Chris Lynch wears many masks in his musical career—some of them literal. Under his own name, the 26-year-old manages the fortune of OC garage rockers the Bellhaunts. As Brother Cecil, he sports white makeup and fake blood smeared across his face while wailing out zombified blues with drummer Aaron “The Milkbone” Shorb. The spooky brew sounds like Blind Willie McTell and Hasil Adkins jamming with the Gun Club. As blues persona DJ Oldboy, he spins classic pop, R&B, blues and rock for the masses, turning white-boy dance floors into sweaty, adrenalin-fueled soul revues. With his eccentric style of frizzy curls, kitschy ties and tight slacks held up by suspenders, Lynch certainly cuts one of the more distinctive figures in the local music scene. He holds forth about booze, alter egos and secret societies below.
OC Weekly: How did you begin deejaying around OC and Long Beach?
Chris Lynch: I always loved music, and I try to emulate old sock hops. While I was attending Cal State Long Beach in 2007, I worked at Kbeach Global Radio for two years. It was a weekly show for two hours; I played garage rock, blues, folk and psychedelic/experimental music. It was always changing. That spring, I played my first DJ set at the Tuesday Night Record Club at Proof Bar. I had no idea what I was doing. The first night, I forgot my headphones and needles. My friend had to bring the equipment for me.
Why do you only spin oldies records?
I want people to hear DJ Oldboy and know what I play. I love older music; that’s why I picked the name. I don’t consider the music I play “oldies.” Chuck Berry isn’t oldies; he’s rock & roll and blues. I love shaking. Who doesn’t want to shake their moneymaker? It’s a good feeling. I want to bring back my parents’ high-school days and the twist party.
Can you please explain this zombie alter ego named Brother Cecil?
It started off as a joke. At my old job at Electric Chair in Huntington Beach, a co-worker was producing a student film. I came up to him and said, “You know who has the blues? Zombies.” I had a revelation. Zombies are always moaning, lonely and in pain. That’s the blues! I wrote a song called “Zombie Blues” and dressed up and played it for the end credits. I thought it would be interesting to portray a person who is from the ’30s who has come back to life to preach about the blues. It’s just me being a nerd.
Do you feel connected to this character you have developed?
I don’t care if people think I’m pretentious. I’ve become these characters. It’s bizarre; I’m not Chris Lynch anymore. When Brother Cecil is playing, the things he says and does aren’t what I would do. I’m a different person when I perform. Brother Cecil was born in 1910 in Jackson, Mississippi, and died in 1936. Then, he came back in the ’40s, and history writes itself after that. He’s a poor boy; he doesn’t have any equipment, but he makes it work.
You wrote a song titled “Sunny Brook” while imbibing the whiskey of the same name. Is the song about the whiskey, or did drinking it inspire you to write something that used it as a metaphor?
I was recording the song at my friend’s apartment while we were drinking a bottle of Sunny Brook. The whiskey goes down nice and slow, like a woman touching your soul.
I heard that you’re a member of a secret society that’s going to release a compilation with other local artists in the near future. Is this true?
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[Laughs] It’s called the Fellowship of the Fireball. That’s all I can say about it right now. If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret. There are other members. It’s a work in progress. Hopefully, it will be a tool for a means to achieve greater things.
DJ Oldboy performs with the Minibosses, Wild Pack of Canaries and Treasure Mammal’s Roar at Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Mon., 9 p.m. $8. 21+.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column appeared in print as "Oldboy’s New Tricks."