Ozzfest, the light at the end of the tunnel is - The DeadLights!
by Debbie Seagle
In our quest
to bring you news from the Ozzfest front, we caught up with second stage
act "The DeadLights" in Arizona, shortly before the start of Ozzfest
2000. Their self titled debut is a unique combination of compelling
lyrics, heavy crackling guitars and driving rhythms that sometimes take
a twist in uncharacteristic directions. Their name was influenced
by a Stephen King novel, signifying the name of the lights at the end of
the tunnel after a near death experience, but their vibe is no death march.
Suffice to say that it packs enough adrenaline to RAISE the dead!
It can be viscous or it can be eerie, but its the kind of stuff that Ozzfest
dreams are made of and that has bought them a ticket to see the wizard.
Lets get with lead singer Duke to see what's the haps:
Seagle for) Rock N World: The reason I wanted to talk to you
today is because I think everybody in the rock and metal world of music
is really getting kind of excited about Ozzfest 2000.
RNW: And you landed a slot
on the tour, you lucky dog.
RNW: So I want to talk to
you about that and how that came about and what have you, but first, I
wanted to talk a little bit about your self titled CD.
RNW: The CD has been getting
nods from the fans for the musicianship and the live performances go way
beyond that in your energy and your bandís really dark, heavy, crunchy
kind of sound. I love it, I think its a kickin CD.
Duke: Thank you.
RNW: Real good mix of different
kinds of stuff, moods and emotions in the songs.
Duke: Well, weíre trying to
keep it pretty eclectic with all that kind of stuff because I think one
of the keys to longevity is being able to change things up a little bit
as you go. And with this band, weíve got our heavy side, which is
the main side of us, but thereís also different facets, different ways
we can express ourselves.
RNW: Like with "Falling Down?"
Duke: Yeah! We actually
had opportunities lately to play that like, live on the radio and stuff.
Weíve been doing a lot of it and a few other songs acoustically too and
its really cool. You know we werenít, we didnít intend on putting
an acoustic song on the record, but in pre-production weíd sit around and
jam our acoustics and warm up our voices and stuff like that. And
we were sitting around during our stuff one day in pre-production, we did
like three or four acoustic songs and Sylvia Matthews was there watching
us do it and she was like, man why donít you try an acoustic song on the
RNW: Thatís one of my favorites.
That song is just so totally in the groove. I was playing your CD
one day, just kind of going over it and getting a feel for it and when
it got to that song Iím like, Iím storming around the house "Who changed
the damn CD?" (laughing)
RNW: Who took my CD out?
Iím listening to that! Then I looked
and said okay, thatís the DeadLights, all right. It was different
but I really liked it. To me it had almost a marine feel to it.
Duke: Yeah, its like a lot
of different things with that song, but its supposed to be like an acceptance
of tragedy. It doesnít directly refer to it, but I was kind of thinking
of people who get really screwed in life. Like, lets say people who
get AIDS or people who have people die, stuff like that. And its
just like an acceptance of all the bad things that can happen to you in
life. Thatís kind of why I said "We All Fall Down." To me it
doesnít matter. Everyoneís got this negative story and I donít really
hold too much importance in this life, you know. And everybodyís
got such sad things going on, you know? Its just kind of like an
acceptance of negativity I guess.
RNW: But isnít it ironic that
I donít get a negative or a tragic feeling at all from the music?
Without listening to the lyrics . . . when I hear the music, I feel like
rolling waves and being out on the open ocean.
Duke: Well, see, thatís a
common theme amongst all the songs. I tried to sink in all the darker
side of it by making some of the music really uplifting like "Sweet Oblivion"
for instance. Like the music is kind of like an uplifting kind of
happy type song, but the song itself is about a love affair with death.
About a person who is so fed up with life that heís fallen in love with
death as a personified being. And his only way of proving his love
for death is by killing himself. So its like, "Meet me in the bathroom
and Iíll show you everything." Its kind of like, Iíll give you my
ultimate token of my affection when I go in the bathroom and I slice my
wrists to be with you. So its like making a love song out of a love
affair with death. Its almost like a sick idea when you think about
it, but people listening to that go wow, it seems kind of happy and its
uplifting but its about death!
RNW: Yeah, and the vocals
are all different too on the tracks. I notice that you do a little
bit of that primal stuff in there. I'm really exploring that now.
Duke: Yeah, screaming?
RNW: A-huh. And I often
wonder, when you are a song writer and you are working on a piece, how
do you decide when the time is really right for something like that - when
you really want to accentuate a part in a song. How do you decide
when thatís the right presentation of it, rather than a quiet vocal?
I think a lot of it is really reactionary. When you are a vocalist,
you will hear a certain sound or melody and its how you react to it.
Like it will trigger it. Like with me, if Iím with something soft,
something mellow, Iíll react to it with a soft, mellow melody and if its
something really heavy that kind of pounds you, then Iíll get all caught
up in that and start screaming. So its really reactionary.
RNW: So you are reacting more
to the music than the lyrics?
Duke: Exactly. The lyrics
just kind of come. Usually the lyrics come after the song is already
laid down. So I kind of let the mood of the song carry me along.
Some of the lyrics Iíve had sitting around, I fit it in like puzzle pieces,
but I think the best ones are ones when Iím just, you know, just come up
with it on the spot like, its almost like brain storming. Then you
get your truest ideas when you just let it all flow.
RNW: And everybody has a different
way they like to do that. Some do lyrics first and some, you know,
bring in a riff and work them into a piece of music or whatever, but its
really interesting the way the lyrics would spark what you sing in a specific
way. The songs on your CD are all extremely emotional and I imagine
they are tied to some personal experiences, maybe they are maybe theyíre
not. Maybe just things youíve wondered about or what have you, but
now that things are going so well for you and youíve gotten all the exposure
with your Ozzfest tour and youíve done tours with Megadeth and Coal Chamber
and your fan base is building, it just kind of seems like everything is
going really well for the DeadLights right now. Do you think that
youíre going to find it a little more difficult, say with your next project,
to write about things like the apocalypse and suicide?
Duke: Well, I mean, Iím such
a pessimist, I donít know. When things are going well for me, thatís
when I think theyíre at their worst almost, you know? Iím always
looking at how things can fall apart. Iím never really looking at
how things are going to stay together and I donít know if thatís like a
blessing or a curse, but I donít know. Its not really possible for
me to get too happy about stuff.
RNW: Really? Come on.
Duke: Yeah, really, really!
I donít know why. Maybe its because of all the horror movies I watched
as a child.
RNW: Oh, so youíre the Stephen
King fan, is that it?
Duke: Yeah I am, actually.
Iím a really big fan of his books, but Iím not a big fan of his movies.
RNW: So you like to read?
Duke: Yeah, I like to read
but I think a lot of his movies are just
made to cheesily, like when you read the books theyíre so amazing and I
feel almost like I know Stephen King just because of his prose, his really
conversational type way of writing. Iím not really a big fan of the
movies. I donít think movies can really accurately portray the books
are. Thereís just not enough time in a movie to make a good movie
out of a book, you know?
RNW: Yeah, you could say that
about an awful lot of good books. It is really difficult to turn
it into something thatís an hour and a half, two hour movie.
I wanted to ask you about the art work
on the CD. Youíve got some very interesting art work on there.
Whoís got the thing for teeth, first of all?
Duke: Thatís just like, I
thought it was cool. What that is, its like a color chart for teeth
from a dental thing. It just kind of made me think of how people
are almost manufactured in todayís society and how people can recreate
themselves and cut themselves apart to fit into whatever kind of image
they want. Its kind of cool when you think about it like, to me its
almost like, I know its just a color chart for teeth but it kind of looks
like reserve body parts or something like that, you know? You can
just go in and pick up new teeth or you can go in and get your breasts
augmented or something like that. And the cover is like a baby face
but kind of ghostly and the colors of the moon. So I wanted to keep
a theme that was almost suggestive of abortion, dead fetuses, things like
that because that was kind of the idea behind the conception of the band
in a lot of things. Its almost like a fetus that was meant to be
aborted but somehow survived and it just kind of went from there with that
kind of outlook on life.
RNW: Wow, that is dark.
Now is that, opening up the CD, youíve got the dollís head, this picture
really creeps me out, I have to say. This is like totally, Stephen
King, make the hair stand up on the back of your neck type of stuff.
The doll head with the hose sticking out of its mouth? How did you
come up with that?
Duke: We had a really cool
photographer, this girl named Jana Leon and we just kind of talked to her
about what I was just saying. Like the fetuses, aborted babies, body
parts and stuff like that. It was almost like the face of the baby
getting sustenance from this weird tube-like thing. Its just imagery
that really worked. And then a few of the ideas are just images that
Jana came up with. I mean working with her was really cool.
Sheís got a really creepy mindset, just like we do (laughs).
RNW: So, have you worked on
any more songs? Is there a new project starting up?
Duke: Well, right now weíve
got a lot of touring planned for us, but Iím always working on songs.
Weíve got a lot of old material too, that we wanted to put on this record
but we didnít because it was, the timing wasnít right for it or whatever,
but the next record is going to be a pretty intense thing. Its going
to stretch the boundaries even more than what weíve already done.
Weíre going to songs that are heavier, songs that are more melodic.
So, I just want to constantly expand and constantly get bigger. And
thereíll be like a twist, you know? The whole sound will be altered
just a little bit and its going to be like that every record.
RNW: Are you going to experiment
with different instruments and stuff?
Duke: Oh yeah, see, I donít
want to keep rewriting the same record. Weíre going to try as a band
to change that as much as we can.
RNW: What about vocals?
Anything different planned for vocals?
Duke: Um, you know, like I
said, its all reactionary. Its going to, I think just the more I
use my voice, it gets a little better.Continue