We ask a lot from our rock and roll bands. In addition to the obvious (playing good music), we want them to blindside us with a socio-political agenda, draw us in as intimates, tell us about their every shattered relationship and mended wound, infuse their lyrics with a searching spiritual undertone and then, after all that, make us feel better about being alive. People want to feel like they’ve got a friend hiding underneath their speakers — that’s why folks cried when Jim Morrison, Ian Curtis and even Aaliyah died, despite the fact that they’d never met them.
Denali will certainly make you happy to be counted among the living — you would enjoy a 40 minute listening session with cozy pillows, lights low, and Maura Davis’s flittering, chilling voice lulling you into a coma, wouldn’t you? Indeed, it’s hard to find fault in the desolate Arctic desert soundscape invoked by their 2002 self-titled debut. Bassist Keely Davis and drummer Jonathan Fuller had already been exploring rock’s more somber edges since their post-hardcore band Engine Down’s second record, but the jilted edges still stuck out defiantly; it took a completely new environment and a woman’s touch to finally pull them into a world where might always succumbed to mood. And while the flock of listeners that whole-heartedly embraced Denali as one of Jade Tree’s finest releases didn’t think it felt like a freshman affair, there are songs on the band’s newest effort, The Instinct, that expand upon everything listeners have come to know and love; they actually expose weaknesses in the first batch of songs that would never have existed without a superior point of comparison.
When you sit down and talk with the band, you learn that their vision doesn’t expand far beyond their haunting, affecting din. They don’t want to change the world — they just want to make good make-out music and pay their health insurance bills! That’s when you realize that although they dress better than you and get to do cool things like tour with the Deftones and shoot music videos, the members of Denali are the sort of normal, understandable people that more musicians should admit to being. Why would someone who never knew the band weep when they eventually passed away? All they did was command their instruments well and pen quality songs, in the same way that the guy down the road landscapes like a champ, while his wife is highly efficient with clerical tasks. You wanted songs to enjoy; you have them, and what you take from them is up to you. The only reason that doesn’t feel like enough is because you’re spoiled by the Fugazis and U2s of the world.
I met up with Denali on the Atlanta stop of their tour with Rainer Maria, and this is what they had to say about their lives, their art and their place in the stream of commerce.· · · · · · ·
Splendid: I’m going to go ahead and start from the beginning. Most people who follow you guys are pretty familiar with the lineup — they know that you, Maura and Keely, are brother and sister, and you’ve got Jonathan from Engine Down also, and you’ve got Cam who played in a bunch of bands — I think Lazycain was one of ‘em? (Maura confirms this.) But how did it come together? Whose idea was it to form, and how did you go about recruiting the necessary people?
Maura David: I had written a bunch of songs, umm, starting in high school and stuff, and I’d always wanted to be in a band with my bro Keely, so I played the songs for him at one of our Christmas gatherings, and he took to them, I think. I think basically the guys wanted to be in a band that would divert from their rock bands… doing girl stuff! (She laughs.) So, yeah, it just developed, it kind of happened at a crazy time when no one was really doing anything.
Keely Davis: It was just for fun, really. For us it was like an excuse for…
(Guitarist Cam Dinunzio enters the room)
Maura Davis: Hey, you want to get in on an interview?
Cam Dinunzio: Sure…
Maura Davis: This is Cam.
Splendid: Cam? Hi. We were just talking about how the band got started. How did they get you involved?
Cam Dinunzio: I heard the four-track stuff that Maura had done, and I was really excited about it. It just worked out that I was able to play.
Splendid: Cool. So you guys are from Richmond, and that’s definitely more of a hardcore town — you’ve got guys like City of Caterpillar, stuff like that up there. How was this Denali stuff received, being a bit softer and a bit moodier?
Maura Davis: Yeah, everybody basically went nuts when we first started out. I guess maybe it was different from all the hardcore stuff that’s always represented Richmond, but yeah, that’s died down a little bit, and no one really comes to our shows anymore. (Laughter.) But yeah, everyone there was really supportive of us, and yeah, we got a really good reception from everybody in Richmond. Now they’re just sick of us.
Keely Davis: We got an overload of press.
Cam Dinunzio: I think people were a bit suspicious… "Well, you’re not signed or anything." And I’m like, "Is that supposed to qualify us as a worthy band to go see?" It’s not bad, it’s not like we’re playing for no one. It’s just the people — we’ve reached our true fans now.
Splendid: Right. So do you still feel like you’re playing a hometown show when you play there, or do you find a wider range of people coming now?
Maura Davis: Hmm…
Keely Davis: Playing Richmond is not really the most fun for me. Playing hometown things, I really don’t enjoy any aspect, just because music is kind of a release for me, the escape thing, and when your whole family’s there and all your friends, it’s like, "yeah, you know me," so I usually don’t enjoy it as much. But it’s nice, and it’s kind of a humbling thing too…
Maura Davis: I like doing it, because everyone in Richmond always asks, "What are you doing?" and I’m like, "I’ve got a band," and they don’t understand, and then we play for them, they realize what we’re working on, you know?
Splendid: Okay. So how does it work out with you two being brother and sister? Does that ever create any tension, or do you feel like it’s better…
Maura Davis: I like it. We get along really well. There’s not much tension at all. Would you say that too?
Keely Davis: Of course, yeah.
Maura Davis: We have really similar taste in music.
Keely Davis: Our personal lives are similar. If you took a default person and you made a female and male version, that’s kind of what it is. She has her female things, I have my male things every once in a while, and she likes being female and I like being male.
Splendid: And that’s a good way to be.
Keely Davis: Exactly. (Laughter.)
Splendid: So who got who into the good music growing up? Was it kind of a trade off, or did one of you discover –
Maura Davis: He did it, predominantly. I liked Paula Abdul and stuff. I think the first thing he ever gave me was a Cinderella tape.
Maura Davis: That started it all.
Splendid: How far apart are you two in age?
Maura Davis: Four years.
Splendid: And he’s older than you?
Keely Davis: Yeah.
Splendid: So when was it that you broke away from the Cinderella and discovered Nirvana or Minor Threat or whatever it was for you?
Keely Davis: I still love those bands to this day, but, umm, elementary school was when I was a metalhead. Then the skateboarding thing sort of took over my life, and that involved all the punk music. That’s when I went into that mode.
Splendid: (To Maura) And did you get dragged along with him into that?
Maura Davis: Sort of. We had a half pipe — two half pipes — in our back yard, so there were skateboard dudes there all the time and they were playing music all the time so I heard all the music they were into. And Keely started making me mix tapes all the time because I guess he saw how much of a dork I was and wanted to help me out. But yeah, I still have all those tapes that you made me, Keely!
Splendid: That’s cool. If I made a mix tape for my sister it’d probably end up in the trash. We were in the car a while back and I was listening to Murray Street and on every song she kept saying it wasn’t music, so you’re fortunate to sort of click like that. Did you also sort of hang around the same types of people and everything?
Keely Davis: Yeah, we had like a "gang" in our town. We come from a pretty small town, so the people — well, the "good people" were a select few, so we just all hung out.
AUDIO: Where I Landed
Splendid: You talked about your family a little bit. How do your parents feel about this band now? Are they happy to see their two kids working together toward something?
Maura Davis: Yeah, they’re very supportive. They come to all our shows in Richmond — all of them.
Splendid: (laughing) Does that sometimes get annoying?
Maura Davis: It’s really nice, and we’re really fortunate to have them, but you know… it’s your parents!
Cam Dinunzio: You can only say "fuck" once. (Much laughter.)
Maura Davis: We really appreciate it though. They help us out moneywise with the band; they helped us build a big practice space and all this stuff.
Splendid: That’s really good. So do they like the music?
Maura Davis: Yeah, they do.
Keely Davis: They have a lot of opinions. They actually met in a band. My dad is still in a band to this day. He has a lot of advice to give me, ways I wouldn’t normally think; a lot of times I’m like, "Dad, come on!" but every once in a while it’s like, "well, you know, I can understand."
Splendid: Did you grow up around music? Were your parents always playing records for you and stuff?
Keely Davis: Yeah, we had a band room that was full of instruments… playtime all the time.
Splendid: Did you start out playing your respective instruments pretty early?
Maura Davis: It was middle school for me, that I learned guitar, and I played piano when I was little — you know, your parents always make you play piano.
Keely Davis: Yeah, you were first a piano whiz. I didn’t even know you were picking up a guitar. I was like, "what?!"
SplendidI must admit, I’m kind of a big Engine Down fan myself –
Maura Davis: Me too!
Splendid: I never can decide which band I like better, but all the success that Denali’s encountered has me kind of worried. So, Keely, is Engine Down still going to be an all-out, full-time project — or at least as full-time as it can be — or do you see that kind of, uhh, on the downswing right now?
Keely Davis: It’s actually on the upswing. We never expected (things to go so well) for both bands. So yeah, Engine Down’s working on a new record at home — a lot of promising stuff, too.
Splendid: When you’re writing music, do you ever think, "gee, I like this riff… Should it go for Denali, or is it an Engine Down riff?" Do you kind of have to choose which band your ideas go with?
Keely Davis: Well, luckily it doesn’t happen often because I’m playing a different instrument in both bands. There have been times when I’m like, "Whoa, this bass line, I might throw it to Jason (Engine Down’s bassist)." But there’s been a couple of songs where I’ve been playing guitar that I thought were better suited for Denali and it actually kind of happened that way.
Splendid: (Jokingly) Do you ever think you’ll get away with trying to do the same thing for both bands and hoping nobody notices?
Keely Davis: I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep. I have a real problem with copycats. Once something sounds similar, we’re like…
Cam Dinunzio: It makes it easier too because Maura brings most of the ideas to the table, so a lot of our songwriting is reactionary to that, whereas Keely is the main songwriter for Engine Down, so most of the energy is split.
Splendid: For the new album, The Instinct, did you find yourselves writing more as a band this time, or was it still mostly stuff that you came up with, Maura?
Maura Davis: It’s still — I just came up with like the skeleton of the song… and everyone else would react to it.
A friend of the band walks by and is greeted by a chorus of "Hi!"s.
Maura Davis: That’ll sound funny on tape… What were we talking about?
Cam Dinunzio: The collaboration.
Maura Davis: Yeah, it was pretty much the same…
Cam Dinunzio: Process.
Maura Davis Process! The same process as the last record.
Cam Dinunzio: There were a couple of things, like Keely wrote a song for this record, and I wrote a song for this record, but it still had to go through Maura’s filter first before it was kind of given the final blessing.
Splendid: This one came together kind of quickly. Were the ideas just kind of jumping out of your head left and right? Because it’s only been a year and a half since the last one came out.
Maura Davis: True. Yeah, I guess I had a lot of stuff to write about, like a lot of drama in my life, so it’s easy to write songs when you have something to write about. So yeah, it’s weird, I can’t remember the process. When I was writing, I don’t remember how I would start writing a song. I think it would just come to me… "I’m going to write this song for my lost love." Yeah… what was I talking about? I’m on a sugar high right now, sorry.
Keely Davis: There was a lot going through your life. It’s surprising, in a small period of time — it’s almost like someone set it up. It seems too good, like our press people were like, "Let’s see, we’re gonna make this happen tomorrow!"
Splendid: Any specifics on what type of situations these were?
Maura Davis: Let’s see, you got your break-up with your boyfriend, you know, finding new love, having hypocritical friends — all the regular stuff.
Splendid: Basic things you deal with.
Maura Davis: Yeah, basic things, but they all happened to happen in the same little period.
Splendid: And what better way to get it out than the music.
Maura Davis: Yeah.
AUDIO: You File
Splendid: Did you find yourself with a lot of spare time to write while half the band was away on tour (with Engine Down)?
Maura Davis: Yeah, that’d be like my time period, when Engine Down’s gone, where I’m like, "Okay, I have to write four songs in a month," so I could have them before they got back.
Splendid: One thing I’ve noticed — I’ve only been able to hear three songs from the new record, unfortunately; it’s in the mail, but our mailroom is very slow at the dorms, so I don’t get things on time. But from the three songs I was able to hear, it sounds to me like with both the really guitar-driven parts and the more ambient, spacy type moments, there seems to be a very thick sound that I didn’t always hear on the self-titled. Everything just seems to be 110 percent — a little more passionate this time around. Do you think that’s because of what had happened to you?
Maura Davis: I also felt a lot more confident with this record. The last record, this being the first band I’d ever done, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I think Denali felt more confident as a band with how we wanted to go about this record and stuff.
Cam Dinunzio: I think with the last record we hadn’t figured out what we sounded like. We hadn’t toured yet. With this record, it’s like, "Ahhh, this is what we sound like live," so we tried to do a lot more of that in the studio, which is why it’s a little more aggressive maybe, a little more upfront. We wanted it to sound like the shows.
Splendid: I noticed, especially on the first record, though not so much on the new material I’ve heard, that there seems to be a bit of tension between wanting to be this complete rock band — guitars, loud drums — and then you’ll bring in the keys, and, I guess, a little more of a Portishead-type sound. How do you balance out your needs to rock and your needs to experiment a little bit?
The question elicits a few "oooh"s from the band, and then a moment’s pause
Maura Davis: Keely?
Keely Davis: It’s natural, really…
Maura Davis: We never, like, say, "This song needs more of a beatbox thing," or whatever… I don’t know…
Cam Dinunzio: The songs kind of dictate themselves, honestly. As you’re feeling them out, you kind of go, "This should have more ju-ju here, or this song should have a boy’s choir on it."
Jonathan Fuller joins the fray, and now all members are present for the rest of the interview.
Jonathan Fuller: How’s it going?
Splendid: Pretty good. We’re just talking about the new record a little bit.
Cam Dinunzio: Maybe you can answer this, Jonathan — how do we temper the balance between rock and ambient, how do we figure out what the song needs to do?
Jonathan Fuller: I think on the last record it just depended on how hot it was in the practice area. Whether we were so beat that we couldn’t play hard, or whether we had any energy to actually try and write songs.
Keely Davis: We tried, both, too. There’s this one song in particular — what’s that song called?
Jonathan Fuller: "Normal Days"?
Keely Davis: "Normal Days", which there were –
Jonathan Fuller: Many incarnations that it had?
Keely Davis: It started out really melodic — what’d we call it? "Spanish Ballad" or something? And then all of a sudden –
Jonathan Fuller: The noise thing, and then it was like a drum and bass thing, and then, it’s maybe the fastest and maybe the hardest rocking song on the record, so maybe it’s the hardest and fastest because we were so frustrated.
Splendid: In the future, do you feel like the band’s going to go one way or the other, or will it always be this combination of not quite being "out there" and electronic and not quite being completely balls-to-the-wall rock, either?
Maura Davis: I have no clue about that. I know on this record I wanted to rock more, personally. I just wanted to do that. But as far as the future, I have no idea what I would feel like doing.
Splendid: And that’s a good way to be. Just let it happen. So I hear you guys shot a video for one of the songs. Which song was it?
Maura Davis: "Hold Your Breath".
Splendid Okay, that’s one of the ones I have heard. What kind of theme is this video going to have? Is it just a performance or is there actually some type of storyline?
Cam Dinunzio: There’s both. We play in the woods, jump in the water…
Maura Davis: We have these little things chasing us or something.
Jonathan Fuller: We’re not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. We’ve shot it, we see it when we go to New York in a couple of days. The exciting thing I think is that it sort of combines organic and electronic, or digital, because the company that’s doing it is a digital animation company or whatever, and they specialize in sort of like live action with digital elements. That I think works well with what we’re doing; other than that…
Splendid: So these things chasing you, are they like little computer animated things?
Cam Dinunzio: Yeah, they’re computer generated. What is it, CG?
The band immediately goes into a state of mock excitement upon hearing the letters CG.
Splendid: What do these things look like?
Jonathan Fuller: We don’t know. It was, totally artificial — it’s like acting with Roger Rabbit.
Maura Davis: We used trash bags for where it was gonna be, so we reacted to the trash bag.
Splendid: So why are they chasing you?
Cam Dinunzio: We pissed them off…
Keely Davis: The whole thing is kind of like a growth thing. It’s supposed to be an island, and it’s like a disease-spreading organism, I don’t know…
Splendid: Was it the director that came up with a lot of this?
Keely Davis: Yeah, they really couldn’t give us much to work on, they were just like, "You’ll have to trust us." And as a band, we have our hands in every aspect, and this is like, "I have seen work you’ve done, and it looks good, so if it sucks, then I’m gonna kill you later." We always have this kind of thing, too, where we prefer to work with people we like, and they made us feel comfortable, they had good taste. Just looking at them, they wore good stuff. They didn’t scare us off right away, so we went along with it.
Splendid: Any chance of this going to MTV2 or any of the channels?
Maura Davis: We hope.
Splendid: Well good luck. You’ve got this album, and you’ve got this video, and in more news where the planets seem to be aligning for Denali, Hoobastank dropped off the Deftones tour and Chino asked you guys — hehand-picked you guys (to take their spot). How did that feel?
Maura Davis: Crazy.
Cam Dinunzio: A little terrifying at first.
Keely Davis: It was really weird, because I had heard their songs mainly through the popular music or whatever, and I was like, "This isn’t Limp Bizkit," and the guy has a good voice, and right before tour, two weeks before tour, I bought the new record, just because I wanted to see, and now we found out about (touring with them) and I’m like, "Okay, I kind of know who this is." We had our skepticism about size and our fanbase or whatever, but everyone decided that it would be fun and a nice change. But every time other people come from the outside world to talk to us about it they have this look on their face like, "Do you know what you’re — oh my God!"
Splendid: So did you know any of the Deftones guys beforehand, or was this –
Maura Davis: Totally out of the blue.
Splendid: Cool. That has to feel kind of special. One thing that will be in your favor is that they tend to have more of an intelligent fanbase than, say, Limp Bizkit or Disturbed or whatever. But at the same time, you’re also going to have plenty of people that, yeah, they heard that "Minerva" song on the radio, and they want to go out to the rock show, because it’s the rock show, and that’s what you do — you go there and bust people’s heads…
Jonathan Fuller: As long as they don’t bust us in the head. I’m always down with watching people beat each other up out there, but I’ll try not to be in the middle of it.
Keely Davis: (Pointing at a drawing on one of the ceiling tiles) Check out the unicorn on the ceiling, Maura.
Maura Davis: Where?
Keely Davis: (Reading the drawing’s caption) "Nobody knows I’m a unicorn."
Maura Davis: Awww!
Keely Davis: And it’s got your haircut! (Much laughter) I’m gonna make you a shirt: "Nobody knows I’m a unicorn".
Splendid: I would think people would know that it’s a unicorn… (The drawing was clearly and unambiguously a unicorn.)
Keely Davis: Yeah, it’s rather apparent.
Jonathan Fuller: It’s kind of easy to tell.
Maura Davis: Could you make me a shirt that says that?
Keely Davis: Sure thing.
Splendid: So, with this tour, this new album, all these things coming together, do you guys have a feeling that major rockstardom is on the horizon, or are you still just a little band from Richmond?
Maura Davis: I’m not gonna get my hopes up, even though I’d like to. Whenever I get my hopes up for something it doesn’t happen.
Cam Dinunzio: You just have to take something like that in stride. If you lie to yourself and get too worked up about it, you’re gonna get let down, so you just kind of take it for what it is and say, "Okay, it’s a bigger stage, more people… that’s cool…"
Keely Davis: I’ll just be excited to pay my health insurance.
Splendid: That’s always a good thing. Is it to the point where your bands are making you enough money to live off of?
Keely Davis: So far — well, for me and Jonathan, we’re doing double duty.
Maura Davis: Not really.
Keely Davis: Richmond’s got a — you can live at really low cost. I’m probably on the lowest scale possible, but, umm, yeah, it kind of works out. The good thing about Richmond is that you can do odd jobs. You can work for friends at home, production companies, or you can help build stages with people… the whole town, the whole crew of a workplace will be musicians sometimes.
Cam Dinunzio: We’re probably the oldest population, of like, a bunch of 30 year olds with summer jobs.
AUDIO: Hold Your Breath
Splendid: So are there a lot of people there who have made it to age 50 still kind of bumming around, working in the record store?
Cam Dinunzio: You don’t want to know about them.
Splendid: Okay, stay away from the old townies… So are the major labels knocking down your door yet?
Cam Dinunzio: They haven’t heard our new record yet.
Maura Davis: Yeah, but once they hear the new record…
Splendid: Is that a route you’re willing to take?
Maura Davis: Uhhh… if it happens.
Splendid: All of you guys have played in bands before. I guess for Maura this was the first thing, but the rest of you are veterans. What do you think made this Denali project, out of all the things you’ve gone into, get more exposure? Especially in terms of touring and the label you’re on?
Keely Davis: I think the very thing of having experience and knowing what to do and what not to do and starting from point blank of doing it — when a band grows, gets good, and sometimes people have a hard time of forgetting that first show that was just the worst thing of their lifetime, so we kind of started. It wasn’t really our goal to be this touring band all the time. Maura’s still in school and all. From day one, we knew how to do it, so I guess it came off like we knew what we were doing. So people latched on, and it’s good music, and good timing. It’s always timing. A lot of times it’s pure luck, definitely, but I think there’s something good there.
Splendid: Do you think any of Denali’s success is due to the novelty — and I hate to call it a novelty, but that’s how people look at it — of having the female lead singer? Do you think that made the band a little different?
Maura Davis: (Laughing) I’m not answering that question…
Keely Davis: There’s a lot of things that line up to make a good band. You know… entertainment. Everyone likes to look at people, everybody likes to see diversity, people like sexuality, people like females. There’s a lot of aspects that make for an easier time than others. Yeah, there’s a lot of crap — female vocalists who are huge, and I just can’t understand how they’ll beat out someone. Who knows where Jeff Buckley would have gone — he got bigger after he died, but I bet if he was still alive, things probably wouldn’t have gotten as big for him, comparing him to like a…
Splendid: Just because he’s a guy.
Keely Davis: Right, you know.
Splendid: Yeah, and I think you guys, just from everything I know about the band, the way you handle it is good. I don’t see you exploiting Maura and having scantily clad pictures of her everywhere.
Maura Davis: Not yet!
Splendid: Yeah, that’s after the Deftones tour. (Laughing)
Cam Dinunzio: You’re going to be on their next cover, like that one with the bathing suit girl.
Keely Davis: Of Maxim?
Jonathan Fuller: No, like the Deftones cover with the girl in the bathing suit on it.
Splendid: Is there any pressure on you to do something like that?
Cam Dinunzio: Yes. From Jade Tree, from Jessica Hopper.
Maura Davis: I think they want us to be a metal band or something.
Cam Dinunzio: They’re really, really, really image conscious. We don’t have to ask for a good photographer, we don’t have to ask for a make-up artist. We don’t have one yet, but they’re like, "Next time you guys do a shoot, we’re going to have people to iron your jeans. We don’t want you looking scruffy," you know. I think that for Jade Tree they see us as this kind of fashion flagship that they can sail for whatever reason. I guess we’re susceptible to it and we kind of fit into that mold. I mean, we’ve just kind of tried to look like we’re in the same band and we just happen to have similar fashion tastes.
Splendid: I would see it as more of a non-image with you guys, in that this is a band — they’re an indie rock band, they have a female singer, and yet, you’re certainly not The Strokes or anything in terms of how you dress and you’re certainly not putting Maura out as some kind of sex figure or anything. Do you almost feel like you could go that way, with your image being, "we’re very, very normal"?
Keely Davis: I had a guy yell at me about how Kurt Cobain was the ultimate in having no style. I can’t remember — I was wearing white pants and a black shirt, and he goes, "you guys and your fashion!" And I’m like, okay, two tone. And he just went on about Kurt Cobain and how he wasn’t in style and didn’t care, and I’m like, "You know, that’s great", but I think he knew that he didn’t care. Everything’s kind of a style.
Splendid: You get pigeonholed in that a lot.
Keely Davis: I just saw the Deftones video the other day and he had a backwards baseball cap in the video, and you know, people dig that.
Splendid: Think you guys will be whipping out the backwards baseball caps anytime soon?
Keely Davis: Oh yeah, Maura looks great in them.
Cam Dinunzio: I think that I always wanted there to be something about the band that separates us from the crowd we’re playing in front of. It doesn’t have to be leather jeans and studded belts, but I want there to be something that says, okay, we didn’t just walk up out of the crowd and start playing on stage. But I don’t want us to be so far removed that people feel alienated, and I think that whatever fashion sense we have, or don’t have, seems to work, kind of keeps people feeling connected to the band.
Splendid: When this is all over — after you guys have conquered the world, and the Deftones have opened for you, and you’ve put out ten albums, all that kind of thing — what do you want people to remember about Denali? What do you want people to have as the final thought on the band?
Jonathan Fuller: Keely’s shoes.
Splendid: Those are some nice shoes.
Maura Davis: Good makeout music.
Keely Davis: Which just happened on this tour. People were making out.
Cam Dinunzio: Yeah, I want to be the new Jane’s Addiction for the high school kids, like the violent makeout music. (Much laughter) That was like the daring thing to make out to when I was in school…
Splendid: So good makeout music, cool shoes, what more could you ask for? By the way, where did those shoes come from?
Keely Davis: Chicago.
Splendid: Thrift store?
Keely Davis: Umm, what’s it called? Ultra Savage Barn?
Cam Dinunzio: Strange Cargo?
Keely Davis: Yeah. They were twenty bucks. I was into it.
Splendid: Looks like the TV when the cable goes out.
Keely Davis: That would be awesome, having skulls on your TV.
Splendid: Oh, okay, those are skulls.
Jonathan Fuller: It’s magic eye, you’ve got to cross your eyes to check them out.
A little more pointless banter about the shoes follows.
Splendid: So aside from the music, what type of values or message or overall emotion do you want people to extract from the band and remember above and beyond just you guys sounding good, being good to make out to, or whatever?
Keely Davis: (After a long pause) That’s your answer, Maura.
Maura Davis: Ummmmm… I don’t think we’re trying to get across a message or anything like that. We just want people to be affected by it and, ummm, I guess with this record, immediately affected by it. That was our goal with this record. When you hear a song, we want you to be like, "Aw! Yes!"
Splendid: Before we wrap things up, any bands, people, anything you guys would like to shamelessly plug for a moment?
Jonathan Fuller: The new Death Cab For Cutie record is amazing.
Cam Dinunzio: There’s a band from Richmond that will never be heard just because, even from the name — the band’s called The Broken Hips, and the members are convinced that it’s going to self-destruct before it ever does anything.
Splendid: Are they the typical Richmond kind of –
Cam Dinunzio: No, they’re closer to like Calexico or Dirty Three, that kind of organic, airy, kind of back porch stuff.
Splendid: And, last but not least — have any of you guys actually been to the real Denali?
Maura Davis: No.
Jonathan Fuller: We’re shooting our next video there.