It’s Thursday night in Austin. The dance floor is packed as country music’s Jesse Dayton plays his weekly gig at The Broken Spoke. Fast forward to the weekend and Dayton has been transformed into Captain Clegg, the zombified band leader of the Night Creatures, ready to perform hillbilly horror songs “Dead, in Person!”
“You’re not gonna find another place as accepting of a country singer turned horror singer,” says Dayton when asked about Austin. “I’m a progressive guy. That’s one of the reasons I live here.”
How Dayton became Clegg
“Being Captain Clegg has changed my life,” explains Dayton. “I was opening for Social Distortion in California when I got a call from Rob Zombie. I’d already worked with Rob, doing the Banjo & Sullivan record for his film, The Devil’s Rejects. That experience was unbelievable, and well, a fluke.”
“Anyway, Rob came out and offered me a part in Halloween II, the movie he was writing and directing. He wanted me to be the horror band leader. Rob and I had a blast creating my alter-ego, Captain Clegg.” Dayton later wrote 10 songs for the Halloween II soundtrack. Many of those songs were written in a haunted hotel suite in the New Orleans French Quarter.
The success of Halloween II, coupled with Rob Zombie’s incredible following, exposed Jesse Dayton to an entirely different fan base: those who love horror movies, and heavy metal music fans. Dayton went on the road with Rob Zombie’s “Hellbilly Deluxe 2 Tour” performing as Captain Clegg. Clegg and The Night Creatures hit 40 cities, playing mostly large arenas as the opening act for Zombie.
Dayton’s compact disc, Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures, features the songs he wrote for the movie. The album has been picked up by the nationwide retailer Hot Topic, exposing Dayton’s music to a young audience. Dayton says Hot Topic is now “totally sold out of all Captain Clegg CDs”, and demand for them remains high.
The Hellbilly 2 Tour Documentary
Some of Dayton’s country music fans “just don’t get” why he went on tour with Rob Zombie. “It’s really no different than Waylon (Jennings) going on the road with The Allman Brothers,” says Dayton.
To answer this frequent fan question, Jesse Dayton made a documentary. The film takes viewers backstage in huge arenas for behind-the-scenes happenings. It contains plenty of performance footage. “You’ll see Captain Clegg in full costume,” Dayton promises. The film also spotlights the go-go dancing of Mistress Clegg, Austin-based actress Emily Kaye, who is Jesse Dayton’s wife. The documentary will be released soon. Check the Jesse Dayton or Captain Clegg websites for details.
Hard workin’ honky tonker
Jesse Dayton worked hard to get where he is today. The story folks tell - that he walked into his record company (a major label) and “fired” them mid-contract - is true. In 2000, Dayton founded his own label, Stag Records, and “never looked back”.
“I’m too edgy for Nashville,” Dayton laughs. “What distinguishes me from my contemporaries is that while everyone else was trying to get a hit song on the radio, I was in L.A. building relationships. There are 38 original Jesse Dayton songs placed in soundtracks for film and TV.”
But Dayton does work with Nashville as long as he can “still be exactly who (he wants) to be”. His video “Baby I’m Coming Home” can be seen on both CMT and GAC country music channels. “This is a song about a soldier,” says Dayton. “There’s really no politics when you’re in a foxhole saving your brother.”
When asked which CD he would recommend to Examiner readers, Dayton had a surprising answer. “Right now I’m tellin’ everyone about Mike Stinson’s new record, Jukebox In Your Heart. It’s on my label, Stag Records. It’s the best thing I’ve ever produced and hands down my hottest guitar pickin’ ever.”
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