If there's a dark side to the Elephant 6 Collective, then its perfect embodiment may be Jucifer.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of such metal-driven bands as Black Sabbath and The Melvins, Jucifer has developed a reputation for being the flip side to the trippy, experimental tunings of such E6 bands as The Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Elf Power.
Comprised of singer-guitarist Amber Valentine and drummer Ed Livengood, Jucifer was born in Athens, Georgia -- the homebase for much of the E6 Collective -- circa 1994 when an earlier incarnation of the group, then a trio, slimmed down to a two-piece after its drummer left.
Ed subsequently switched from bass to the drumkit, and during rehearsals and jam sessions, the two discovered that they didn't want or need a rolling bottom end. The newly-christened Jucifer, whose name derives from a combination of O.J. Simpson's gridiron handle and one of Satan's many aliases, decided that its music would be anchored
by Valentine's rough-hewn riffing and Livengood's propulsive beat.
After relentlessly touring the Southeast circuit, Jucifer has built a reputation as part of the extended Elephant 6 family alongside the likes of collegiate rock faves Macha, and the duo even shares an apartment in Athens with Elf Power bassist Bryan Helium.
Despite the band's preference for macabre-tinged metal over intellectual-minded psychedelia, Jucifer says that the local crowds have been surprisingly supportive of the group, even if audiences aren't always prepared for its style of music.
"It seems that the people who enjoyed the more standard music that's normally associated with Athens, those people were very receptive to us," Valentine told MTV News. "The only negative thing about being the way we were and being from Athens
was that when we'd go
out of town, people would have really wrong expectations of what we were gonna be like.
"And that was sometimes funny," she remarked. "They would expect us to be a four-piece band with jangly acoustic guitars or something, and we wouldn't be that at all. But in terms of the Athens people and that whole music scene, people were always remarkably supportive." [RealAudio]
Mistaken stylistic identities aside, Valentine says that Jucifer has sought out and embraced the metal-lovin' audiences that turn out for its shows, and she credits them with helping foster the band's sonic crunch.
"Part of why we enjoy playing the really heavy stuff when we play live is that the metal-type audience is the best kind of audience you can play for," she said. "They're not people who are there to sit in judgment
on you while you play
and say, 'Oh, well, I don't know if this is cool enough' or whatever.
"They're not there to be social. They're there to get off and be rocked and bask in the loudness and the power. And, y'know, that's what you should go to a rock show for, I think." [RealAudio]
Jucifer recently signed with Capricorn Records, becoming the first of the Elephant 6 Collective (or its extended family) to secure distribution through a major label. In January, Capricorn issued a remastered version of Jucifer's 1998 indie debut, "Calling All Cars On The Vegas Strip."
The band, in turn, paid homage to the label's Southern rock roots by filming part of its video for "Superman" in the same Macon, Georgia cemetery where the Allman Brothers took some of the group's earliest publicity shots -- although they admit they didn't exactly go over too well with the natives.
explained Livengood, "and we had all these redneck people coming by and trying to get us out of there, 'cause I had my drums set up, and we were, y'know, basically raising hell. "These people came by,"
"These people came by,"he said, "and this redneck couple came out of their pickup truck and they started taking pictures of us. So I was like, 'Why are you taking pictures of us?' And they were like, 'It's for the trial.' [RealAudio]
"I was like, 'What are you talking about?' Then the redneck guy looked at me and said, 'Son, the Allman Brothers already done did that.'"
Jucifer is currently finishing up work on its second album, which Ed and Amber are co-producing with Andy Baker, the engineer behind "Calling All Cars" as well as both of Macha's critically-acclaimed albums.
But before its second album is released,
Jucifer plans to head
out on the road in the spring to promote the remastered debut, although Valentine has an aural caveat for fans and those interested in catching its live set.
"We tend to play everything faster, the better we know it," she said, laughing, "so we have to watch ourselves on that. But the main thing you'll notice is that we're actually a hell of a lot louder."