P. Exeter Blue is taken with 70-foot spoons, prep-school garb, and run-on sentences. But perhaps it's only fitting that the Deadsy frontman name-drops Claes Oldenburg (the famed pop artist who created enormous, larger-than-life spectacles out of everyday objects), dresses in rich-kid regalia, and has the tendency to speak in rivers of words. The gregarious offspring of Cher and Gregg Allman is a lot like an overambitious, overexcited 13-year-old who's just read some H.G. Wells and is intent on building his own time machine.
"The magic of the feelings you had when you were a child and how unfettered you were, if you draw from that, I think that's a really powerful thing," says Blue (known formally as Elijah Blue Allman). "Obviously, that's what Star Wars is made from, and a lot of the great art that I appreciate is from people's inner child coming out."
Blue's inner adolescent is palpable on Deadsy's recently released debut, the grand, monolithic Commencement. An aggressive mining of all the decadence and artifice of '80s new wave with frothing death metal guitars, keyboards as gaudy as Brian Eno's stage wear, and affected vocals that sound as if Blue spent his formative years in Manchester rather than Maine, Commencement takes its cues from both Gary Numan and Napalm Death. It's all draped in an elaborate, self-created mythology, in which each of the five band members embodies a different aesthetic: Keyboardist Dr. Nner represents science and medicine, drummer Alec Püre stands for leisure, synth guitarist Carlton Megalodon is war, bassist Creature is horror, and Exeter, unsurprisingly, personifies academia.
"As far as everyone's entity, I take mine very seriously," Blue says. "I've always been a real scholar, and I've always been a real intense studier. I'm an avid reader of all things, an avid historian."
Blue's words make it easy to read too deeply into Deadsy's heady backstory and natty schoolboy attire, but such embellishments aren't really meant to serve as social commentary or class critique; they're more a means for the band members to remind themselves of their youth and tap into all the wide-eyed wonder of childhood. When you're a kid, the world is unbounded, and few of life's not-so-pleasant realities -- gas bills, mortgages, the BMV -- have yet to spoil the party. This absence of limitation is, more than anything else, what drives Deadsy.
"It's not about trying to go above people's heads and look smart," Blue says. "It's about trying to communicate something to people and trying to raise the bar of what they can understand. If it's a book or a band or whatever, you're trying to make it so that the person has just a little bit more heart/mind capacities than they did before."
To this end, Commencement will surely succeed in broadening the vocabulary of the average listener -- hey, we learned what a Hittite was -- though the record's verbosity hasn't been without its costs. Commencement has been plagued by well-documented delays, as labels have struggled to figure out how to sell such a loquacious disc. Originally signed to Sire in '96, Deadsy completed the album more than five years ago.
"Basically, we got the record deal when we shouldn't have -- we were all 19," Blue says. "I got it out of desperation. I got kicked out of the house, and I was like 'Fuck it, I'll go get a record deal.' So it kind of happened out of necessity, in a sense, and a lot of the delays were just because I didn't know how to handle my business that well. Also, Sire was going through some problems in leaving Elektra. Every bad thing that could happen did happen."
Still, the band did have enough good fortune to catch the ear of Korn's Jonathan Davis, who eventually signed Deadsy to Korn's Elementree Records. In the interim, the band compiled an abundance of material for its second album, which promises to be even more expansive than Commencement.
"One of the things that we want to do is make a record at either a university or several universities over a period of anywhere from six months to two, three semesters and just use the idea of a university as this fountainhead of knowledge to pump into a record as far as utilizing courses, students, music facilities, everything," says Blue, whose own education included a stint at a school in Maine that specializes in problem kids. "I think that would be a magical thing that no one's ever done. It'd be such fun. So I plan on going back to school, but using it as a concept for making an opus."
It's hard to imagine Deadsy aspiring to anything less than an opus. Guided by Blue's unflappable ambition -- no doubt a by-product of having the bold, bawdy Cher for a mom and the uncompromising Allman for a dad -- Deadsy is out to relive the days when giants like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were considered both populist and progressive. In a time when much of modern rock sounds like a tear-stained diary fed through a Marshall stack, Deadsy pointedly cultivates an air of mystery about itself and clearly enjoys being lyrically opaque. But at the same time, the band wants to rock the kid in the Camaro as much as the one in the classroom. It's a tough balancing act, but Blue seems to enjoy the uncertainty that comes with it.
"It's all about taking risks in life," he says. "Those people who can sit back and say they're too lofty, it's like, what are they going to do? There's people who make this fuckin' earth go 'round, and then there's the people who sit back and comment on it. You gotta go out there and dare. You gotta shoot high."
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