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Wicked Americana

Austin-based songwriter Jesse Dayton directed and wrote his first feature film that screened at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Austin-based songwriter Jesse Dayton directed and wrote his first feature film that screened at the Cannes International Film Festival.
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Jesse Dayton is not a man to rest on his laurels.

The Austin-based songwriter has built a cult following around the globe playing festivals in North America and Europe for years.

And for the past 17 months, Dayton has put his time into his first feature film, “Zombex.”

“I’ve been working in film for years now,” he says during a recent interview. “I wanted to take a chance and write and direct a film. It’s been a long road, but it’s finally finished.”

Dayton’s luck doesn’t stop there. The film recently screened at the Cannes International Film Festival and was picked up by a distributor.

“Not bad for a first-time venture,” he says. “It’s great to have people respond to the film and I can’t wait to get it into theaters.”

“Zombex” stars Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, John Doe and Lew Temple. Dayton says the film is set in post-Katrina New Orleans where survivors are given prescription drugs that turn them into zombies.

“I had this idea when I heard a commercial for a prescription drug,” he says. “I got the idea, pulled over my car and wrote the treatment. Then I had to think of a name that sounded pharmaceutical and came up with ‘Zombex.’ ”

Dayton also wrote the soundtrack to “Zombex,” which he says was a great experience.

“The music was inspired by the film and I can’t wait for people to hear it because it’s a departure from what I usually do,” he says. “Soundtracks are fun to do because there is one focal point and that’s the film.”

Dayton also has worked on the soundtracks to Rob Zombie’s film “The Devils Rejects” and “Halloween 2.”

Dayton has been performing his blend of country-infused Americana sound for years. He’s even had the honor of working with Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson and Glen Campbell.

“I’ve had a colorful life filled with great high points,” he says. “Venturing out to film is something new and I think I’m beginning to enjoy it.”

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