Multi-instrumentalist Dax Riggs is a restless soul. The 37-year-old musician from Indiana has been in a string of varied and semi-successful bands over the years, including the likes of Acid Bath (sludge metal); Agents of Oblivion (hard rock); Daisyhead & the Mooncrickets (indie pop); and Deadboy & the Elephantmen (punk blues).
While in Deadboy, Riggs landed on legendary Mississippi-based label Fat Possum Records, and the two have had a fruitful relationship ever since. In 2007, Riggs went solo with the masterful debut release We Only Sing of Blood and Love and followed that up a year later with If This is Hell, Then I am Lucky.
Summoning up the devil child of Roky Erickson and Mark Lanegan, Riggs has an explosive combination of indie rock, dirty blues and hard driving rock in his solo work. Like a fine whiskey, he has matured his sound over his solo career and has recently tapped the barrel of the blues-rock hybrid once again to release his third solo record Say Goodnight to the World.
We had a chance to trade some emails with Riggs and talk to him, albeit sparingly, about the new album.
Innocent Words: Say Goodnight to the World is another great solo record. How do you feel your sound has evolved, if at all, since your first solo record?
Dax Riggs: I think it’s truly more organic, more transcendental and more spiritual.
IW: There are a lot of great vocals on this record and Robert Plant-esque wails on some of these songs. Was Led Zeppelin an influence while recording this album?
Riggs: No – Terry Reid (Superlungs); Robert Plant kind of copied him.
Riggs: I was thinking it was a real ray of sunshine, where there had never been light before.
IW: Who brought in the idea to record the fantastic version of the Elvis classic “Heartbreak Hotel?”
Riggs: I’m always playing with cover songs, and that’s what I was playing when we were recording.
IW: You’ve had a run of bands with varying styles over the years, have those different styles of music helped in your solo career?
Riggs: I think so; you’re always evolving or devolving, but some things stay with you.
IW: Is it better being in a band or a solo artist?
Riggs: It’s better to be a “solo artist” with a real band.
IW: The final track on Say Goodnight to the World is “See You in Hell or New Orleans.” Can you tell me a little bit about where this song came from? Does it have anything to do with Hurricane Katrina?
Riggs: Yeah, it’s a lament for the haunted city, a love song.
IW: I know you lived in Louisana at one time. Are you stilll living there? And if so, how are you getting along with the oil spill?
Riggs: I’ve been in Austin for a while now, but I spent last month in Louisiana. These greedheads are gonna kill us all.