DeSalvo: Schizophonic

DeSalvo elicit as much fear as they do admiration from those privy to their catharsis

Feature by Austin Tasseltine | 31 Oct 2008
  • DeSalvo

If DeSalvo were the Hulk, its members might easily be four Bruce Banners. The collective entity is a furious beast. It throws itself headlong into crowds, hurling grinning bodies through the air, beating its chest and purging huge riffs audience-ward that impact upon torsos like a good, solid punch. Indeed, DeSalvo elicit as much fear as they do admiration from those privy to their catharsis. Yet, when not full of the green rage, DeSalvo are well-spoken, intelligent men. Their humour is understated, their patter self-effacing and their enthusiasm for their art decidedly sincere.

So are DeSalvo really as monstrous as their namesake - the official (though oft-disputed) identity of the Boston Strangler - might suggest, or are they in fact a sheep in wolf's clothing? Drummer Richie Dempsey assures us: “I'm pretty much the same on and off stage really. I don't do much except sit at the back, speed up occasionally and laugh a lot. We just go up there and have tons of fun for half an hour, putting on a show that we'd want to go and see. P6 (vocals, often seen in a pig mask and butcher apron) probably freaks a few people out when they pluck up the courage to speak to him after a show because he's nothing like the dervish that he is during a set. He's pretty mellow and very friendly. We all are I think.”

The quartet have plenty of reasons to be upbeat, having just released their excellent debut album Mood Poisoner on Rock Action Records to considerable acclaim. The influence of the label upon the band has been subtle but effective in pushing them onwards. Guitarist Allan Stewart (also of Idlewild) explains: “We really needed this kickstart to finalise the songs and get them down in the studio. It has given us the means and structure to record and put out an album.”

Mood Poisoner was almost seven years in the making, however Allan is confident that the timing was correct: “It's nice that there's been no rush to write over the years. We have written stuff, honed it, sometimes scrapped it, so when Rock Action came along and wanted to do a record we were ready.”

In a hardcore battlefield strewn with the bodies of fallen comrades, DeSalvo have done well to last the course. Many peers, both from Glasgow and beyond, have fragmented within far shorter lifespans. The secret: “There's no secret really", shrugs Richie. "Above all we're all really good friends and we enjoy making the noise that we make together. This isn't about a career as such. It's just about the four of us having fun and creating music that we want to make. When the fun stops then so will we. Besides, I've got my whole life ahead of me to form my Steely Dan soundalike band.” All very agreeable then. Four men with a love of music and a strong friendship.

Yet one is almost tempted to forget the fact that these guys have mown down many an audience member with a combination of flying guitars and meaty fists. Their new album depicts ball-gagged nuns bothering farm animals and, as we also find out, this is the band who , when briefly describing their next album, offer that “its pretty grim. You probably won't want to hear it.”

The thing is, for all their humble, courteous facade, one can't shake the feeling that DeSalvo are wide-eyed, licking their lips every time you look away. Definitely get that new record, but watch your back for goodness' sake.

Mood Poisoner is out now via Rock Action.

DeSalvo play Captain's Rest, Glasgow (with Monotonix) on 10 Nov and Stereo, Glasgow on 13 Nov.