David Bowie’s passing meant something different for everyone, but for Scot Sax, it was an amplification of what it means to be alive. “When Bowie died,” he said, “I remember thinking, ‘you only get one shot, because even David Bowie can die.’” And thus, much like the various personas of his idol, Sax stripped himself of his own Grammy-winning identity and Mr. Chocolate was born.
Recorded live within a mere two days, the six song album features former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer and Bob Dylan guitarist John Jackson, with Sax playing what he refers to as “weird keyboards.” In fact, “weird keyboards” might be the most accurate way to put it; while it’s definitely a rock and roll album, there’s something otherworldly about the combination of jazz riffs, distorted fuzz, and gouging disposition that each song has to offer. There’s no set genre, a quality that Sax has also picked up from Bowie, who was a master at transcending any form of set category.
“Two Under Two” exhibits spacey alternative, the lyrics contrasting touring life with fatherhood. “Double Neck” displays an alien groove that only Ziggy Stardust could imitate. “The World is a Teenage Bedroom” is a homage to the viewpoints of an adolescent, which a concept that Mr. Chocolate was solidly based on as well; when the group was first brought into Coomer’s Nashville studio, Sax announced to his newly formed group, “We’re sixteen years old.” “Not Gonna Hate You Anymore” is about a lost friendship, with a backing synth as haunting and lonely as the topic itself.
The rawness of the live recordings can be felt in every guitar riff, in every strange synthesizer; while listening to Mr. Chocolate in its entirety, one can find it impossible to believe that one form of Sax’s main recognition was writing songs for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. While listening to “Double Neck,” it sounds unreal that his band Wanderlust reached mainstream success with their poppy, albeit grungy, single “I Walked” (which helped them to get a gig opening for 90’s relics Collective Soul).
When Bowie first started out, it was under his birth name, Davy Jones. He lacked originality and depth, which prompted his earliest attempt at success to ultimately tank. It wasn’t until 1969, under the name David Bowie, that his single “Space Oddity” sparked mass attention; and the rest is history. “I listened to Space Oddity – I listened to freaky, bisexual, deep wild albums,” Sax says about growing up during the era of Bowie’s superstardom. Perhaps Wanderlust was Scot Sax’s Davy Jones-era. While the groups singles were really good, it lacked the substance needed to truly instigate attention and adoration. Mr. Chocolate takes listeners on an abstract trip through era and genre, eclipsing today’s meaningless songs for a time when music used to really and truly mean something. For lack of better phrasing, Mr. Chocolate is Scot Sax’s very own Space Oddity.