordering at Popeye’s and flunked the seventh grade. He was allowed to enter the eighth on the condition that he passed all courses with a C or better. But halfway through he quit school for good and moved to Florida with a girl.

'Yeah, we just took off to Florida. I was thirteen, she was older. Dropped a lot of acid. Do we have to go into this?' With school out of the way, Dax focused his attention on songwriting. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t last and Dax returned home.

Back in Houma, Dax and three other likeminded friends started the Heavy Metal group Acid Bath. They played anywhere they could around Thibodaux, New Orleans and Houma. They spent the winter of ‘98 headquartered in an old theater in Morgan City that had even tried screening porn before closing down. It still had electricity and a stage to practice on. When they couldn’t find the warm bed of schoolgirls whose parents were out of town, Dax and Mike Sanchez, the lead guitarist, retired to their half of the balcony. Acid Bath signed to the indie label Rotten Records. Of the four tours booked, Acid Bath only completed one.

Plagued by poor communication, drug addiction, and ultimately the death of Audie Pitre, the bass player, Acid Bath called it quits. During their brief existence, Acid Bath sold over 100,000 copies and remains a seminal influence today. You might even remember the deceiving, harmless-happy-clown artwork created by none other than John Wayne Gacy., the Boy Scout scourge.

By 2000, Dax had outgrown heavy metal and began teaching himself guitar and piano, and started playing out under the name deadboy & the Elephantmen. We all know where he got the 'The Elephant Men.' ''Dead Boy,' that’s just me being negative.' He went on to spend the next four years auditioning musicians before hooking up with the other half of deadboy, Tessie Brunet."

Below is a live performance of "Stop, I´m Already Dead" on the Henry Rollins Show from June 2006, this is their first ever television appearance. This song is available for download here.


deadboy & the Elephantmen - How Long The Night Was

deadboy & the Elephantmen upcoming tour dates:
8/08/06 - Columbus, OH
9/08/06 - Lafayette, LA
9/15/06 - Austin, TX, Austin City Limits Music Festival
9/16/06 - Austin, TX The Parish
9/19/06 - West Hollywood, CA
9/20/06 - San Diego, CA
9/21/06 - San Francisco, CA
9/23/06 - Portland, OR
9/24/06 - Seattle, WA
9/27/06 - Denver, CO
9/28/06 - Kansas City, MO
9/29/06 - St. Louis, MO

deadboy & the Elephantmen Official Site
deadboy & the Elephantmen on Myspace
Purchase 'We Are Night Sky' on eMusic