Maserati are ready.
Speaking with guitarist Coley Dennis, the band seems both stoic and stoked. In Zombieland terms, they are both the Jessie Eisenberg character carefully enumerating rules, and the Woody Harrelson character rapturously exterminating evil. For the past three years, Maserati have been picking up the pieces, placing them gracefully, and re-routing straight to the rhythm with precision and panache. Tonight they bring their newest offering, Maserati VII, to Champaign, along with a steady friendship, and their longest set ever.*
Maserati may be familiar to you, dear reader, by dint of their success with excellent records on Temporary Residence, or press since their late drummer Jerry Fuchs’ tragic passing. But most likely, if you know music in Champaign, you know Maserati because they toured with Absinthe Blind and Headlights back in the day, and even borrowed their guitarist, Tristan Wraight to fill in on later tours.
It doesn’t hurt that this town has a taste for post-rock. But don’t call them post-rock. Dennis discusses the band’s reputation as a post-rock outfit:
That happened very early on. Being an instrumental band, it usually applies more often than not. But we tried to grow out of it way early on. I think that a lot of bands that get lumped into that genre are fairly content with just kind of doing the same thing over and over, and we got quickly bored with that. We wanted to jump out of the box and try new shit and get into different things. If you look at our first record and the new record, it shows a massive evolution.
For the new record, the band hooked up with producer Kevin Ratterman, who drummed for seminal second-wave emo dreamers Elliott, and recently engineered My Morning Jacket’s album Circuital. “Kevin is the man. I cannot speak highly enough of him,” Dennis says. Ratterman indeed joined creative forces with the band at a very exciting time in its career. Maserati VII offers the same driving beats and mesmerizing guitar lines, but they’ve not played it safe here. As the album art belies, they’ve been digging into classic prog-rock like Genesis. Ratterman’s creative input is most evident on “Abracadabracab.”
We told him we wanted a Phil Collins drum thing, and he had tons and tons of toms and these huge 15-foot ceilings in this church. He did a few passes [playing drums]; he was really the orchestrator/mastermind. He built that drum solo out of stuff we did in rough demos. Mad credit.
But don’t call them prog rock. Though they are a progressive band, taking their sound and pushing it forward — and they have been accused of sounding like a Pink Floyd record played back at 45 rpm — but let’s not be reductive. The legacy of Fuchs lives on in their exploration of that upbeat energy and addition of electronic timbres to the mix. As Dennis said, sensing he meant it in more than one way, “Jerry propelled us.” They carry on his energy, and the commitment to being an ineffably tight live unit, having fun making the music they want and love above all else.
* Maserati plans to play an HOUR LONG set tonight at Cowboy Monkey. Tour and label mates Majeure and locals Take Care support. Show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.