October 2008 - DEGE LEGG
Dege Legg is a real busy man. Born in southern Louisiana and influenced by the blues, strange psychedelic experiences and other weird things he developed his own unique profile in the underground. He's a writer, a poet, and of course an independant musician, who released a lot of albums over the last years. When he moved to Lafayette in 1994 he founded psychedelic hardrock band SANTERIA, that developed it's own sound. That was one of the reasons, why Cosmic Lava did an interview with Dege back in 2003, and it was one of the most entertaining interviews of this year. Five years have passed, and this time Gideon Smith was the one who talked to Dege Legg about his latest experiences.
Hey, Dege, what's the latest on your music, I know you have been hard at work on several projects in the last year, what's on the horizon for SANTERIA fans and your other projects?
First off, my name is pronounced "deej leg". Sometimes there's confusion with the spelling and such. 3 records coming out in 2008. SANTERIA, "Year of the Knife". Full album, our 4th, got everything on it: rockers, weird acoustic shit, death blues epics, slammers, etc. If you liked "House of the Dying Sun", then this is like Dying Sun Pt. II. Five years later. Black Bayou Construktion, "Kingdoms of Folly".
This is my other band. Piano, violin, mountains exploding, Neil Young-meets-Pink Floyd if they were all born in the Deep South. It's huge, orchestral, and beautiful, yet really powerful and loud . The Dobro/Slide Solo Record. Not a lot of people know this but I play bottleneck slide with finger picks and all that. Traditional Mississippi Delta style, which is me doing my Robert Johnson-on-Thorazine thing. That's my style. Took me 10-years to learn how to do it, but it works. People play the shit of my slide-dobro youtube videos. More than all the other shit. Weird.
Have you been playing live lately around New Orleans? How has it been going and how do you feel about the city as it is now compared to before the hurricane?
We're from Lafayette, which is Cajun Country and a world away from New Orleans (2 hours away). But that whole Katrina thing was insane, like a mini-apocalypse of some kind. Martial Law. Blackwater Mercenaries roaming around. Strange vibes in the air. Dead cars for miles along I-10. Formaldehyde trailers. FEMA checks going up on in crack smoke. You couldn't book a hotel room for 500 miles in the months afterward. People living in Wal-Mart parking lots. No speed limits for a while. Old West in the Deep South. Crazy. If New Orleans were a suburb in the Hamptons, I doubt you would have had to wait 5 days for help to arrive. But that's the nature of the world we live in. And that is how seemingly unchecked power stacks the deck. I'll say this; it was some of the only honest news reporting I've seen in about 10 years.
When you first started playing music, what inspired you to pick up the guitar or microphone?
Not so much rock stars & music, but boredom. Living in the middle of nowhere. Having to drive an hour in your friend's mom's car just to buy a punk rock record. There was no internet then, or if they did have it, it was at the Tin Cup & a String level. It was just something to do other than smoking cigarettes in graveyards and riding your bike around aimlessly. And then it became a habitual. And we got wacky haircuts or no haircuts at all.
I know you guys in SANTERIA did some heavy touring, are you looking to return to touring days or more local gigs and recording during this era of your music?
Hopefully, we'll tour once the next record comes out, but with gas prices so high, who knows? It's like culture may become more localized again. Maybe decentralized. That'd be cool in some ways. We put out our own records and do everything in house, as a labor of love, so it costs a little money and time. If anything, we'll just keep putting out cool records that we think are interesting.
We're in "Grateful Dead Gear", now where we're not all jacked up on owning the world or succeeding at any costs like bands do in their early years. We're 14 years in, so we feel like we don't need approval from anyone other than ourselves. We're on our own trip. If you keep doing art or music in a genuine way, for a long enough time, regardless of trends and such - one no longer needs that validation. It's nice, but it's not necessary.
What are some of the bands you have been listening to lately and enjoying a lot?
This is going to sound really bad, but I don't listen to that much new music. Maybe I'm too full of my own shit. I don't know. Once in a while something comes up that will raise on eyebrow, but mostly I'm like, "Where are the new titans of rock? Where's the next Zeppelin or whatever?" Not much blows my mind anymore. I really don't like thinking like that either, because I'm rooting for whoever is out there doing it in a unique way. I WANT them to blow my mind, not shine someone else's shoes.
What's kept you going all these years from your first gigs until today?
I'm not sure. Being an underground musician is kind of like being a Metaphysical Evil Knievel Man. It's like, you jump 20 buses (or years) and say to yourself, "I think I can do another 10". And then you do another 10, go into debt, suffer countless humiliations, alienate your family, experience a little glory, and it busts your ass, but then you're, like, "put 5 more buses on the end of those 30, and let me try it one more time - THEN I'll quit". But you never do. Quit that is as if you're true to the good fight. Creativity is a mysterious gift, it's like religion for people without a traditional god. I try not to take it for granted. And instead honor it and give back to people. It's altruistic in that way and that makes me happy. Helps in the Longevity Department.
What are some of your favorite movies or books lately?
My all time favorite book is "100 Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's a truly amazing work of art that is realistic, surreal, and unpretentious and just badass. You have to read it three times or more to digest it. It's like a mountain. I could go on for an hour about that book. I value books more so than music or movies as material items, that's just me, because writing is a tougher discipline, so I respect it more.
Other favorites include Norman Mailer, Bukowski, Celine, Selby Jr., Kerouac and a lot of the Beat writers, cuz that was like the punk rock of literature. Mostly, though, I read nonfiction - everything from David Icke to Jim Marrs and Zecharia Sitchin. Also, I'm into a lot of the Truth Movement stuff. Some people call it conspiracy literature, but I think that's just a trick the mainstream media use as propaganda to ridicule people who seek the truth about things.
Any news or last words for the reader?
Keep fighting the Good Fight - there is no other.