Kinky Wizard

Long the king of his castle, ever-prolific Deathray Davies front man John Dufilho is learning to share

Dufilho notes the band has booked time with producers Matt Pence (Centro-Matic, Pleasant Grove) and Barry Poynter (Juliana Theory, Mulehead), and both of those sessions could produce separate albums. That's in addition to the recording the band has been doing over the past few months, which, yes, could also end up as another new disc.

On top of all that, Dufilho, Deathray bassist Jason Garner and drummer Bill Shupp have been working on a low-key DRD offshoot called I Love Math; Dufilho says he's recorded demos for about 40 new songs for the side project.

Given the Deathray Davies' unusual conception, it's tempting to view the unit as the musical equivalent of an authoritarian state rather than a group of mutual friends who are brought together as much by circumstance as by a shared interest in music. Dufilho says, "It's kind of [developed] into that . . . into a regular real band, whatever that is. At first it was pretty much me just saying, 'This is how all the parts go, play it like this, don't play it like that.' Which I'm not very good at that role. I wasn't thrilled about being a leader of a band and telling people how to play and what to do. But by the time I finally got comfortable with it, everybody was ready to start making it a real band. So it's slowly [come] together."

John Dufilho (far right) and his Deathray Davies crew 
continue to burn bright on their latest.
Mark Graham
John Dufilho (far right) and his Deathray Davies crew continue to burn bright on their latest.
The Deathray Davies kick things up during their 
high-energy concerts.
The Deathray Davies kick things up during their high-energy concerts.

Details

Is scheduled to perform on Friday, June 8, with Arlo. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Big Fish Pub in Tempe

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The Return of the Drunk Ventriloquistdisplays many of the characteristics of the band's first album and expands upon the group's winning lo-fi mélange of '60s Brit invasion sounds and the more contemporary pulp/pop. Dufilho's lyrics, like his song titles, are by turns serious or more simply punny, but never at the expense of meaning. "I just loathe music that, even if it's catchy, the words aren't rhyming with reason. I like things to mean something," he says.

The recordings reflect the wacky, just-havin'-fun spirit that the Davies embody during their live show. Even the darker tracks, especially "Evaporated," are extremely impressive reflections of what the band is capable of, without departing too much from the energetic sound. "Chinese Checkers and Devo Records," with its unique recording style (it sounds as if someone keeps adjusting the volume knob), ends the album on a definite high note.

Although Dufilho pooh-poohs the notion himself, it seems reasonable to assume that the album's title is a sly reference to his role as the man with sounds in his head that have to be released. "I just liked it," he says. "It just sounded right. . . . There's nothing really deep about it."

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