Elliott McPherson and the Dexateens:

Success, Talent and Rock ’n Roll

by Vicki Johnson

For Elliott McPherson, music is a God-given talent.
Now 33 and a resident of Buhl, Ala., 20 miles west of Tuscaloosa, McPherson has been on the music scene for over a decade.
Growing up in Montgomery, rock ‘n’ roll music wasn’t permitted at home and it wasn’t until he went to college that he was exposed to punk rock and underground rock ‘n’ roll.
McPherson attended the University of Alabama on an art scholarship, but along the way found his calling in music. He and four other classmates formed the band Dexateens in 1998 after the members met at a local bar, the Chukker.
“The rock ‘n’ roll bar called the Chukker was sort of a community for artists and musicians. Everybody in the band at that point was influenced by stuff they were hearing and seeing and that’s where we all became acquainted with each other,” McPherson says.
As for the name Dexateens, McPherson thought it was catchy and rolled off the tongue. “At that time I always wanted to be in a band that had ‘teens’ in it. I don’t exactly know why,” McPherson explains. “There is an artist, Dexter Romweber, who was in a band called Flat Duo Jets. At the time when we were starting this band that was what I was listening to. He is still sort of one of my rock ‘n’ roll heroes and maybe the name from some sort of connection to him.”
When the Dexateens began, the group was inspired and heavily influenced by The Ramones. They also modeled themselves after the Quadrajets, an Auburn band they met at the Chukker and that band quickly became mentors to the Dexateens.
Tim Kerr, producer of the Quadrajets, became an important figure in the Dexateens’ lives. Kerr helped the newly formed band gain an identity by showcasing their strengths. “Tim sort of helped us discover ourselves. That’s sort of where our air of confidence came from, through the discoveries that we made when we were working with him,” McPherson says.
McPherson notes that over the years, the band has spent a considerable amount of time traveling but have always kept their perspective. “A lot of people really like our band but in the end that’s not why we do it. You do it because God gave you a talent and he expects you to use it, making joyful noise. That’s what we do. That’s what success is for us,” McPherson explains.
While members have come and gone, the music remains strong. The five-man band plays rock ‘n’ roll in its purist form. “We use a lot of things from country and gospel music but we sort of apply a punk rock aesthetic to it,” McPherson explains.
The Dexateens played their first show at the Chukker in 1998 and since then have produced one EP (extended play) and five full-length records. They are currently producing their sixth record. The Dexateens have been to most of the rock ‘n’ roll clubs in the Southeast and have traveled up and down the East Coast for shows and performances.
As far as success, Elliott has put his own take on the word. “That ‘made it’ term is a myth. Success is whatever you deem it to be and I think we succeeded a long time ago when we figured out the strengths of the band, and I think that was success for us,” McPherson explains.
The Dexateens, now 12 years old, are a very family oriented band. Many of the band members have children and providing for their families has become an important priority. Having a background in art, Elliott started McPherson Woodcraft in 2002 where he builds custom kitchen and bath cabinets on his property in Buhl. The area was an ideal place to raise a family and create a business to support them.
In addition to the business, Elliott has been creating lightboxes, which are similar to shadowboxes and contain found objects that give a nod back to the past. McPherson recently had a show at The Bottletree Cafe, displaying and selling the boxes alongside musician and songwriter, Will Johnson, who creates portraits of legendary baseball players.
As for the Dexateens, it has been a satisfying and successful journey, and one that continues for McPherson and the band members.
“A lot of people would say that we have not succeeded because we haven’t sold a million records and we’re not selling out venues that seat 2,000 people,” McPherson says.
“That’s some people’s idea of success, but that’s never been our idea. I’ve longed for it, but we never really let that deem what success is.”
For Elliott, music is satisfying, but so are the many other things in his life. “Sometimes you start off with an inspiration or sometimes you find it along the way,” he says.
“Being a successful musician is about the idea to record and follow through, that’s success,” McPherson says. “And if people like it then great, and if they don’t then it doesn’t matter. If you are pleased with your efforts and you really tried your best than that’s success.”
For more information about Elliott McPherson or to listen to music by the Dexateens, visit their facebook fan page or go to www.dexateens.net

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