Hunkering down low in the Knoxville skyline is an oddly proportioned monument called the Sunsphere. It was originally built as a futuristic symbol of unlimited energy for the 1982 World’s Fair, but over the years it has become an object of mockery and derision due to its uselessness and lackluster appeal.
As a boy of six, Dexateens’ leader Elliott McPherson visited the World’s Fair with his grandmother. She would tell him stories of when her brother was fighting in World War II while she volunteered at home, unknowingly helping to build the atomic bomb in the world’s largest underground factory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. So it makes perfect sense that, for Elliott, the golden sphere perched 40 miles west of Knoxville is symbolic of the massive fireballs that ignited Japan at the end of the war.
As an adult McPherson still clings to a child-like, impressionable spirit that at times can expose him as gullible and naive. He hints at the fact that he believes in far flung conspiracy theories about a global "illuminati" who are plotting on the devil’s behalf. The songs on Sunsphere reflect an edgy paranoia of dark supernatural forces that McPherson apparently believes are at the heart of world history.
Regardless of how literally McPherson intends to be with his lyrics, it can’t be ignored that the imagination of the Dexateens’ music has moved far beyond the typical imagery and stereotypes that are abundant when one thinks about Southern music. It's doubtful that this band would be comfortable finding any association with rebel flags and tired, Old South imagery.
The Dexateens are steadily maintaining their place in rock and roll obscurity and it appears to be by design. The band always has something cooking in the skillet, but whatever that might be is contrary to current music business models, as well as bewildering to those who have been following the band since its inception in 1998. After completely confusing fans and critics alike with the release of their soft-spoken 2009 release Singlewide, they disappeared from the touring circuit all together.
In an apparent effort to reach back to their earliest roots, legendary punk rock icon, Tim Kerr joined the Dexateens in a dark Birmingham basement, where the band rolled tape during a weekend long party. This EP is a document of those three days and served as a closure to regular touring and a beginning to new personal ventures for the band members.
At this juncture, newest member Lee Bains III formed the Glory Fires to perform his own gospel-spirited Southern soul, while bass player Matt Patton joined the legendary Drive By Truckers. In the meantime, band leader Elliott McPherson quietly wrote a healthy collection of new songs that will make up the forthcoming full-length titled, Teenage Hallelujah, which is due out in 2014 on the band’s own label, Cornelius Chapel Records. The band promises it will be their most offensive and inspired album to date.