I've always written about the adventures of Xan Marcelles and his small-tavern band, Crooked Fang. They aren't too famous, but those who do know them are some of the best fans a vampire could ever ask for. Imagine my surprise when I was invited to share an evening and a drink with the prolific bassist. I'm the one behind the camera; rarely do I get my due.
“We need to change that,” he said over the phone. His voice was just as I always imagined it to be; deep, free of accent to the point of flatness.
He was right of course. A quick plane ride over and then back again. Just long enough to sit and stare at the man I'd dreamed up nine years ago. His skin was a little darker than I imagined, yet it fit him. The black rivers of inky tresses were left loose and flowing to trail over his neck and shoulder and drape down the back of his chair.
He fiddled with Sasha (his guitar) as we talked, and every so often, I caught a glimpse of those lupine fangs. I didn't ask to see them fully, and he never bared them at me. It's a sign of aggression or sexuality in his world, and I deserved nor desired either from him. Plus, I think he knew just how much his survival depended on mine.
Still, I felt like prey in his presence, with his dark indigo jeans and scuffed black and buckled boots. I almost expected to see spurs jangling off the heel, because for all points and purposes, Xan struck me as cowboy. He was a loner, a tough guy, stoic and strong. He was content to be left to his guitar and his drink, but something always interfered with his quest to be 'normal' again.
If it wasn't for the defined jawline and the nose that was almost too big for his face, he would have been beautiful. As it was, the dimpled chin and dark brows pulling together over storm-colored eyes made me stare.
“I take it you're satisfied,” he said with a cocky grin. Another discreet flash of fang. His eyes surveyed the mingling crowds of Pale Rider's after show. The drink we held was the last for the night except for Xan. He gripped the neck of a whiskey bottle and caressed its curve like a lover. I watched his fingers: long, quick; for guitar or a trigger.
He lit a cigarette and endured my examinations, draping an arm over the deep blue electric bass guitar. The strings plucked wrong with no electricity, and I asked him if I was going to hear him play tonight.
“Maybe later,” was his response. “You have to interview me, y'know, justify that big deal trip you made up here.”
“Right,” I said, internally disappointed but I forced a smile. The fact that I was here was incredulous enough.
“So ask away,” he said, plucking an E note. He sat the guitar aside and fished in his shirt pocket for a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He threw them on the table to join mine after lighting up.
“We can do it like Rolling Stone,” he said, a timid smile approaching those lips. “With the initials and everything.”
So that's what I did. Enjoy:
CC: You're a vampire, don't you have to sleep in a crypt somewhere?
XM: Y'know I've been asked that question more than any other. I don't. It's not that I'm not supposed to, I just don't. Next question.
CC: Sensitive on that, alright, let's switch gears. Your music. It's really good, and Serv's voice is nothing beneath astonishingly heartbreaking. Why don't you pursue a career? No one has to know it's you. You can disguise yourself—
XM: Hold it right there. Isn't that what I do now? Hide from people that just might recognize me? They say it gets easier once everyone you know is dead. It's the same reason for taking the band into the spotlight. We're thinking of going all vampire because Josh and Jason are really getting antsy about wanting to make it big.
CC: Does anyone at Pale Rider besides Serv know what you really are?
XM: I'm assuming you mean vampire. Nope, not yet. I've fiddled with the idea of telling Charlie, but I'm not sure if it's really even necessary. People get scared when they hear the word “vampire” tossed around. Or they laugh and try to ignore it. We aren't fucking funny, I'll tell you that.
CC: I don't know about that, you crack me up most days...
XM: That's the part I play now in your evil scheme. Apparently, I'm one hell of a funny dead guy.
CC: You sound disappointed...
XM: Well hell yes I am. I've got a reputation to keep, and doing goofy shit like fucking up my chances with girls just ain't cute, y'know? Get back to the story questions. And finish your drink—you've barely touched it.
CC: Well I am having to make notes here, and I have to stay somewhat sober to make sense of your words.
CC: I mean make sure I add them as they are said, slurs and all.
XM: (laughs) I'm not drunk yet!
CC: Tell me about your life growing up. Who influenced you the most?
XM: First, it was my mom. She was real busy trying to support me and my sister...
CC: You have a sister?
XM: Oh, Don't EVEN act surprised...
CC: I don't think everyone knows about her.
XM: Oh, right. Yeah she's married with a kid now, out somewhere in California. I hear she married a producer.
CC: So she's about the same 'age' as you then?”
XM: She's forty-somethin', if that's what you're askin'. So in short, she's my baby sister.
CC: Pretty much. Back to your mom and your life. Didn't mean to interrupt...
XM: (rolls eyes) Thank you for the courtesy. Can I cuss on this?
CC: You already have once.
XM: Oh shit. I mean...
CC: (laughing) Yes Xan, you can curse all you want.
XM: Awesome. Yeah, Mom died when I was eight, and then I went to live with my dad in Colorado. Devan stayed on the res and grew up differently.
CC: Devan's your sister?”
XM: Yeah. Devan Nez.
CC: She has a different last name...
XM: Okay, let's get something out in the open. Xan Marcelles is a fake name for my bad-ass vampire self. My name was Gabriel Nez. Nice and simple, huh?
CC: Gabriel like the angel?
XM: Oh shut up.
CC: How was life with your dad?
XM: He was a ladies' man, but respectful of women at the same time.
CC: So your parents were never married...
XM: Nope, and somehow that shit seemed normal back then, y'know? Hell, it's normal today for damn sure.
CC: When did you start playing guitar?
XM: Dad gave me a guitar for my birthday when I turned seventeen. I was into sports before I broke my ankle playing basketball. Anyway, because I was totally miserable, Dad gave me a guitar, but it wasn't a guitar. It was a bass guitar. He offered to take it back, but I fell in love with it. Thing was heavy as fuck but I stuck with it.
CC: So it was just kind of handed to you. You didn't 'discover' your love for music...
XM: Naw, I always loved music, but you gotta remember, this was back in the sixties and seventies. We didn't have iPods then. So you just kinda sat around and listened to records, which was kinda neat.
CC: What was the coolest thing your dad gave you? The guitar?
XM: 1967 Camaro RS. I still got her. Dad and I worked on it together. She wasn't well-taken care of and the engine was fucked to hell because some guy'd gotten it for his kid who destroyed the poor thing in like 3 years. It sat in his garage til my dad talked him into selling it. By that time, it'd been sitting for like a decade already.
CC: What kind of schooling did you have?
XM: I graduated in Colorado and went on to college. It was what people did when they got out of school. More school.
CC: What did you study?
XM: Commercial art. (laughs) Bet you didn't think I could draw...
CC: Crazy, never would have guessed it.
XM: Yeah, I was a different person then. Tall, skinny, geeky, like you guys say now.
CC: How did you change that?
XM: Worked out. A fuckload. I decided I wanted to be a bodybuilder or some shit. I doubt I would've kept it up past when I got dropped as a vampire.
CC: You mean turned into one.
XM: Yeah, that. So Zeta got me at the fucking apex of my manhood you could say. (grins)
CC: But you said you were a mechanic, not an artist.
XM: I love cars, so yeah, I worked on them. Well, I changed oil and tires. Fuck, you've busted me now. It was a part-time job, and I wasn't certified or anything. Just like to tinker.
CC: So, Crooked Fang...what's the story behind that?
XM; Been with these guys for a few years now. I came up with Crooked Fang. It just sounded hella cool. I came here to Pale Rider after I left the bitch that turned me and took room and board in exchange for forming a house band that could bring in business.
CC: Do you guys play anything besides cover songs?
CC: I bet you get a lot of female attention.
XM: You could say that. (smirks)
CC: Xan, it's been a real pleasure.
XM: Likewise. Next time, I'm going to interview you.
We parted ways soon after that. He had his rehearsing to do, and I had to get back to my own life and work. The baby was sleeping when I came in, and I kissed her forehead. I love all of my children.
August 13, 2009