Featured Music: Wednesday, September 05, 2002
Kick Outthe Jams

Dead Sexy makescontempo-punk out of garage-rock sludge.


If you only know the band Dead Sexy from having heard their debut c.d. And now you know..., then seeing them live can be a bit of a shock. For one thing, New Orleans-born frontman Kevin Pearce looks like he’s about 12 years old. For another, the sonic allusions to glam and T-Rex that pop up all over the c.d. aren’t as evident, unless you count the scarf sported by guitarist Jeremy Diaz (a.k.a. Jesus De La Cruz). Rather, the band specializes in full-on, high-energy rock, the kind that emanated from Detroit circa ’68-’70, or Sydney, Australia, in the ’80s.

Fans and other bands have been taking note, and this week, Dead Sexy advances another step toward the big leagues of Texas punk rock ’n’ roll, opening shows in Denton and Dallas on a bill that also includes Austin stalwarts the Sons of Hercules and Dallas’ like-minded Sunday Drunks.

At Bar of Soap in Dallas last month, Pearce and Diaz pulled out the full bag of MC5 tricks, preaching to the crowd, raising their guitars in the air, and doing backbends, even leading the band through a cover of the Five’s “Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa.” New bassist Chris Caldwell bounced around the tiny stage, occasionally moving away from the door to let patrons in or out, while drummer Rob Sexi pummeled the skins mercilessly and kept the set moving at a relentless pace, counting off each new song before the waves of feedback from the previous one subsided. All in all, these boys project the same level of excitement as a band like the Mooney Suzuki, but their act seems a lot less contrived than the Noo Yawk garage monsters’. “I come from a school where every second on stage in front of people is precious,” said Diaz. “You need to keep people interested in what you’re doing.”

After meeting as teenagers in Houston, Pearce and Diaz hooked up in Fort Worth. They recorded a single, “Dead Sexy Girl,” on one of Pearce’s early visits to Fort Worth. “I was trying to work him into it for a while,” recalled Diaz, sitting in the Bar of Soap beer garden with Pearce before the show. “I played with the Riverboat Gamblers for a while, and then I had the Homewreckers [with bassist Jen Tran]. I recorded ‘Metallic Blue’ on my own with a drum machine and another friend of mine ... a really raw blueprint of what I wanted to do.” Pearce chimed in: “Of course, the original idea kind of went south of heaven once we all got together.” Diaz pulled Tran and Sexi into the project, and even enlisted Sexi’s Lucy Loves Schroeder bandmate, Sara Radle, to sing lead on the released version of “Metallic Blue.”

Pearce, Diaz, and Sexi initially set up house in Como, near the Ridglea Theater. Their house became a gathering place for other bands, and the bandmembers still crack each other up with tales of their neighbor who used to keep them supplied with food and ... other substances. Since then, the band has relocated to Denton, partly to save money, partly to escape the rock ’n’ roll chaos of their Como lifestyle. The product of that turbulent period (and a lot of Jack Daniels), And now you know..., was originally intended solely as a demo to help the band get bookings. They were surprised when teen-age End Records impresario Jonathan Gill elected to re-release it. Missing from the re-release is a cover of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love.” “I changed the words ‘Harry, Mark, and John’ to ‘Jeremy, Jen, Kevin, and Rob,’” explained Pearce. “[Reed] didn’t take too kindly to that.”

Recently, outside commitments forced bassist Tran to leave the band following a show at the Ridglea Theater with the Supersuckers. Her replacement, Caldwell, previously played guitar with surf-rock band the Flipouts. “What I want to do now is record,” said Pearce, “and bring a lot of new stuff to the table.” Said Diaz: “I think it’s going to be a lot better, because we’ve been playing together a while now, and Chris is a better bass player than Jen was. That’s why I’m really banking on this next recording.” The band plans to invest more time in recording the next album, with songwriting input from Caldwell and vocal contributions from all of the members adding new ingredients to the stew.

The band members all evince dedication to their rock ’n’ roll ethos, and talk about the absence of other options — your typical rock ’n’ roll brat trashtalk. Underneath it, though, are signs of something that might just be, uh, an emerging maturity. “There are a lot of bands out there that try to be real emotional and serious,” said Pierce, “and a lot of times, they don’t even know what they’re feeling. We don’t take ourselves seriously. We just play blasting shit rock. We have a good time. Now we’re getting a little older and trying to get more of our own sound. We want to have the freedom to write about the stuff we want to write about, and still have it be rock ‘n’ roll.”

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