Bright Eyes, I don't break a sweat. I have to bite my lip
and try not to laugh because it's serious stuff.
With Desaparecidos, we're lucky if all our instruments make
it off stage intact. We're constantly tackling each other
on stage. "
the pessimistic lyrics, the constant stream of hooky guitar riffs,
explosive drumming and Oberst's controlled screeching (see Cursive's
Tim Kasher at his heaviest), make this anything but gloomy. McElroy's
keyboards and Dalley's guitar touches add the necessary texture
The CD was recorded in
a week at Presto! Recording Studio in Lincoln by Mike Mogis, who
has worked on a number of Saddle Creek projects and performs in
Bright Eyes. Unlike some of his more-pristine recordings, Read Music/Speak
Spanish has an intentionally raw, almost unproduced sound. "We
rushed a lot of the mixing," Dalley said. "This has a
live rock feel. You'll hear the white noise of a distorted guitar
as well as subtle little things that we left in to capture the energy."
Musically, longtime Saddle
Creek fans will recognize touches of Park Ave. melodies, Cursive
angularity, and Commander Venus control-on-the-verge-of-chaos --
just about anything but Bright Eyes' tenderness.
Baum says the sound was
influenced by the Omaha bands they grew up listening to in the mid-'90s.
"Mousetrap, Frontier Trust, Mercy Rule, Clayface, Culture Fire,
Fisher, Slowdown Virginia -- they were all friends of ours, and
growing up watching them fed into what we're doing."
That influence is apparent
on stage as well. Don't look for the tears you can spot in the audience
at a Bright Eyes' show. A Desaparecidos show is a controlled wall
of sound, with as much distortion as melody, and enough chaotic
energy to saturate the crowd.
"With Bright Eyes
I don't break a sweat. I have to bite my lip and try not to laugh
because it's serious stuff," said Baum, who plays in both bands.
"It's inappropriate to make a joke after a song about someone's
internal strife. With Desaparecidos, we're lucky if all our instruments
make it off stage intact. We're constantly tackling each other on
Baum, a veteran of a
number of bands including Truck Johnson and Body by Heroin, said
he's "always been the chimpanzee with the drumsticks who broke
his fingers on stage. With Bright Eyes, I had to tone it down and
was awful when I first started. I've learned a lot about playing
loud by playing quiet and I've incorporated a lot of what I was
doing with Bright Eyes into Desaparecidos."
With only a three-song
single in hand, the band went out on a 9-day tour last year with
Cursive, Sorry About Dresden, and The White Octave that included
a 600+ sold-out show in Boston. "We were a bunch of laughing,
drunken idiots in every city," Baum said. "We had a complete
blast and came home and said, 'We're all still together.'"
He said that despite
the obvious differences from Bright Eyes, a few people still called
out for Bright Eyes songs. "I can't speak for Conor, but I
think it's rude," Baum said. "I would think any idiot
could tell that this is not Bright Eyes. It really hasn't been a
"I don't think they
were being serious," Dalley said. "I think it was more
in good fun. You have to realize that Bright Eyes is a more established
band. You're going to get some of that."
With a five-week, 28-date
tour that starts in Nashville Jan. 23 and runs through North Carolina,
Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, the band will have
a chance to further establish itself.
"We get crazier
and crazier on stage," Dalley said. "Some of it is knowing
the songs better. We don't have to think about what we're playing
as much and rely more on instinct. We feed off each other and the
crowds. That's ultimately why we are a band and not a fizzled-out
side project -- because we're having so much fun."
Published in The Omaha Weekly Jan. 16, 2002. Copyright © 2002 Tim
McMahan. All rights reserved. Photographs copyright © 2002 by Bill
Sitzmann, used by permission.