"That first show was utterly bizarre," Caitlín recalls. "The place didn't have a stage. They didn't even have a sound tech. They literally built the stage between our sound check and the time the opening band went on. I think we were the only goth band Athens had ever seen, at least since the eighties, and there were a lot of confused faces in the crowd. We had these two huge jack-o'-lanterns burning on stage and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari playing on a big screen behind us. People actually seemed scared of us. But at least nobody booed."
Following the Halloween show, DLS performed numerous shows in Athens and Atlanta. Three Regrets and a Curse quickly sold out and the band began to plan a full-length CD, to be titled More Alms for Oblivion. Music reviewers started to notice them and one of the tracks off the cassette, a violent, growling cover of "House of the Rising Sun," was getting air play on Georgia college rock stations.
"It was a weird time. I was still waiting for Silk to sell and just getting started with Vertigo, and at the same time, we were rehearsing constantly. I mean all the time. We'd start about seven in the evening and go straight through to dawn, four or five nights a week. The guys converted the attic of an old house into a studio and it was a great space, but there was no heat up there and I think we all almost froze that winter."
DLS drew favorable comparisons to the likes of Joy Division, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Concrete Blonde, and Wall of Voodoo.
"I think the androgyny of my vocals was throwing a lot of people for a loop. We'd come on stage, and people would see us and they'd expect one thing and then hear something very different. That was great, seeing the faces up front."
But DLS would only last seven short months. Caitlín was beginning to have trouble juggling her responsibilities at Vertigo and her work with the band. Finally, she was forced to choose between her career as a writer and the band's desire for bigger and better things.
"We played our last show on February 4th, 1997, at the 40-Watt Club in Athens. It was a wonderful show. A great crowd. And then I called Barry Dillard, our guitarist, the next day and told him I couldn't keep it up. The rest of the band wanted to tour and there was simply no way for me to do that, without giving up my writing career, which I couldn't do. So I left. I encouraged Barry and Mike, our bass guitarist, to find another vocalist and they tried a few people, one in particular that I liked a lot. But within a month or so after that first show, everything had fallen apart and the group broke up."
After DLS, Caitlín wouldn't sing again until 1999, when she began working with two Birmingham guitarists, Kenn McKracken and Daniel Ferris, on a two-song CD to be released with the limited edition of Silk. The untitled disc featured a new version of "House of the Rising Song" (which Caitlín has sworn she'll never sing again) and a song from Silk, "Iron Lung." Though the trio called themselves Crimson Stain Mystery, it was strictly a studio project for Gauntlet, and there were never plans to play a live show.
"When I was working on the book, I thought, wouldn't it be cool to actually record some of the songs that Daria Parker's bands, Stiff Kitten and Yer Funeral, performed? A friend of mine, David Ferguson, wrote the lyrics for 'Iron Lung' and I used some of them in the book. So, when we started the CSM work, I pulled them out again and Kenn and Daniel wrote the music. The result was something very, very different from the old DLS sound. Ironically, the photograph that wound up on the disc was taken during a DLS performance."
Will Caitlín do more music or is that part of her career behind her?
"Yes, I'm planning to do another CD. Soon. I'm setting aside time, finding musicians I want to work with. It will happen. A long CD. I promise. But it'll be strictly a studio project. No more of the 'working' band thing for me."
Though copies of Three Regrets and a Curse are virtually impossible to find (even on eBay!), Gauntlet is still offering copies of the Silk disc and can be contacted at www.gauntletpress.com for price and ordering information.
Click here for Death's Little Sister song lyrics.
Coming soon: DLS mp3s! Meanwhile, download an mp3 of "Iron Lung." About "Iron Lung," Caitlín says, "I used a few lines from this song as the epigraph for the novel's epilogue. When Crimson Stain Mystery recorded the song in '99, about four years after the lyrics were written, I reworked them a little bit, but the version that went onto the Gauntlet CD wasn't that different from the original. It's latter-day punk, sort of Compulsion meets Concrete Blonde, loud and angry and fast and raw. I think we did this in one take, to try and keep that rawness, This is about as far from the sort of stuff that I was doing with Death's Little Sister as you can get, but it's pretty close to the way I'd imagined Yer Funeral sounding."
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