Blue Man’s Group
Listening to death-metal prog-pop synth-rockers Deadsy, you have to wonder how the group conceived the sonic fusion behind such slammingly catchy numbers as “The Key to Gramercy Park,” in which a prep-school worldview meets Deicide, Rush and Duran Duran.
Or, perhaps, you wonder why they created such a decidedly campy and--to some--annoying hybrid.
But it makes sense when you talk to Deadsy’s frontman, singer-guitarist Phillips Exeter Blue I, better known to his folks as Elijah Blue Allman. Unlike some rock-star offspring, the son of pop diva Cher and Southern-rock icon Gregg Allman doesn’t even vaguely recall his parents’ music. Los Angeles-based Deadsy mixes hypnotic punk-metal guitars with Gary Numan keyboards and elements of such ‘70s progressive-rockers as King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
“I wanted to make the most abstract [stuff] that had nothing to do with what anyone was doing,” Blue, 26, says of Deadsy’s recently released debut album, “Commencement.” His gaze darts around the stuffy lobby of the Hollywood recording studio where he and bassist Creature are mixing the band’s next single. “I’m influenced by the whole idea of creating an alternate reality.”
The tall, brawny, young man says that such a self-created reality is partly escapist. But it also lets the quintet--which also includes synth-guitarist Carlton Megalodon, keyboardist Dr. Nner and drummer Alec Pure--transcend boundaries. “It’s really about being passionate about living,” he says. “Not complaining about how drab it is, but kind of romanticizing it.”
Deadsy’s freaky little horror-show world has taken some hits from critics, and the album has sold just 62,000 copies. But the band is becoming more popular thanks to its presence on Korn leader Johnathan Davis’ DreamWorks-affiliated label Elementree and on tours with Korn, Papa Roach, Static-X and the Family Values festival. But the group waited a long time for “Commencement” to, er, commence.
An album the band completed for Sire Records in 1997 was never officially released, but Deadsy played several high-profile gigs at the Viper Room, the Roxy and the Whisky. Then the initial 1999 release date of “Commencement” was delayed until May of this year (the better, perhaps, to capitalize on the synth-mania fostered by pop music’s current ‘80s jones).
Blue is just relieved that the album is finally out. “There was a hole for something like this,” he insists, “but record labels are very hesitant about things that go against the grain.”
His instinct, on the other hand, is to buck expectations. And that’s clearly a result of his upbringing. “I went off to boarding school at about age 8, and that’s where I stayed,” Blue says. His matter-of-fact tone is not bitter or angry, but it’s easy to imagine that under such circumstances even a privileged kid could feel resentfully removed from his roots.
He still doesn’t have regular contact with his dad, who was divorced from Cher when their son was just 1. “It’s always been really scattered,” Blue says. “But I do wanna see him. I’m just so busy I barely see my mom, who I grew up with. I don’t have time to dip into that can of worms right now.”
Cher has been supportive, attending Deadsy’s shows, but Blue doesn’t know what his father thinks. “I never really even cared to play him any of my music,” he says. “I’m not looking for anyone’s validation.”
Inadvertently, however, Cher provided the impetus for Blue to form Deadsy with some private-school pals when in their late teens. “We got into some sort of a fight, and she kicked me out of the house,” he says. It’s all water under the bridge now, he adds, but that “kind of forced me” to start the band.
Cher’s romantic adventures also had a major impact on young Elijah. “I think I was about 2 years old when my mom was dating Gene Simmons,” says Blue. “So I got to see tons of KISS shows when I was really, really young. I even saw the [filming] of ‘KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park,’ ” the 1978 TV movie starring the costumed rockers. “So a lot of that is ingrained.”
There’s no mistaking KISS’ imprint, but Deadsy is more about occult intellectual abstraction than sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. In addition to having a pseudonym, each band member represents what Blue calls an aspect of humanity--academia, science and medicine, leisure, war and horror.
It all feeds into a complex, nebulous, metaphorical universe fueled by myriad inspirations, including “Dune,” “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” the New Age religious text “Urantia” and occultist Aleister Crowley, among many other things.
“I want to pick up where KISS left off,” Blue says. “We’ve got the smoke and mirrors, but there’s something real under it. It’s about the band members being gatekeepers to this other world, and that other world is what’s really important.”
The players are already working on the next album, which Blue says will expand their intricate mythology. Perhaps, he muses, Deadsy will eventually delve into the psyches of each member (solo albums, anyone?).
And Blue hopes to broaden the legend by branching into other media, including video games, cartoons and so forth. “This thing has its own life,” he says. “It’s bigger than us, and now we kind of have to feed the demon, you know?”