Interview: Dax Riggs on "Say Goodnight to the World"
Mon, 23 Aug 2010 08:37:24
If the apocalypse had a bard, it would be Dax Riggs.
On his second solo album, Say Goodnight to the World, Dax paints a poetically beautiful portrait of darkness in its purest form. The album is a collection of bluesy, ethereal ruminations on everything from death to the devil. Dax gets close to evil, but he presents it in a strangely palatable fashion. However, he's been doing that since his days fronting the legendary underground New Orleans metal band, Acid Bath. He's simply perfected that art form on Say Goodnight to the World. Just spin "I Hear Satan" or "See You All in Hell or New Orleans" for proof.
There's a boundlessness at the album's heart. Dax exclaims, "We recorded Say Goodnight to the World at home with no adult supervision. It was put together very organically, and it was really comfortable at home recording. I think that came through. The songs really feel like living things."
Dax Riggs sits down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about Say Goodnight to the World, possibly getting "heavy" again, some Acid Bath memories and so much more…
Were you reading anything while you were writing the album? How has the songwriting process changed for you?
It's definitely what I'm reading and watching. It's a lot of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Grant Morrison, Carlos Castaneda and Charles Bukowski. I was really into different music like early voodoo from Dr. John. Then I was also listening to a lot of country music at the same time. I think all of those elements make Say Goodnight to the World what it is.
It's like voodoo country.
[Laughs] Yeah! I love both of those kinds of music so much that it sounds wonderful to me.
What's the story behind "I Hear Satan?"
Initially, it was called, "Howl at the Moon." The "I Hear Satan" line just grew. It's definitely connected to the exact words—"I hear Satan in the basement of the Pentagon." I'm not saying something metaphorically there. I feel like there's actually a great evil that's happening. That's the basis for it. I know it's strange or fantastic, but that's where it's coming from.
Do you aim to create imagery with the songs?
Absolutely! I definitely come from the school of Syd Barrett and Jim Morrison. I'm not very good at saying something exact. I can say something truthful but it'll still be very colorful and phantasmagoric.
"See You All In Hell or New Orleans" is the perfect closing track for this ride.
It's definitely the "go to sleep" ending song. That's how I saw it.
Is there one pervasive thread throughout the entire record for you?
The idea of magic being real is behind it. It's real in the sense that we can use our minds to make things happen that we might perceive to be impossible but they're not. There's another idea that every living thing is the same thing. We're all part of the universe, like the same organism. We're just the conscious element of it that can stand up, look at itself and be sad or happy about it. Those are some elements that are in there.
Do you have any favorite authors or books?
Probably, Charles Bukowski…I'd also say Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil. It's something to keep around. It's almost like a Ouija board. You open it and see what page it falls on and what it's trying to tell you. The Flowers of Evil is real decadent. Without explaining too much about The Flowers of Evil, it's old morbid poetry. I just read it; I don't know the whole story. I know there's a lot of opium smoking going on [Laughs]. Baudelaire was a character for that time. I'm really big into graphic novels too. Grant Morrison does The Filth, and that's great. He does The Invisibles too. I've collected all that stuff and I'm really into it. I've been reading a lot of Japanese horror comics lately. Hideshi Hino makes some pretty shocking stuff. They're the kings of horror now. They have all the best stuff. I like Sympathy for Mr. Revenge by Korean director Park Chan-wook. Thirst is his new thing, which is pretty weird. He did Lady Vengeance and Old Boy too. I like him.
Would you ever want to write a book or a movie?
Definitely, I talk about stuff like that all the time in Fantasy Land [Laughs].
Was incorporating the country vibe intentional from the get-go?
Yeah, I listen to a lot of country music. I don't know if it was exactly intentional, but it's definitely what I'm into. I also listen to a lot of funkadelic too. Try to fit those two genres together [Laughs].
Where did the album title come from?
"Say Goodnight to the World" is a reference to the way magicians describe dreaming. They look at it as if they're actually going into another dimension. It's like they're saying goodnight to reality and hello to another reality that we can't perceive. It's about getting into a different state of mind and seeing things differently. Music alters your state.
To step back for a minute, how'd you come up with the Acid Bath song "The Bones of Baby Dolls?"
It's totally from a summer of heavy tripping on mushrooms. That's basically the whole idea behind it and where it was coming from—a lot of psychedelics. It was a very beautiful time with no responsibility. It's just being free and tripping the fuck out [Laughs].
Was a lot of the Acid Bath experience idyllic like that because you were so young?
Kind of, but it was also nightmarishly like it sounds at other times. In my mind now, there's a representation of some of the better parts of the whole experience.
Would you ever want to do another heavy project like that ever again?
Not like that, but I'm definitely interested in heavy music. It depends on what you're talking about. I'm more interested in proto-metal sounds. You'd actually call it primitive hard rock from '68 and '69 before Iron Butterfly even. I'm really interested in that era where it originally got heavy. There are a bunch of bands from that time like Up and High Tide. They're really obscure. It was all right before Black Sabbath. I'm interested in all of that earlier music and putting that into what I'm doing.
If Say Goodnight to the World were a movie what would it be?
That's an insane question, but sure [Laughs]. Maybe a lost David Lynch film with cannibals in it or even a ghost?
What's your favorite Dax Riggs or Acid Bath tune?