Luke Chappelle doesn't want to sound like "a pussy-ass indie band"
The local artist and DJ plugs into the rocking psychedelia of Drugs Dragons
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Luke Chappelle is probably best known in the Milwaukee music scene as one-half of garage-rock record-spinners The Get Drunk and as a visual artist whose wacked-out creations have adorned show posters and album covers. But Chappelle also makes his own music with Drugs Dragons, a riff-heavy psychedelic outfit that was formed this spring with members of local garage-rock titans The Night Terrors. How does Chappelle’s singular artistic sensibility—which is heavy on fanciful creatures that are alternately whimsical and creepy—translate musically? The A.V. Club talked with him to find out in advance of Drugs Dragons’ show Saturday at Club Garibaldi.
The A.V. Club: You’re recognized primarily as a poster artist. What’s your perspective on now being in a band?
Luke Chappelle: Art and music can go hand in hand. I first started drawing in a more original, psychedelic style when I was 13. I was drawing how I imagined Sabbath lyrics and that kind of stuck ever since, and a lot of the lyrics I write will have a drawing in it somehow. I don’t know really how to put that in a way that people could understand; I kind of leave the smudges in and when I put a lot of effects on my voice, I feel like that’s just using a different medium, like using a Crayola red pen instead of a pencil.
AVC: How do you write songs?
LC: I keep a book with me usually all the time, and I when I come up with a good song idea, I’ll write it down. I’ll come up with a phrase, and I’ll write a song around it. It’s not the most intelligent stuff, but it’s weird, so I guess I get away with it that way. “I’m In A Brain Grave” is all based around the idea of partying so hard that your brain is so gone that it’s not there any more —you’re in a brain grave. Have you ever gone into work hungover, and someone asks you a question like, ‘What’s your phone number?’ and you’re like (mumbles), “Yeah?”
AVC: Instead of asking you to describe Drugs Dragons' sound, how about describing what you don’t want to sound like?
LC: I don’t want to sound like a pussy-ass indie band. I want to have to some balls behind it. Pretty much any band that isn’t influenced by AC/DC, we do not want to sound like. I’ve never been in a band and I’m not really a singer—I just go from the gut, go for what I’m feeling with the song. I mean, there’s a certain amount of thought in it, but I don’t think about it too hard. It’s just general rock music, I guess, maybe like AC/DC at times, Bauhaus at others, A Frames, Hunches.
AVC: You’re playing with some big bands on Saturday. How did you get on the bill when you’re relatively new?
LC: I’ll be totally honest: I’ve been doing the Get Drunk DJs for seven or eight years, and have been busting my fucking ass for bands that for a certain time I should be allowed to throw my weight around.