At their first performance, Lord T & Eloise took the opening slot for Nasty Nardo and Chopper Girl's group Memphis Babylon during a sold-out rap show at the Hi-Tone Café. Their second appearance, slated for Newby's this Saturday, November 25th, promises even more: sets from Neighborhood Texture Jam, the FeelHarmonic DJs, and Al Kapone, props galore, and copies of Lord T & Eloise's brand-new CD, Aristocrunk, for sale.
"We're rehearsing at The Orpheum right now," jokes Lord Treadwell, aka Cameron Mann, a few days before the big gig.
He and his rapping partner, Maurice Eloise XIII (Robert Anthony) are rehearsing, but their practice space hardly resembles a movie palace. Instead, it's located in the oh-so-ordinary digs of their bandmate, Elliott Ives, who creates beats for the duo under the moniker Myster E.
Although this will only be the second live performance for Lord T & Eloise, Mann, Anthony, and Ives have the pastiche down pat.
"I was surprised I wasn't nervous," Mann says of the Hi-Tone concert, which occurred in early September. "Part of it was being in costume -- Cameron wasn't present at all, and I was able to have fun onstage."
"My mustache fell off because I was sweating too hard, and I didn't have enough glue on it," Ives says with a chuckle. "I said fuck it -- I was having a blast."
Ives, who works with bands Rabid Villain and Free Sol when he's not moonlighting with Lord T & Eloise, says that portraying Myster E is "definitely a different side of what I do. I like to make beats, I like to sing, and I think it's easier to do both those things as another character. I don't like to talk to people about me. It's easier to write lyrics and easier to make fun of stuff as Myster E. We just have fun, have a few drinks, and rap."
That first sold-out show, says Anthony, validated the group: "It [proved] that our concept [spoofing hip-hop excess by connecting to the excess of the band's Victorian nobility characters] was tangible, that people understood what we were doing. It's a one-act play as much as it's music, and with our next show, we're upping the ante. We'll have some funny stuff. Our original concept was to build a ramp in Newby's and ride through the crowd on Segways with spinners on 'em. Now I think we're gonna set the stage up like a study, and we'll have some armed guards and other props, just make it as absurd as possible."
The absurdity is certainly tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn't always get the laugh that the trio is going for. "There has been some elitist commentary about the power of the upper class," Anthony notes of some online criticism of the group.
"None of us really have jets," he deadpans. "It's just satire. I don't know, maybe the American psyche is so beat down that everyone's walking on eggshells right now."
Yet even audience members who fail to see the lyrical humor in tracks like "Million Dollar Boots" and "Cashmere" can't overlook the perfectly crafted hooks and sonically brilliant beats.
"A lot of our songs are concept-oriented social commentaries," Mann says. "They're funny songs, but they're also a bit dark. We make fun of plastic surgery, but as Lord T and Eloise, we're also indulging in it."
He and Anthony have full-time day jobs, but, says Mann, they're not averse to touring. Nevertheless, he maintains, "the future of this band is the Internet. I want to continue making videos ["Million Dollar Boots," directed by Old School Pictures, made its debut at the Live From Memphis showcase at last month's Indie Memphis Film Festival] and build the buzz through YouTube, MySpace, and other online outlets. I'm also curious about licensing. What if 'Drastically Plastic' ended up on Dr. 90210?
"So many people have gotten in touch with us via the Internet," Mann says. "Some of them think it's real, and some of them are in on the joke. What we do is visual, so people need to see these characters. That way, the myth can continue to evolve."
Lord T & Eloise with Al Kapone, Neighborhood Texture Jam, and the FeelHarmonic DJs at Newby's, Saturday, November 25th. Showtime is 9 p.m.; cover is $10.