Life usually doesn't play fair with Death Becomes You, Coral Springs' favorite goth-rock horror show. I know this because I'm lucky enough to receive regular transmissions from drummer Christopher Lee, who is more than willing to report, in detail, every happening that shapes the band's existence. Many of these updates result from the fact that the group does a rather poor job of cultivating friendships within the South Florida music infrastructure. But in recent weeks Lee's missives have described setbacks that go far beyond those accrued simply by virtue of being Death Becomes You.
First came a late-January message with the shock-rocker confirming that Death Becomes You would be on hand to shore up a February 2 bill featuring Insane Clown Posse at Orbit nightclub in Boynton Beach. But two days later Lee followed up by writing, "The whole affair turned into quite a fiasco, again resulting in a situation of a band tending to their professional duties and obligations in a responsible manner, and a club or other party displaying complete arrogance!"
Translated from the Lee-ese, here's what happened: The band arrived at the club only to be informed that it wouldn't be allowed to perform until after the Posse had finished its sticky set, not before. And then Death Becomes You was told that it couldn't play at all.
Sez who? Sez ICP themselves. Apparently the band didn't want any other makeup-intensive band to get its extremely sloppy seconds.
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"ICP's manager wasn't havin' no part of nothin' like that," says Orbit manager Pete Gross. "He was tellin' us what to do all night."
That's fine, says Lee. But he wishes the club had called Death Becomes You before its members had rented a U-Haul to transport their equipment to Orbit, endured the requisite two-hour makeup-application ritual, and made the drive to Boynton. "It was the end of a pretty heavy week," sighs Lee, "and that didn't make it any easier."
Indeed the concert wasn't the only thing on the minds of Lee and his brother, singer John Janos, that day: February 2, 2001, was also the date of their father's funeral.
While scanning one of Lee's latest written rants, amid his oft-repeated insistence that I "release the bats" and usual assortment of boasts and threats, I had missed this line: "Last Monday my father left the earth never to return, altering the course of my life quite abruptly." Was this just another of Lee's over-the-top, attention-getting ploys? Far from it. Indeed Lee momentarily sheds some of his usual misanthropy as he recalls the early-morning phone call from his mother January 26. DBY usually maintains a cavalier attitude when it comes to dying, but this time it hit far too close to home to keep up such a front.
"You could be my biggest enemy," Lee says soberly, "but I'd rather that you'd not have to lose one of your parents. I don't wish that on anybody. That's the most fucked-up thing I've ever experienced in my life."
Seems 57-year-old George Xenos, who apparently shared his son's nervous energy, succumbed to a massive heart attack. "He never knew when to relax," Lee breathlessly explains. "He was always high-strung. That shit does you in, in the end, and now I have no father."
Of course Death Becomes You elected to soldier on, even deciding to perform in Xenos' honor the evening of his funeral. "We were going to do this strictly for my dad," says Lee through a blast of exhaled cigarette smoke. "This is the way he would have wanted it." In fact Lee's band is entering a productive phase, with several of its tracks licensed on various international compilations: Two songs from DBY's Unearthed album will appear on HellBound Fury from Spook Records in Massachusetts, while Australia's Bad Town Records will release a tribute to the Ramones with Death Becomes You's excellent self-described "pisstake" on the band's Stephen King inspired anthem "Pet Sematary."
Also, because the band is so closely associated with blood (sacrifices, baths, stains, et cetera), it's only fitting that the South Florida Blood Bank should tap Death Becomes You to host its upcoming "Drink the Blood Drive" in Coral Springs Saturday. "Blood, while not only being paramount to our performances, has a wonderful tinge like a fine chardonnay," Lee says, apparently unaware that chardonnay is a buttery, oaky white wine.
The campy blood drive makes for good copy, of course, but Lee and company appear as serious as can be expected about doing their part to scare up support for those in need of a big tall glass of O neg. Better still, the organization doesn't seem to fathom fully what these nefarious, Barnabas Collinsworshiping lads are all about. Thus there will be many a startled stare in the Publix lot where the blood bank will park its mobile van.
In the meantime Lee and his bandmates (porn connoisseurs all) can be found most nights at the Booby Trap in Pompano Beach, where they'll be rubbing, uh, shoulders with visiting X-rated actress and exBroward resident Angelica Sin. But Lee readily admits that his dad's passing has permanently changed him and indicates that he may even allow it to modify his belief system: "As you know, we're totally into Satanism. But I never doubted the existence of Jesus or God, the whole nine.... This has brought a new meaning to what this band is about."
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