John Darnielle Explains Role As Chloë Sevigny’s Bandmate On New TV Show Poker Face

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John Darnielle Explains Role As Chloë Sevigny’s Bandmate On New TV Show Poker Face


Poker Face is a new TV series on Peacock starring Natasha Lyonne, created with Knives Out/Glass Onion director Rian Johnson. It’s an old-school mystery-of-the-week style detective show, and it’s getting good reviews. In the fourth episode, “Rest in Metal,” Mountain Goats mastermind John Darnielle, a well-known metalhead, stars as a member of Doxxxology, a one-hit wonder metal band fronted by Chloë Sevigny as the fictitious Ruby Ruin. Darnielle also worked with with Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed to write Doxxxology’s early-2000s hit “Staple Head” as well as their attempted comeback single “Merch Girl.”

Darnielle talked to Pitchfork about his involvement in the show. Here he is on the process of writing “Staple Head”:

In the early 2000s, there was that Hot Topic moment, where bands like Lacuna Coil were doing pretty good. Avenged Sevenfold were getting big. So we thought about that kind of stuff—metallic, very hard. They had a punk sheen, but a metal attitude. So Jamey wrote the music, and all we know about this [from the script] is the chorus is supposed to go, “Staple head!” I had a conversation with my wife about it, because I always try to throw a bunch of extra words into my choruses. My wife said, “No, a chorus for a song like that just goes, ‘Staple head! Staple head!’” [laughs] So I worked the rest of it around that. Jamey hired a local singer from a Judas Priest cover band, a young woman who tracks the vocals that Chloë lip syncs on the show. I wrote the lyrics and the vocal melodies and determined the structure, and Jamey wrote the music and laid down everything else. This is the case with all the songs that you hear on there, except for the one that I play unaccompanied.

He also explained that he’s been in touch with Rian Johnson for many, many years:

He ordered a T-shirt from a zine that I used to do with Mountain Goats. We did one of those small, 50 T-shirt runs in 2001, when he would’ve been probably 18 or 19. Then we moved to Durham in 2003 and over in Chapel Hill, they were showing a movie called Brick [Johnson’s directorial debut]. I heard about it so I went to see this movie, and when I saw the credits roll, the music was credited to the Hospital Bomber Experience [Johnson’’s cousin]. Now that’s a reference to a song of mine called “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton.” I pointed to the screen and said, “Hey, that’s a Mountain Goats reference!” So I wrote to him and told him I saw the reference, and we’ve stayed in touch.

The first four episodes of Poker Face are streaming now on Peacock. Revisit our recent We’ve Got A File On You interview with Darnielle.

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