Spring 2002 - New Bands To Watch in 2002

Deadsy: A Class Act

by Cathy A. Campagna

With a frothy spontaneity that's unabated by intellectually poised songcrafting, it's no surprise that Deadsy's founder has an Ivy League college alias. Think of Phillips Exeter Blue I as music's answer to Alex. P. Keaton. And like Alex P. Keaton, they both have family ties --Elijah Blue is the son of Cher and Greg Allman, and has this to say of his astute stage name-- "I'm definitely not trying to make it an alter ego, as much as a continuity with my own natural character. That name is kind of like the way I naturally am, and that's why my whole thing is the pupil, because I'm really a student of this thing that we created. It's much bigger than us." 

This isn't a transformation from Clark Kent to Superman, and it's far from dressing up. Actually, the singer/guitarist is stripping down to the bare essences that lurks within, making "the thing that's bigger than us" the maliciously thematic Deadsy. "That's why there's so much vastness to be explored in the future --The band is much bigger than any of it's own individual members, it's its own institution that we are participating in." 

The rest of the players in this Deadsy institution of higher learning' scryptically intriguing orchestra include Carlton Megalodon (synth/guitar), The Beast Craig (bass), Dr. Nner (keyboards) and Alec Pure (drums). Sound mind boggling? Needlessly complex? Too arty? Only if you're opposed to a band that goes left of center with imaginative rock roots like Rush, and practically supernaturally intermingles them with a voice that projects a grave image of witty prose. It's the type of music that kidnaps, but doesn't want a ransom. 

"I did the demo in 1995, so the whole idea of it has been around for six years. But the whole incarnation that it is now is about two-and-half-years-old," says the 25-year-old, outlining what brought his outfit up to their March 2002 debut Commencement, release through the Dreamworks records imprint Elementree. How'd Blue get associated with Korn frontman Jonathan Davis, who's spearheading the band's upcoming release? 

"Well, I've known him for about five years now, since before Korn started making Life is Peachy. We actually did a track with them for our first record, then." Yes, this isn't Deadsy's first album. But it is their debut album... "It's just the boring history of record label drama --It would take two months to explain all of that. It's all better now, though, and I think that's all that really matters." On that note, he continues onto the albums first single, the Davis assisted, "The Key To Gramercy Park." 

"I think this is a way better collaboration, it's way more powerful and tasteful." Without hearing their previous collaborations, you'd be hard-pressed to disagree, as the track is the most granulated on the album, and is immediately appealing to the primitive bone. "We engineered that song to be like the gateway [to the album] --It's not too arty, and it's a slamming, three-minute-and-11-second rock jam. It's well structured, it's in your face, and it was engineered to be that song for us that is a good way to brief people on what the band is about. Granted, I wrote the song like nine months ago, but it deals with not the history of New York violence, but the darker side of New York... It's kind of using Gramercy Park as a sanctuary metaphor. With all the darker stuff that's gone on, like the history of Central Park murders and stuff, that's one other way it could be construed. The lyrics in all our songs are written pretty metaphorically." Expect to hear the song live, where Deadsy plan on taking their show on the road with Korn early this year. 

Heading out on the road with the band most often credited as the forefathers of "nu-metal" tells something of Deadsy's potential, as did their year-ending Family Values performances in 2001, where the only thing green about their approach was their lighting. The real shocker? "That was our first tour ever!" raves Blue. "Actually, we did like four dates with Static-X before that, and had a few shows in the L.A. area... It was weird, it felt like being in a Journey video," he said of the arena routine. "You have to drive from the dressing room to the stage, and it takes like 20 minutes!" 

Kidding aside, Phillips Exeter Blue I and most of his cohorts have been friends since high school, and have constructed an airtight CD with the praying mantis-like lyrics of "She Likes Big Words" --"She bites the heads off her mutual friends" --and accompanying music that is as beautifully disembodying. And then there's the wide wingspan of "Flowing Glower," the first Deadsy song ever written. 

"That's actually the blueprint for the whole ideal, but that's obviously like a slow jam." Evident throughout is the yarning tempo of "Crimson and Clover." "I definitely am influenced by Tommy James And The Shondells (the song's original writers, it was later covered by Joan Jett) --I love all of that, and the '60s stuff, too. I discovered a lot of that stuff later, but in my younger years I was pretty much just straight metal, and a little bit of industrial, new wave metal." 

The metal background is still present, including an appreciation Blue shares with Metallica --The Misfits-- "Yeah, there's definitely a little bit of their [Misfits] ascetic... But there are absolutely others-- Bowie is a big influence for me, and King Crimson, Keith Emerson and '70s prog." 

When it comes to actual songwriting, the scholastic writes "the majority of all the material, but then the other guys will contribute with small riffs and sections--To me, there are a lot of times where that is definitive of the life of the song, so I think that deserves writing credit, as well." 

Blue produced the band's debut with electronic-famed guru Josh Abraham. "I think it's about setting up a framework, so that this record doesn't get too high conceptually into each person's identity, it's just a rock album. I'm setting it up like that for future albums to come to where it's super high conceptually." 

Those who have seen Johnny Depp's latest, From Hell, have a good idea of what territory Deadsy will probe more extensively and graphically in future endeavors. It's not about devil worship, but rather, something way more elaborate and sophisticated. Ironically enough, Blue admits that he actually has one of the rings from the movie (the white one), as does his keyboardist (the maroon one). "I think that a lot of people are starting to touch on arcane and esoteric stuff in movies, because it's something that hasn't really been explored as much in pop-culture --It's an interesting frontier. It hasn't really been delved into, so I think what we are trying to do is combine that with a really comprehensive ascetic, to make it a little more accessible... I just see all the things that haven't been done yet--That's all I see all day. In my head, there's just this vast ocean of stuff that hasn't been done." 

On a more tangible note for the moment, the enigmatic crooner thought that the Family Values tour was great exposure for his band --The diverse billing had it's advantages, but Blue wouldn't mind touring with Slipknot --"Their fans would just annihilate us! I think it's better for us to do that than just play it safe, though, because it seems like you have a little more impact on the audience." 

And what does Cher think of Deadsy? "She digs it," says her son. "I think she understands it--I don't think that she understands the extremity of the production, but I think when she hears a song here and there, she can vibe with that. She doesn't understand the necessity for it to be so crushing, but it's not really meant for her, it's meant for a different generation." 

Rest assured, this generation is ready for Deadsy.