Attracting an increasingly number of fans after the release of their 2002 debut, Read Music/Speak Spanish, the post-hardcore band Desaparecidos split up that same year after lead singer Conor Oberst, made it big with his own band, Bright Eyes.
The band had finally gained some momentum after appearing on MTV’s You Hear It First
as the featured act and touring with well-known bands such as Jimmy Eat World and the Promise Ring. However, Oberst’s newfound success with Bright Eyes meant that the other members would have to move on while the band was on hold.
“At the time, it didn’t feel right,” says guitarist Denver Dalley via phone when asked about the band’s split. “It felt like it was spread too thin. It didn’t feel as natural as it should have. I think we’re all glad with the way it turned out now. I think if we would’ve kept going back then, it wouldn’t have been the same thing. I think that we’re better for it.”
Desaparecidos reunited in 2010 to play a benefit concert and has come back with a new album, Payola
, which arrived just last month. The band’s reunion transpired after a one-off charity show in 2010 and then, two years later, they announced they were back together and touring again. Though they have released a few new songs after the announcement of their reunion, this year was their first full-length release since then.
“To me, it sounds loud, angry and catchy,” says Dalley when asked about the new album. “There’s a definite — not a pop element — but there’s something about it that’s more melodic than just a purely loud, angry hardcore band. There’s something about it that’s got the melodic element of the Pixies but with the anger and values of Fugazi.”
When the band started out in 2001, members were just in their early twenties, and now after coming out with their first LP in 13 years, they are hoping for a more mature sound.
“I think it still has the same chaotic energy but to me it seems a little more focused. I think that we’re all a little bit more experienced, hopefully, better musicians than we were when we were 19,” says Dalley about the band’s maturation. “It sounds a little bit more precise and less sloppy basically. It still has the same chaotic live energy.”
The band’s lyrics are like a breath of fresh air due to the fact that they contain both social and political commentary, which seems to be difficult to find these days unless it’s in the form of an angry rant by a rap artist.
“I think there’s still a lot of the issues from the first album are unresolved and I think there’s still getting over frustration with that, but the big catalyst that kind of got us going again was immigration rights and the treatment of new American citizens,” Dalley says. “I think a lot of the same themes are on both records. I think the first one was we’re singing about America and the world from the perspective around the backyard and it was more a concept album and this one, each song is about a different one, but there’s still an underlying theme of money controls everything, there’s someone watching, taking apart what’s become this standard American dream, and what’s expected of us.”
The new album was recorded in several sessions over the past few years and featured producer Mike Mogis, who’s famous for having done the score for the 2014 film, The Fault In Our Stars. Payola also features appearances by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and Tim Kasher from Cursive, the latter of which the band cites as a major influence. "City on the Hill," which features Kasher, is a modern, angry punk anthem about money and power, but it still has pop sensibilities with shouts of "oh oh, oh oh!" Another track from the record with a rather interesting title, "MariKKKopa", (which actually was supposed to include an appearance from Rage Against The Machine's Zack de La Rocha) was written shortly after the 2010 benefit concert and shows two polar opposite sides of Oberst's voice: his emo screaming and folksy, Band of Horses-esque singing." Political lyrics, uptempo, pop-punk songs and loud guitars distinguish the band's music.
The recording process for the album was actually rather unconventional.
“We rented this house, and we were able to just hang out and have campfires and just you know talk about stuff and lyric material and it was really an ideal, amazing experience,” says Dalley. “We were very fortunate to be able to do that. I know not everyone can leave town for a few days to do that sort of thing. I think it was really awesome and really helpful in our writing.”
As for their upcoming live tour, Dalley says that after a decade-long hiatus the band’s chemistry is now better than ever.
“That was the thing that really blew us all away when we got together and played that show in 2010,” he says. “There was no awkward transition. I think that’s what really impressed us and made us all individually want to be a band again and not just do a reunion thing. We wanted to hang out and have band practice and play shows and I think the record was a by-product of that.”
Desaparecidos, the So So Glos, the Banddroidz, 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216-321-5588. Tickets: $23 ADV, $25 DOS, grogshop.gs.