Smile Politely

Meddling Maserati

In the worlds of fast cars and post-rock, there exists no margin for error. One wrong movement at the wrong time will separate the legends from the losers, and with a name like Maserati one can most certainly expect a reputation described by the former term. Hailing ironically from Athens, Georgia (a town named after not a Italian, but a Greek city), the post-rock/space-rock band sharing this fabled name lives up to it’s invigorating expectations with driving electronic and melodic jams after 14 record releases since the year of MM. After all, the original Maserati brothers who founded the race car company did base their logo on the trident found at the Fountain of Neptune, a deity of not just the seas but also of horse-racing.

Speaking of horsepower, the bands reputable has held strongly over the years. Pitchfork has compared them to some of my favorite classic post-rock bands, most notably Mogwai, but their influences seems to reach far past the 1990’s. Their last album, Maserati VII, was an epic of a release, with electronic jams that throw back to the classic prog-rock of the 1970’s, especially in tracks like “Flashback” or “Abracadabracab”. While some of their songs can reach the 10 minute mark in usual post-rock fashion, the rhythm is just sublimely paced. Yet not all of their songs are stuck in high gear–tracks like “Lunar Drift” offer a calming dash of ambience in between the fast-paced mesaures of soaring space-rock.

This weekend, Maserati will be lining up at the Highdive’s Outdoor Stage #2 at 7:45 p.m., right before American Football plays the main outdoor stage. Earlier this week I had a chance to talk to guitarist Coley Dennis about what they’ve been up to since their last album.

Smile Politely: I read on your Facebook page that you guys have a couple new songs to share. Care to drop any track titles or details on this?

Coley Dennis: We have three brand new songs for this trip, one we have played live once but have still been tweaking that one a bit. Still no song titles yet but needless to say we are really excited to play these live, I personally think it’s some of the best stuff we’ve ever done.

SP: Some of your songs seem to derive space-rock elements from the era of classic 1970’s prog-rock. Would you agree, and how do you feel these contribute to post-rock in the broader scope of contemporary rock?

Dennis: We definitely are fans of that Meddle through Animals era Pink Floyd, I think it’s influenced our guitar playing since the inception of the band. As far as the synth elements we’ve tried more and more to push that element of our new music and the writing process. We’ve been influenced from 70s era Tangerine Dream, Vangelis as well as some contemporaries like Juan Maclean, Todd Terje, Steve Moore, etc.

SP: Describe the atmosphere of some of your spacier songs. What kind of  settings do you imagine for these? What kinds of equipment contribute most to your electronic sounds?

Dennis: Specifically, Lunar Drift was written in the La La Land studios of Kevin Ratterman. He has this amazing Korg Trident(the Vangelis BladeRunner synth) and it sounded amazing! Best string synths I’ve ever heard and totally added the flavor to that song in particular.

SP: The majority of your songs seem to be instrumental, with exception to one or two in Maserati VII, such as “Sun Exodus”. What attracts you guys to the vocal-free side of post-rock and what circumstances led to these few exceptions?

Dennis: We’ve never really been attracted to doing vocals, not doing vocals for the sake of having a certain sound or something. When we started writing we did because we didn’t think there was a place for vocals but now we completely embrace the idea of vocals if we feel the song needs it. I hate the limiting feeling of “ohh you don’t have vocals so you are a post rock band” or whatever. We’ve always strived for something more than that and I think we’ve done a pretty great job of developing a sound that stands apart from other bands.

SP: Have you ever played in Champaign-Urbana before, or at Pygmalion Music Festival before?

Dennis: Yes! We’ve been playing in Champaign-Urbana since the beginning basically. That’s how we met the Absinthe Blind folks, Seth Fein, etc. This is our third Pygmalion I believe. Champaign has become a second home to us of sorts with the close friendships we have developed there and are really looking forward to return!

SP: Any other exciting shows coming up this fall?

Dennis: No, just this short run. We’re really trying to focus on the material for the new record but really wanted to road test these new jams, we always benefit from doing that rather than straight to the studio.

Catch Maserati’s rolling start at 7:45 p.m. this Sunday at Highdive Outdoor stage #2 during the Pygmalion Festival.

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