Dax Riggs wasn’t exactly born on the bayou, but neither was John Fogerty, who made a career out of swampy roots rock. But Louisiana is the closest thing to “home” for Riggs, who survived a childhood of displacement, an adolescence of hallucination (and metal, in a band called Acid Bath), and a half-decade of musical rebirth that found him shedding the shredding. After a few years of auditioning musicians to round out his new outfit, deadboy & the Elephantmen, Riggs met Tessie Brunet. It’s the kind of pairing that could supply the screenplay for some dour Gus Van Sant flick: Wandering soul/teenage runaway/child of divorce (Riggs) forms a band with a New Orleans orphan (Brunet).
The resulting output, We Are Night Sky, is laced with the hazy essence of the Gulf Coast’s tortured soul, from sparse, acoustic dirges like “Evil Friend” to stormy, electrified romps like “Ancient Man.” The dichotomy has certainly piqued the interest of White Stripes aficionados, but Riggs’ belly growls have something genuinely unforced and earnest about them, sounding far more natural than Jack White’s well-practiced bluesman holler. In softer moments, Riggs evokes the world-weary Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age), and atop more raucous grooves he infuses a bit more crooner bravado, a la Nash Kato of Urge Overkill.
We Are Night Sky is out now on Fat Possum, and the band begins a tour with the Fiery Furnaces next week. An appearance at March’s South by Southwest is also on the horizon.
deadboy & the Elephantmen tour dates:
2/10, Brooklyn, NY (Northsix) 2/11, New York, NY (Mercury Lounge) 2/13, Carrboro, NC (Cat’s Cradle)* 2/14, Charlotte, NC (Visulite Theatre)* 2/15, Asheville, NC (the Orange Peel)* 2/17, Tallahassee, FL (Club Downunder)* 2/18, St. Petersburg, FL (the State Theatre)* 2/19, Orlando, FL (The Social)* 2/20, Gainesville, FL (Common Grounds)* 2/22, Atlanta, GA (Smiths Old Bar)* 2/23, Nashville, TN (Exit/In)* 2/24, St. Louis, MO (Mississippi Nights)* 2/25, Champaign, IL (High Drive)* 2/27, Indianapolis, IN (the Music Hall)* * – w/Fiery Furnaces