As promised, here is the full Elijah Blue Allman transcript from my interview for Stance magazine in August 2002.
What's the average day like for you?
Get up; hit the gym, yoga, reading and then right into Deadsy Business. We are filming our video, which is a huge project. As I get older, I try to have a sacred program to preserve myself. I try to be disciplined about staying healthy and in good shape, because that gives you clarity and confidence to do whatever it is you want to do. It keeps me in touch with that life force that lets me write a new song or whatever.
I am starting to see the cause and effect of everything and the delicate balance so I just try to make time to preserve that. It is the most important thing to me. I want to feel like I am 17 forever, and you can, but as time passes, it takes more and more work. You can't do the same things you did six years ago and expect to feel the same way. It takes a while to learn that, maybe that's what the first five years of your twenties is. And the second five years is waking up to the fact that there is shit that must be done every day.
There are so many things I want to do, and this band is a big output, but I have a big wish list of things I want to make happen for myself. So the number one thing is to make sure I am in a good place above anything else.
I heard your first CD playing in a record store about five years ago and have been a fan for quite some time now.
I appreciate people who discovered us back then, that's what's special about it maybe. Everything that I ever thought was cool I kinda always stumbled upon it that way, so I am kind of happy that we started out with so many people stumbling across it and it being this kind of cult rarity.
Commencement is your third attempt at getting an album out since 1997. Is there a simple way to describe why it has been so difficult for you guys to get a record released?
I guess that we are one of those lucky bands…it comes down to this, I still think it was something that was just so on the outer rim, and has nothing to do with any sort of context of what was going on for the last six years. Even now, it is finally breaking through and it is accepted that we don't have to fit into any sort of context.
Our role is to be the band that breaks through and doesn't abide by, or obey any sort of trends. I think six years ago, that notion was not acceptable. There were a lot of delicate situations going on politically when we were at Sire/Warner Brothers—basically, Deadsy was something so outside of what was going on in music, that they weren't about to take a chance. I think ultimately they just didn't believe in it and wouldn't release it. I mean they signed someone they didn't believe in and were just so busy trying to figure out what the next band that was going to last for two seconds was. I mean it is so funny how many bands I have sat back watched these idiots at record labels believe in shit more than our project. I have watched these bands come and just go so fast. Our staying power even with no record out, I would have rather done this than been one of those shit bands that came out and disappeared immediately. So I think it is a little bit of fate and a little bit of the procrastination of the record labels and being afraid of something like this.
Was it for the better?
As much as it caused a delay, it ultimately, for longevity's sake, worked in our favor. It gave us time to develop. Whenever we would get the word from the label that they were canceling or whatever, we were just like “Alright, fuck it, we are just going back into the studio and keep evolving so that when it does come out, it won't be dated, at least in our eyes.” It is a unique situation and a unique band.
How has the band and its music changed since then?
It's evolved, but back then it was an idea in its seedling formation. It wasn't ready to go anywhere yet, but I am glad that the time most people take to develop before they get a record deal, out of necessity I was forced to go get a record deal and then evolve. I was 19 years old and I was like “fuck it, I want to go get a record deal because I can and I am gonna do it and go snowboarding.” That's all I was thinking about back then. And I just stumbled across this idea of this kind of interesting new music, so that's where it all comes from—adolescent necessity.
Originally Deadsy had three members, then two more were added, why the decision to add two more? And have you found a replacement for Craig (bass player) who just recently left?
Three people can do it in the studio, but live it takes more to create the sound for the newer songs that are more elaborate and the instrumentation is a little more vast, and it will only be getting more to that effect in the future.
Where do you see Deadsy fitting in with the grand scheme of things? You've toured and played with nu-metal bands but certainly don't sound like any of them.
I don't even acknowledge that term or the bands. I don't care. I care about what we are interested in and I care about us not fitting into the context of any sort of musical scene, I care about us fitting into the context of humanity and the human timeline of events. That's where I am at, so I could care less because it is obviously expendable and it will obviously change in two seconds and be something else that's horrific. It is nothing really of substance.
Even the most popular music over the last 30 years, the majority has been good quality stuff. What made things popular was that it was something of quality that people could get with and nowadays it is just a fuckin' embarrassment. Six years ago we were on the outer rim, now we are on still the outer rim. A long time ago, we happened to have befriended a lot of people who we, or no one, knew were going to be the predominant, most instrumental people in the music world, and now I think their respect is a big help for us, but we had those people's respect over half a decade ago. But our association with those people in no way shape or form shows our endorsement of that scene or whatever. A few of them I respect and the rest of it I don't even care to acknowledge. I mean I listen to Cat Stevens, metal, all the great music from every genre. From the last 30 years to the really old classical music. I just try to put the good stuff in my brain so I don't have any crap contaminating my brain.
When are you guys going to add a DJ or MC to the band?
No, I mean, I get it, but I would rather hear it on an Ice-T record.
Deadsy is often compared to Gary Numan, or described as a bit “retro 80s new wave.” Would you care to classify your music? Is it because that's what you grew up listening to? Personally, that's what drew me to Deadsy when I first heard it-that “new wave” sound.
That is just one element. I heard his use of the synthesizer and felt compelled to expand on that idea. It creates a very mystic sound—a real visual. His use of those space age strings and whatnot. It compliments the guitar we implement very well. So I felt “there's a guy who could have taken what he did to a different level.” So that is just one of the things we borrow from and that is just thus far.
Lately I am leaning to being very influenced by Wendy Carlos. And even 15 years prior to Gary Numan's existence, the dawn of the synth. The sounds that are really trying to emulate an orchestra—they kind of do it, but you get this orchestral kind of sound mixed with this crazy thing that is its own instrument, which is the beauty of the synth. I think we do a good job at mimicking certain people's things and combining it into this thing that is itself, but the ultimate goal for us is to establish our vocabulary of sounds that are in and of themselves, completely ours that we created in the vacuum or whatever you want to call it.
Seems that style of music is making a comeback. Is it because all of us children from the 80s are now 25-30 years old, wanting to relive our youth?
I just look at music that I heard that I like; the era is not so pertinent to me. The stuff may be like 70s 80s but then the guitar comes in and it is like Morbid Angel. So I guess people miss that, they don't see how heavy it is.
A lot of it is the guitar, the guitar is the number one most important instrument in the band, period. Without the guitar there is nothing—no Deadsy. It is all about the guitar tone as the initial context and then you start dropping in different layers and different time periods, so that you have this crazy time machine. I'll continue to go back to other artists like Bowie and Brian Eno—people who had a lot a lot of different eras of what style of music they were doing, but there was continuity between the eras of them being ahead of their time and being extremely experimental and brave in going in the direction they went—how on the outer rim and how against the grain they were going. That's where I am coming from. I respect all those people and I try to emulate that idea of craftsmanship and going as against the grain as I can.
You also seem more concept-based than a lot of other bands out there today. Is that the desire to “teach” the listeners things, or is it just a reflection of your personality? Or both? Do you think it is easier to just go out and make angry frat-boy rock like a lot of the bands today?
The education is the byproduct, but the ultimate reason is because things are always more interesting when you place them inside of a context, because there is more of a purpose. I think if people would just get with the program, that is the next wave of music—shit that is just radically high concept, because then it has a sense of purpose and continuity with all of its works.
I like shit that is way more cartoonish and doesn't take itself that seriously like Slipknot even. The idea that that exists—I am a fan of that. I am a fan of people taking something and putting it inside of a context that has boundaries and iconography, because that's what I am a fan of throughout history, people who have decided to set up boundaries, take an oath, what have you. From the Free Masons to the Knights Templar, that's what I am a fan of so I don't see why art or rock music should be any different, for me at least.
Five of the songs on Commencement are over six years old; another six are over four years old. How do you feel about those 11 songs that were originally slated to be on the older CDs holding up over the years and still being strong enough to release in 2002?
And they are still ahead of the fuckin curve. That's the way we work. I got seven songs now that are brand new, that are meant for the new album, that are no way ready for any ears of this time and age. We have that gift of foresight, and hopefully that will let us have a lengthy career because we will always be able to foresee. That's the pixie dust of this band.
In my eyes, I don't really give a shit about those old songs. I mean I care, but I am always thinking about the next song because I feel at this point I started something that is like a monster that I created that is bigger than me that I constantly have to feed, like Little Shop of Horrors or something. I am already writing the next record intensely. So now we are starting the official getting out of the gate, so as much as there is the back story, I feel this is the official start so therefore I am thinking of the next move and trying to make a timeline in my head of how I see the events unfolding for this band, because I would like the actual sequence of events of this band to be a kind of work of art in themselves too, as well as the content of each event. The sequence is its own kind of art evolution. I am an art guy, so to me, this band is the ultimate art project. It is all the things I have always liked and it seems the outputs are endless for everything I have ever wanted to do I can put through this project. I mean music is another branch of art.
You aren't shy about admitting to growing up privileged. How has that affected the evolution of Deadsy?
I'll tell you this, growing up privileged definitely doesn't lend any credibility to your existence, so you better have something that is special to attract people into your life.
Do you feel this privilege carried over into the music industry? You have been linked with so many other musicians over the years Coal Chamber, Korn, Sugar Ray, Orgy, Duran Duran etc., Is this based on the relationships with these important people or because of the belief in you as a musician, or both?
I didn't know any of those people until I had Deadsy for at least one and a half or two years. So that is in the pudding, the fact that obviously those people saw that something we were doing was warranting respect.
Everything is in your control. It is up to you how long you want to stay around. If you fall out, it is your fault. I have total confidence in what I do and the strategies therein. Staying around is just a big.
Previous to having the opening slot of Family Values Tour 2001. I think it is safe to say that Mp3 technology, Napster, CD burning, eBay and the Internet have contributed greatly to getting your sound out to the masses when the previous releases fell through. How do you feel about all that? A lot of artists are against it, but it clearly helped Deadsy.
It is the context of the artist's reality whether it is going to help them or be detrimental. In our context it was something that was obviously very helpful. Rather than bitch about the fact that I am not receiving the profit, I like the idea that it sets a certain precedent and criteria. I would rather have a reaction from a person, its an eyebrow raiser where I would forfeit the royalty, I understand Metallica bitching about their shit, but my philosophy is that a lot of those people who are downloading and trading those Mp3s is that they are going to buy the record, because to buy the record is to be officially involved with the institution of the band, you don't want to miss the boat and be left out, you want to be in the club.
Being an opening act for Static X and Family Values Tour, is it difficult picking only six or seven songs out of what you have to play live?
No, I'd rather do that because we can always play a different six or seven songs, because we have so many songs to play. But I also like to just hit people hard and just bailing.
Whose idea was it to use “street teams” for spreading the word on Deadsy? Was it successful? Will it continue?
I think meeting fans is important to an extent. But there always has to be some separation because you are making this "out there" art project and obviously people are going to construe it very, very literally and to the point where people's minds just get...I don't know what happens, weird shit happens. So I think there needs to be a fine line of endearment and boundaries.
I just thought, “Let's involve our fans, let's be one of the first bands to have structure and discipline.” And I hope it gets more structured and disciplined as time progresses, where there are like, tiers to fandom as there are tiers in an army. I think that is the goal and the framework is there now, but we hope to take it to unprecedented heights.
I don't see that much of a distinction between entertainment power or political power, whatever, just influence, so I think if you have people out there that represent the band and the band's message. Then I think that is more power than just the band's sole influence over fans or whatever. It has to be more complex than anything that has ever been done—more thorough and really reaches people and has legions that are also part of the influence as much as the band is. The more shit you do, the higher you get. It is all about incentive. I think it's our role to be the Free Masons of rock.
You seem to do a lot of covers. How do you choose them?
(I compiled a list of covers for the readers)
- Brand New Love-Sebadoh
- Crimson & Clover (with Cher)-Tommy James and the Shondells
- Just Like Heaven-The Cure
- Tom Sawyer-Rush
- Texas Never Whispers-Pavement
- Fox on the Run-Sweet
- Teenage Wildlife- David Bowie
- Replicas-Gary Numan
- Theme from Dune
The idea of a cover is also to place our radically different sound in a familiar context, which is a good psychological way to make people understand the music a little bit better. If I can expound on the severity of the song, even songs that don't know how severe they are, like some 60s or 70s folk songs. I'll hear songs and then just picture our version of it, like our arrangements and the way we would do it and think, “That's nice.” Obviously, something like Tom Sawyer is inherently arranged to fit in all of our musical dogmas, so that was a no-brainer to do that. That to me it is the cover of all covers.
I think if you are going to step to that you are commanding something. The act of doing it was powerful and the result is something that is good as well. It has been one of my favorite songs since I was a young lad back in school, even before Deadsy, me and Renn talked about doing it. So it is nice to do stuff that you had the idea for 12 years earlier, it keeps you in touch with the seeds of the project, even before that. I want to keep that with me as we grow and evolve.
What about covering Crimson and Clover with your mom?
That was a favor I did for someone and I don't acknowledge it as my own. I never even heard it. I'll never listen to it. I'll acknowledge the original and the Joan Jett version.
What bands are you digging right now?
I like the Strokes a bit because of the idea of arrogant rich kids taking over rock, I am a fan of the attitude and I like the music too.
I change every day, and I am starting to go back farther and farther. Cat Stevens is one of my all time favorites.
I listen to people who tap into a certain frequency. The problem nowadays is that people are so concerned with getting over the frequency thing and get on their own level and really penetrate someone's heart/mind/soul/whatever, or try to say something that's interesting or come from an interesting angle is completely lost, so that's why I am always going back to the essentials—Simon and Garfunkel—just great America songs and great folk songs.
But I take that and combine it with the severity of the other end of the spectrum. I listen to a lot of brutal severe death metal; I was kind of raised on a little bit of both. I am obviously into Zepplin, I keep all that stuff in my head because that is great music and I want to keep that with my crazy dissident art mind and I think that is the melting pot, or the reactor where it is kind of forged.
I am more concerned with listening to my CD collection rather than finding new stuff. I like Air, I like the stuff that is experimental and going into unchartered territories. I like Daft Punk—stuff that is on the outer rim and breaks through and makes the pop world conform around them. I have no respect for people who feel they have to adhere to some pop standards in hopes to achieve their career. Its like “Fuck your career!”
Unless you are making any contributions, your career is worthless and you'll probably spend all your money pretty soon any way. I really loathe that because I think it is so about craftsmanship, and that is lost because people are so desperate. A lot of it is the record labels. Because say a kid is going to get signed and be the next Jane's Addiction. The record labels are going to brow beat them with a producer and whatever magic they had is going to be lost. So we could have heard all these bands with all this genuine talent or whatever, but the record labels are so scared and such bitches, that they are gong to make the kids conform to the thing that they want. It is a nightmare, but that's their problem. But the worst part is they are fucking the consumers. And that's the thing I feel proud about—you are going to spend the money on our record and get your money's worth, you are going come see us live, you are going to get your money's worth. And on that simple consumer level, I feel we are doing our part.
Music today is horrible, which is why when you hear us you are like “Fuck!” Maybe it isn't because we are that good, but it is something that is at least a little bit different than what is going on. Obviously there aren't going to be any more Whos or Zepplins or Beatles. That's done, so why don't we just exist in this strange limbo of the high concept of weird art project bands. That's what I feel like we are—maybe we are ushering that next age. There is still this weird kind of unsureness, but at least we are going to go out and it is going to be an ordeal, and it is going to be a saga kind of a situation. And you are going to feel some intensity and there is going to be some shit you can read about, it is really going to kind of sum up humanity.
This is kind of the roundup, this age we are living in right now. So I think it is kind of nice that we have the five different entities in the band, to where we can translate and sum up humanity through various albums. After this album they are going to be super high-concept. This one isn't really concept, not a culmination of songs written together to serve one purpose. They were written over half a decade to show the idea of this new kind of sonic severity. And it is going to get more severe and more of an actual instrument of learning.
The people in this band like to make music that summons a massive hurricane—the sonic hurricane.
If you are a rock star out there, you kind of have the responsibility of being all these kids throughout the country's big brother or whatever. And you can do whatever you want with that and I think that is your responsibility through the ages, that, as you get older, to teach the younger people things that you were taught. So you are initially attracting people's attention, but you follow up with a lot of insight and information. But I don't think this music is just for the 12-19 year-old demographic that buys nu metal CDs, I think this obviously music that touches on sophistication and it appeals to older people.
What can we expect from that and from Deadsy in the future? Any collaborations with other artists you can mention?
I'd like to bring back the duet, but in the context of undercore. So I'll be on the lookout for a woman. I like the emotional and the heaviness of my favorite duets. I think it hasn't been done a lot and I have a certain way that I foresee doing it so I am excited about a chance to do that. It's just about finding the right female vocalist.
Who do you think is the hottest chick out right now?
Kylie Minogue—straight up
She's all over the mags in Europe, no one is feeling her in the U.S.
Cuz no one knows what's up. Who else? There's that one girl, Tatiana Zaviolova, she is that Victoria Secret model, forget about it. I am in love with her. Kylie Minogue is unbelievable.
She was hot even back in her Locomotion days.
Yeah, but she's hotter now though, she was only 17 or 18 back then.
Did you see Tiffany in Playboy?
I'm feeling that, I'll check it out. Debbie Gibson should do it.
She has that fucked up nose though.
So what? Look at her body.
I was always a bigger Debbie Gibson fan than Tiffany.
Me too, Out of the Blue is my fuckin jam.
I remember putting Debbie Gibson songs on mix tapes for girls in like, sixth grade.
I am a fan of good bubble gum. I like the stuff that's good that is of that kind of expendable nature.