deadboy & the Elephantman
As a child growing up in Evansville, Indiana, Dax Riggs
looked forward to the weekends. His parents were divorced,
and Dax lived with his mother, a Jehovah’s Witness.
Every Saturday Dax headed out with his mother and the
rest of the congregation to neighborhoods further and
further away to spread the good Word. Dax had the routine
'Hello, we’re visiting your neighborhood and
we’d like to share some info with you about Armageddon.
May I come in for a moment?'
Dax’s crusading days were cut short at the age
of ten, when he stayed up and watched 'The Elephant
Man' on HBO.
'Oh, it was really crazy. Up until that moment I believed
God was good. My world was turned upside upside-down.
I was like, okay, I now know God is bad. I started having
all these nightmares that continued for years and years
of being chased, and haunted by the Elephant Man.'
No longer comfortable in the home of a Jehovah’s
Witness, Dax went to live with his more liberal father.
Dax was twelve when his father, lured by the oil boom
of the early 1980’s, moved to Houma, Louisiana.
Shortly after arriving in Houma, Dax’s father
secured work as a cook on an oil platform in the Gulf
and boarded a small boat for the forty-mile journey.
Dax did his best to adjust.
'I couldn’t understand what the fuck anybody
was saying. I couldn’t even go into Popeye’s
and order without pointing. I’m still not that
good at it.'
Dax found Oak Lawn Terrebonne Parish High School even
more difficult than ordering at Popeye’s and flunked
the seventh grade. He was allowed to enter the eighth
on the condition that he passed all courses with a C
or better. But halfway through he quit school for good
and moved to Florida with a girl.
'Yeah, we just took off to Florida. I was thirteen,
she was older. Dropped a lot of acid. Do we have to
go into this?' With school out of the way, Dax focused
his attention on songwriting. Unfortunately, the relationship
didn’t last and Dax returned home.
Back in Houma, Dax and three other likeminded friends
started the Heavy Metal group Acid Bath. They played
anywhere they could around Thibodaux, New Orleans and
Houma. They spent the winter of ‘98 headquartered
in an old theater in Morgan City that had even tried
screening porn before closing down. It still had electricity
and a stage to practice on. When they couldn’t
find the warm bed of schoolgirls whose parents were
out of town, Dax and Mike Sanchez, the lead guitarist,
retired to their half of the balcony. Acid Bath signed
to the indie label Rotten Records. Of the four tours
booked, Acid Bath only completed one.
Plagued by poor communication, drug addiction, and
ultimately the death of Audie Pitre, the bass player,
Acid Bath called it quits. During their brief existence,
Acid Bath sold over 100,000 copies and remains a seminal
influence today. You might even remember the deceiving,
harmless-happy-clown artwork created by none other than
John Wayne Gacy., the Boy Scout scourge. Hey Teacher
leaves those kids alone.
By 2000, Dax had outgrown heavy metal and began teaching
himself guitar and piano, and started playing out under
the name deadboy & the Elephantmen. We all know
where he got the 'The Elephant Men.' ''Dead Boy,' that’s
just me being negative.' He went on to spend the next
four years auditioning musicians before hooking up with
At twenty-three, she’s just five years younger
than Dax , and with a two-tone star tattooed on her
left ear she looks a hell of a lot better. And no, they
aren’t siblings, they never been married, haven’t
even messed around. Unlike Dax, she comes with no baggage,
just really good taste. Tessie is a wandering spirit
in her own right, both literally – she hails from
the New Orleans Adoption Agency -- and figuratively.
She began singing in 2003 and has only been drumming
for a year. Tessie was home visiting her adopted parents
in 2004 when, on lark, she played a gig with Dax. It
went well, and after hard negotiating and a lot of soul
searching Tessie decided to turn her back on the life
she was leading in NYC to move back home, which meant
having to mow the yard, among other indignities, and
giving deadboy & the Elephantmen all she had. Tessie’s
official responsibilities are drums and backing vocals
in addition to handling a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff,
if you know what I mean. “And unlike some people
in the band, I don’t go to the gas station and
put two fucking lousy dollars’ worth in the van.”
Around the office, we like to think of Dax as the heart
and Tessie as the brains of Dead Boy and Elephant Men.
Though primarily a duo, Dax and Tessie don’t
hesitate to call in others when needed. The songs featured
on We Are Night Sky were written and recorded by Dax
in Houma, with the exception of tracks 1,4, 6 and 12,
which were recorded at our studio in Water Valley and
tracks 3 & 7 at other studios in Houma.