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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

April 25, 2006
Dax Riggs leads me into the bowels of Mercury Lounge, an appropriate setting for an interview with the brooding frontman of Huoma, Louisiana based duo, Deadboy & the Elephantmen. Sinister sounds hiss from the heating ducts and hollow taps emanate from the walls behind us as we discuss the band's gothic blues sound. Twenty-eight year old Riggs, more comfortable in the shadows than light, laughs with delight thinking some horror cult-film creature is trapped in the pipes and might escape in-between questions about his life and the band's debut record, We Are Night Sky.

"I was leaning towards the shadows all along"-Riggs tries to explain how his darker side has shaped his music and his life. Raised as a Jehovah's Witness in Indiana, Riggs started questioning the larger issues in life at an early age. Riggs' views about life and the goodness in God were altered after seeing the film Elephantman. The film documents the struggles and severe deformities of real life Elephantman, John Merrick. "I think it was the complete sadness of it that this gentle, artistic soul was locked in the body [of] what some people considered Leviathan. You know like the devil, it was…painful. As a little kid you just don't dream that horror is alive." Some time after seeing the film, Riggs moved to Louisiana, where he took up drugs and eventually dropped out of school in eighth grade. Foregoing school, he joined and played with a couple of metal bands, Acid Bath and Golgotha, before settling down with Deadboy & the Elephantmen in 2000. The gothic blues sound was a natural progression from the metal bands for Riggs - he used to listen to twangy country with his grandfather, and he picked up the blues from sneaking into the local bars and clubs in Louisiana.

The second member of Deadboy & the Elephantmen is the spunky, twenty-three year old Tessie Brunet. Brunet, originally from Louisiana, was introduced to Riggs through a cousin in Louisiana. After playing one gig together, they both realized they had something. Brunet moved back home from New York City to play full time with Deadboy & the Elephantmen. "She had never really played drums before, and she came over and it worked really well because everybody we played with tried to go nuts. They were all really good and I'm not that good on the guitar. It kind of fits because I'm primitive the way I play, but its good and it makes us different," Dax says.

Riggs' and Brunet's personalities create an interesting dynamic on and off stage. Riggs has a powerful onstage presence with a unique, low voice that melds blues and thrash. Brunet offsets his vocal power with a firecracker visual display that is shocking from a girl that looks small enough to fit in an airplane's overhead compartment. Riggs describes Tess as, "Fiery, opinionated. She'll tell you to fuck off way before me. She is way in that direction, where I am more likely to slither off." One strongpoint for the band is in the relationships they develop through tension, whether it's amongst the notes and lyrics or their presence on stage.

The duo's lack of musical training is the root of their sound on, We Are Night Sky. Riggs called it a 'New York Dolls kind of attitude.' He never learned how to properly play the guitar, and Brunet has only been playing the drums for three years. Undoubtedly, the imperfection makes the music interesting. "No one has ever taught me how to play the guitar or write a song. It's just something I've dreamed up. I think I can do it, so I do it." The primal rhythmic structure in the tracks and the blues-infused rock sound of the record has been compared to the White Stripes, but it's a lazy journalistic comparison. Deadboy & the Elephantmen's sound stands alone, rolling through sleepy ballads and fuzzy rock that seeps into your brain and heart only through time and repetition. The record doesn't allow you to get bogged down on one ballad - tracks ping-pong in intensity and style throughout the record, displaying the band's diversity in influence and talent. Those points withstanding, no one track pops off the record and screams repeat. However, We Are Night Sky is a record of potential from a band that is doing everything right - unique sound, interesting background, humble and signed to experimental label Fat Possum. Riggs hinted to expect more from his band than just one promising record, "If music was not in my life, I would be just an empty person with really nothing to say. My joy is in writing songs and that chill I get when I feel like I've done something that matters." Guess there's no looking forward to a Louisiana song-writing collaboration with Britney Spears and Deadboy & the Elephantmen. Damn.

SEE ALSO: www.deadboyandtheelephantmen.com
SEE ALSO: www.fatpossum.com

--
Amber Cartwright
A contributor of feature articles and the occasional review, Amber Cartwright calls New York City home. Find Amber on the Lower East Side at Motor City with a whiskey in hand, chatting it up with the leather clad bartenders.

See other articles by Amber Cartwright.

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