King Dude on Chelsea Wolfe, breaking down the 'Django Unchained' soundtrack, the return of Cannibal Ox, and a new band for Ty Segall
TOFU AND WHISKEY Ah, the tormented love song. Chelsea Wolfe does it well. Vocally, she transfixes, sometimes sounding like she's calmly wringing every ounce of blood from a relationship totem, at other points whispering cries of help from a enveloping darkness, the vibrations of the plucked-hard guitar strings reverberating in the distance. This rush of gloom and pain, in a genre she's past described as "doom folk," came forth in a fierce package in 2011's electric Apokalypsis, and steadily zigzags beautifully through 2012's meandering Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs.
This weekend, the LA-via-Sacramento singer-guitarist comes to SF with a fellow dark folk spirit, King Dude (Fri/11, 9pm, $15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, SF. www.slimspresents.com). The two once recorded a split seven-inch together, and have played a few shows here and there, but this will be their first full tour together, which surprises King Dude, as tells me via phone from his homebase in Seattle, because they're longtime pals who "got on like a house on fire" when they first met.
They're both on the spectrum of a bubbling rebirth of neofolk and gothic Americana roots, inspired by acts like Death in June, and seen elsewhere in musicians like Emily Jane White and Father John Misty, but really driven recently by Wolfe and Dude, in unique ways.
Though King Dude — a.k.a Seattle's T.J. Cowgill of black metal bands Teen Cthulhu and Book of Black Earth, and clothing label Actual Pain — also has some experience with tortured love songs. His baritone vocals often sound as if there's a gravelly demon inside, clawing to get out. The lyrics of his 2012 release, Burning Daylight, tend to reflect inner, unearthly struggles, the occult, fears of death, and tragic old world tales. Or as he told another publication, he's inspired by "death, religion, love, Lucifer, nature, primal feelings." Most of the tracks have fully imagined narratives.
There's the song "Barbara Anne" in which he growls, "I'll shoot that man in the head if he hurts you, Barbara Anne" and "I'll run away with you if you'll have me, Barbara Anne." It's the tale of small-town love, set in 1940s, around two characters — a boy and the girl he wants, who's been wronged by the town. "I think it's probably the best love song I've ever written," Cowgill says. "The kid is like: 'I'll kill everybody in the town for you, if that's alright with you.' That's the most loving thing I think anybody can say for somebody else."
In his reality, his allegiances lie with his musician wife, Emily, and their seven-year-old black lab, Pagan, the latter of which is currently at the vet getting checked before King Dude heads out on tour with Wolfe, just to make sure everything is OK.
For the complete King Dude interview, see sfbg.com/noise.
There have been countless articles dissecting every shot of Quentin Tarantino's newest revenge fantasy, Django Unchained. From "the Django moment" (when white people laugh) to Kerry Washington's costume designer's secrets to "Why Django Had to Be a Spaghetti Western," bloggers and squawkers have been raising important, sometimes frivolous theories about the controversial, often brutal film, set in an alternate version of the antebellum era of the Deep South. But what stood out to me, was the Django Unchained soundtrack; no big shocker, given the director.