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Graduation Day 

Deadsy scrolls for life beneath rock

Wednesday, Jun 5 2002
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You want glitz? Need gore? Got a jones for Urantia girls and Hittites and words like betwixt? Mind-bending eclecticism is just part of the Deadsy puzzle. While front man P. Exeter Blue I, a.k.a. Elijah Blue, doesn’t shed much light on these confused messages, the cogent force with which he backs them will at least make you think he has. Indeed, Deadsy has been charged with ushering in a new musical epoch -- though just what that means, well, the band is vague about that, too. Says Blue, ”We‘re just the gatekeepers.“

It’s a fact: Ninety-nine point nine percent of musicians get dumped into the record-industry meat grinder and pooped out again. In Deadsy‘s case, their travails qualify them for authentic martyrdom. The band (Carlton Megalodon on G-synth; Alec Pure, drums; Creature, bass; Dr. Nner, keyboards; and Blue, guitarvocals) and their sole recording, Commencement, bounced around between no fewer than four major labels over a period of six years before finally ending up at DreamWorks in late Y2K. ”It seems the powers-to-be don’t want this record to come out!“ Blue bellowed back in December 2000 onstage at the Whisky.

Now that Commencement has officially hit the streets, Blue can afford to be expansive. ”In no way do I think that the band is cursed. I don‘t view my life that way. Even my worst day is pretty good. During all that time [when the album was shelved], I was traveling in Europe, studying -- my life has been good. I think people weren’t ready for us anyway. I don‘t mean it was over their heads, but just that they wouldn’t have been used to it. Look at people‘s attention spans, getting smaller and smaller. It used to be bands created a world inside their music. Look at how Led Zeppelin were inspired by Tolkien. A truly progressive rock just doesn’t exist anymore. We‘re gonna change that.“

Like no synth-pop bubble gum you’ve ever heard, Commencement‘s plastic vibe belies its prog ambitions. A fuzzed-out propulsive low-end threading through the songs makes them more rock than dance. (However, techno duo DeepSky recently did an excellent remix of ”Mansion World,“ Commencement’s second single.) Similarly, Blue‘s Lurch-deep monotone suffuses the album with a wry cabaret gloom.

”When I wrote early material, I was listening to Rick Wakeman and Wendy Carlos -- people who just went at their chosen instruments with as much virtuosic energy as possible, as opposed to a guy standing around with blue eye shadow. The synth-pop thing is just one phase in our mission. Right now I’m into different singer-songwriters. But it doesn‘t matter whether I’m listening to Cat Stevens, Giorgio Moroder or death-metal -- it comes out Deadsy.“

The album‘s opening track and Fred Durst--directed video ”The Key to Gramercy Park“ is a ferocious anthem-allegory with Korn’s Jonathan Davis doing backup vocals. Gooey, evil and flashy all at once, the tune perfectly embodies Commencement‘s guilty pleasures. ”Jonathan’s vocals were a little gratuitous,“ says Blue, ”but I think it‘s one of the better collaborations I’ve seen him do.“ ”The Key to Gramercy Park“ is also the tune that name-checks the Hittites, ancient people of the Fertile Crescent. ”They occupied what is now northern Israel and parts of Syria,“ he offers. ”They were one of the rivals of the ancient Egyptians.“

Having benefited from a classical education at Phillips-Exeter, Blue aims to make good use of it. ”I‘m really into scholastics, and I want to show that we’re not just talking a bunch of fantasy nonsense but that the music has a grounding in sanctioned institutions.“ He bristles at the suggestion that the boarding-school iconography they glorify in their dress, cover art and lyrical content has anything to do with WASP privilege. ”That‘s more my thing than anyone else’s in the band. It‘s way too easy to read into what we’re doing, and I hate it when people take our imagery at face value. We‘re not serious to the point of not having a sense of humor, because humor is one of the greatest tools you can have. The way I like to think about it, Deadsy is just one big art project.“

It’s a tad ironic that Blue, the offspring of Cher and Gregg Allman, has experienced Job-like adversity in getting hooked up labelwise. Is it divine justice? A cosmic joke? ”Who my family is has nothing to do with us,“ he says. ”We‘ve gotten to this point on our own, completely earning it. If other people want to think otherwise, that’s something they carry around with them, and I‘m totally uninterested in that. If anything, all the delay of the album’s release is vindicating -- it just proves how much bigger this whole thing is than we are.“

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