Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Descending upon the MySpace -- particularly the comments section of any MySpace page -- for anything credible or interesting is a crapshoot, with more crap, loads of it, than any sort of bull's eye. It's striking -- like electrocution -- when not only do you see and read something of any value, but it's actually a piece of whatever that triggers insight, honest to goodness insight into a person.
Randomly enough, such a thing happened at Dan Sartain's little slice of computer real estate, a patch of acreage that features a glittery backdrop of his name all iced out, a mock-up of what it would look like as thug-approved throat jewelry, a status symbol for all-time. Down a ways is a photograph that a friend or fan posted of Sartain sitting on a bed with sheets scattered and crumpled, smiling like a loony with an unlit cigarette poking out of the corner of his mouth and wearing a tee-shirt with the stenciled/spray painted phrase, "Ape Soul," in the center of it.
That shirt is so applicable when considering the music that oozes out of the wiry Sartain, the way a volcano oozes lava and magma. It's a violent expression of purging and spewing - like the orange earth fighting with itself and with the open air, blasting its lid off and seeing what will last, what will stick.
Sartain, the native of Birmingham, Ala., has the piping hot motor of a Big Foot - the monster truck - and the insides of an untamed bestial thing. Many of the songs that he writes are the equivalent of him standing on top of a building and beating his closed fists against his chest and roaring until it knocks all of the aircraft out of the sky. He's a man who, in taking all of his fiery behavior into account, refuses to be pushed around - especially at parties or on the road. He shoots mental daggers, speaks up when speaking up is needed and gives people the bird it they deserve it.
It wouldn't be surprising if his normal body temperature was in the upper registers of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He could live like that. He's got a slice of the devil roaming the streets inside his clothes, knocking over applecarts, throwing rocks into windows and keeping people up at night. The ape soul or the lost soul, perhaps they're all about the same thing.
Sartain is a fierce songwriter, who recently did a leg of tour with the White Stripes through Canadian hockey arenas and got to see what it's like to tour as a great big machine. They saw Liv Tyler backstage at shows, surrounded by a bubble wrapping of security people and felt like imposters, in a way. They belong more in a shit bar with a bunch of outlaws and misfits, where the stage needs to be fronted by chicken wire to catch the flying glass bottles before they actually harm someone. It would just stir Sartain into more of a froth and blowing out of his mouth would be another piece of the furnace, the rumbling teeth of fire.
Dan Sartain MySpace Page