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By Alex Distefano
A Psychobilly Star Is Born
Anaheim drummer Lux is the newest member of the Nekromantix
The Nekromantix were getting ready for a new year of recording and touring when tragedy struck. In the early-morning hours of Jan. 11, Andrew Martinez—the veteran psychobilly band’s 25-year-old drummer, known professionally as “Andy DeMize”—was a passenger in a 1972 Chevy Nova when the driver lost control, crashing into a eucalyptus tree off the 57 freeway in Fullerton. The car erupted in flames, and Martinez lost his life.
“Two days after the accident happened, we had actually been scheduled to go into the studio and record the new album, and we had tours lined up for the summer. I knew I had to cancel a lot of stuff and change the plans,” recalls Kim Nekroman, upright bassist/vocalist/founding member of the band. “It’s hard to talk about. Not only did I lose a very good friend, but also a drummer at the same time. It’s hard to put words on those feelings.”
Martinez joined the Nekromantix in 2006 and recorded on their most recent album, 2007’s Life Is a Grave and I Dig It! Despite the loss, Nekroman was confident Martinez would have wanted the band to continue.
“I know for sure he would have wanted that,” Nekroman says from his workshop, where he is crafting two new upright-coffin basses—one of the band’s trademarks. With an impressive longevity in a genre that often sees acts come and go, Nekroman (also the guitarist for HorrorPops) set out to regroup the three-piece band he helped form 20 years ago in Denmark. Just before Martinez’s death, guitarist Franc joined the band, moving from Barcelona, Spain, to Oregon in December.
This left Nekroman with the difficult task of passing the drumsticks to a worthy successor. And then he came upon an Anaheim-based drummer Lux’s MySpace page.
“[Nekroman] sent me a message and gave me the whole spiel about who they were,” she says, between bites of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos while on a work break. “When I read that message, I was totally stoked!”
Lux, who was just four years old when the Nekromantix were founded in 1989, might have seemed like an unlikely candidate at first listen. She previously anchored the all-female indie/experimental outfit Mystery Hangup; in her current thrash-metal group, Sacred Storm, Lux’s double bass-drum hits are searingly unrestrained. Meanwhile, drummers from the psychobilly/rockabilly scene were soliciting Nekroman for auditions, though he had other qualifications in mind.
“I was looking for something with outside influences, like I’ve always done when looking for new musicians,” he says.
Wanting to confirm his intrigue in Lux, an audition was set.
“I told her, ‘Rehearse four songs, and let’s meet up and jam out,’” Nekroman says.
Lux recalls, “He came down to my garage, brought his bass, and we played. After the third song, he came over to me on the kit and put out his hand and said, ‘You’re hired!’”
Though Lux was elated, the stiletto-heeled drummer understood the circumstances behind the opportunity. “A drummer can never be replaced,” she says. “Andrew was such a good drummer. I didn’t know him, but I wish I had.”
Also understanding that Martinez was a fan favorite, Lux has been heartened by the positive reaction she has received since joining the lineup. “A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, a girl drummer—that’s so cool!’” she says. “I’ve been really fortunate.”
Fully reconstituted, the Nekromantix will be playing tour dates in July in support of the Reverend Horton Heat. The shows will give the band a chance to build chemistry onstage while reintroducing themselves to their loyal fan base. Local Nekromantix-lovers will have an early opportunity to check them out this Saturday when the psychobilly outfit perform as part of the annual pompadour and circumstance of greaser festival Hootenanny.
During the tour, the Nekromantix will also be readying a return to another piece of unfinished business.
“We have a bunch of new songs ready to be worked on,” Nekroman says. “We are probably going to start working on them while on tour, and when we get back, we definitely plan on going to the rehearsal room to finish up those songs.”
The Nekromantix with the Reverend Horton Heat, Los Lobos, HorrorPops and more at Hootenanny 2009, Oak Canyon Ranch, 5300 Santiago Canyon Rd., Silverado Canyon; www.thehootenanny.com. Sat. Show times start at 1 p.m.; see website for schedules. $29-$75. All ages.