Savannah’s Casket Girls have gothic background 

Flannery O’Connor could not have imagined a better Southern gothic tale than the origin story of Savannah, Ga., trio The Casket Girls.

The band, which plays The City Tuesday night promoting its sophomore album “True Love Kills the Fairy Tale,” began after musician-producer Ryan Graveface, strolling through a Savannah town square three years ago, stumbled across Elsa and Phaedra Greene singing softly to themselves under a shady tree with an autoharp.

Graveface, whose musical projects include Dreamend, The Marshmallow Ghosts and Black Moth Super Rainbow, was unprepared for the sisters, who manifested before him like antebellum apparitions.

He watched them from a distance, then walked up to introduce himself. He couldn’t believe his good fortune.

“I had just posted on Facebook a desperate plea for a Shangri-Las rip-off band, with a garage-y but modern sound,” he says. “And I didn’t get a single response. But later that week, I happened upon them. Not that they sound anything like The Shangri-Las — no offense!”

“None taken!” replies Phaedra Greene, also on a conference call with her mentor. “Ryan certainly has a flair for the dramatic, but the ironic thing is, all of this stuff is true.”

The sisters’ backstory is even stranger. With a cushion of family money, the home-schooled girls were living together with no concept of a musical career.

“We didn’t really do much of anything,” Phaedra Greene says. “We spent our time writing, working on the great American novel, which I still hope to finish. Elsa and I have this idea that it’ll be more of a Faulknerian thing, with our separate narratives that collide.”

Graveface gave the siblings four songs, then waited and waited. Nine months ticked by. They weren’t answering their phone. He dropped in on them, to find a tearful Elsa reciting original poems while Phaedra, trancelike, was committing the words to paper.

The next day, they handed him a CD of completed vocal demos. “It didn’t sound anything like I thought it would sound — it sounded so much better,” Graveface says.

“Which was only because we didn’t know what we were doing!” Greene interjects.

The otherworldly aura of the single “Sleepwalking” complements other songs on the album: the dreamy “True Love” and velvet-textured, heavenly harmony of “Same Side” and “Ashes and Embers.”

Greene is still amazed Graveface overheard her that fateful day. “Because we weren’t even that loud,” she says. “So it was kind of creepy, too, because he was definitely spying on us!”


The Casket Girls

Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $10

Contact: (415) 626-4455,

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Tom Lanham

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