Desaparecidos guitarist Denver Dalley talks BLUNT through all things organic that culminated in the band’s first album in 13 years.
After an eight-year absence that followed the release of their debut album, Read Music/Speak Spanish, Desaparecidos – the band otherwise known as ‘Conor Oberst’s punk band’ – reunited in 2010 to play the Concert For Equality. A few more festivals followed, and with more shows came new music – “MariKKKopa”, “Backsell”, “Anonymous”, “The Left Is Right”, “Te Amo Camila Vallejo”, and “The Underground Man” all drip-fed as self-released double A-sides by the band over a period of time stretching as far back as 2012. “In 2004 we had four or five songs written and we were in the midst of writing more and then it just all got to be too much, especially with Conor’s touring schedule, and I had started Statistics around then. Of those tracks one or two made it to this album. “We started playing again back in 2010 and were writing in chunks as our schedules would allow, and we would record them as we went, which is why we ended up putting out those EPs, and as it kept progressing we were like, ‘We actually have enough for an album here…’” The band, “almost as a joke in passing”, told their manager that it’d be great if he could take the album to someone like Epitaph, not thinking it a real option, but he took it as real and took it to the label. “The next tour we were on they had just signed Joyce Manor, so we were backstage on the couches hanging out with the Joyce Manor guys and Brett [Gurewitz] came in and we were all just talking and nerding out about comics and guitars and finally he said, ‘Well I should probably go find these Desaparecidos guys’ and we were like, ‘That’s us!’ He said, ‘I thought you were just Joyce Manor’s buddies or something’ and we’re like, ‘We are!’ So we had an immediate, awesome rapport with him, and great chemistry. It was a really organic meeting.” Impressed by the first six songs Epitaph signed the band to release the album, and they set about recording the rest. Payola was constructed in a more collaborative manner than its predecessor, and Dalley acknowledges and apologises for the overuse of the adjective organic while explaining: “Before, I’d come in with all the parts and we’d assemble it together, this album was more like I’d come in with a riff, or just an intro or a verse, and we’d fill it all out together; it was more of an organic, collaborative process – lyrically, too. It felt like more of a team effort. “A lot of times it just starts with some weird sound I’ll make on a guitar, and then we’ve got the first part and Conor’s vocal melody will dictate where it goes from there.” Most recent single “City On The Hill” begins as such – an aggressive robotic trill sandwiched between chunky, foot-stomping chords. The mention of the song brings the guitar nerd in Dalley, the one hanging out with Joyce Manor and Brett incognito, out in full flight. “For me ‘City On The Hill’ was the most exciting because I was able to do this little delay trick that I’d actually done on the first album but it wasn’t very prominent, so I was very stoked on that,” he beams. “And I get to tap at the end, which was my other goal; I’ve always wanted to have a tapping, quote unquote ‘shredding guitar solo’.” There’s no quote unquote about it – that lead fucking shreds.
“WE WERE ALL JUST TALKING AND NERDING OUT ABOUT COMICS AND GUITARS.” DENVER DALLEY