An artist's inspiration can come in many forms. Along with bandmate Tessie Brunet, musician Dax Riggs of Houma, La., has crafted an entire album out of the fear of death.
Riggs and Brunet form Deadboy and the Elephantmen. As a child, Riggs stayed up late one night to watch David Lynch's drama The Elephant Man on TV. Now 28, Riggs says he's still haunted by the story of a gentle, intelligent and yet monstrously deformed man shunned by society.
He relates to the idea of not fitting in. After his parents' divorce, he moved from Evansville, Indiana to Houma to live with his father during the oil boom in the early 1980s. Riggs did his best to adjust, but after failing the seventh grade he dropped out of Oak Lawn Terrebonne Parish High School and has since found his education through other means.
"I would read at school but not what they wanted me to. And then I met some people who wanted to play some music and we ran off, even left the state," he says. "I did come back and tried to go back to school it just didn't work out. And basically I've never had a thought in my head that I should go learn something. So yeah I have a comic book education... it's true."
Drummer Brunet is a soft-spoken, doe-eyed woman of 23 who moved to Houma as a child. She was adopted as a 3-year-old by a family there and now finds the quaint little fishing town too suffocating. "It's just like your typical strip mall," she says. "The place to be on a Friday night is the Olive Garden and an hour and a half wait to have dinner. That's what people do around here."
And Houma has other limitations even more chafing to a young musician:
"There's no music scene there, there's no place to play," Brunet says. "There are a couple of bars and they love cover bands. They want to sing songs that they hear on the radio."
Brunet met Riggs about a year ago, when she was home for what she thought was a stay of just a couple of weeks. A year later they've put out their first album, We Are Night Sky, on Fat Possum Records. And they're slowly making their way across the country on their first tour.