Dalley Looks Past Nebraska With Statistics

As the guitarist in Desaparecidos, 22 year-old indie rocker Denver Dalley has already scored a reputable gig. The group's 2002 debut, "Read Music/Speak Spanish," won over critics and liberal arts majo

As the guitarist in Desaparecidos, 22 year-old indie rocker Denver Dalley has already scored a reputable gig.

The group's 2002 debut, "Read Music/Speak Spanish," won over critics and liberal arts majors alike with its scrappy brand of political rock. Being associated with Saddle Creek Records -- the hip Nebraska label that's also home to Bright Eyes, Cursive and the Faint -- ensured that Desaparecidos already had a built-in fan base.

There was only one problem: To Desaparecidos frontman Conor Oberst, the band is a side-project to his full-time job fronting Bright Eyes.

"It's very much an on/off kind of thing," Dalley says of Desaparecidos. "As soon as ['Read Music/Speak Spanish'] came out, I realized how much downtime I was going to have while Conor was doing Bright Eyes. I decided I wanted to be working more in a band environment. I love touring and recording and all that."

If Dalley has his way, Desaparecidos will be relegated to hobby status for him as well. Earlier this month, Jade Tree released the self-titled debut EP from the Dalley-led Statistics, a five-song effort that finds power-pop guitars interacting with cut-and-paste rhythms and digitized landscapes.

Songs such as "Another Day" and "Hours Seemed Like Days" sound like they were orchestrated by a symphony of rock'n'roll laptops, with sweeping synthesizers, looped drums, manipulated vocals and a rush of colorful electronic atmospherics. While the more rock-driven tunes recall the keyboard-enhanced work of the Pulsars and Wilco, the EP is tempered with instrumental cuts such as "A Memory" and "A Flashback," which slow things down with a mix of shoegazer static and computerized noodling.

"I didn't really have anything in mind," Dalley says. "I'm definitely way into bands like the Notwist, Grandaddy and the Pixies. If anything, I was going for a blend of all of the above. In music, ultimately, you do what feels right to you, but you try to avoid direct comparisons."

Dalley also wanted to avoid immediate association with Oberst and the rest of the Saddle Creek crowd. While he uses the Saddle Creek studios in Omaha, Neb., and employs the label's production crew, Dalley thought it best to shop the project elsewhere, wanting to construct a musical career independent of Desaparecidos.

"I've become very conscious of things that might easily be compared to Conor," Dalley says. "With that connection, I get asked about working with Conor and people always want to know what he's like. I would never limit myself, but if I came up with a melody that I thought sounded like something Conor might write, I would avoid it.

"I never asked Saddle Creek if they'd be willing to put this out," Dalley continues. "I wanted people to look at this as something new and on a different label. I didn't want people to say, 'Oh, it's the guy from the Desaparecidos.'"

Armed with just a demo, Dalley sent his songs to Delaware-based indie Jade Tree, a label whose roster includes Jets To Brazil, Owls and Milemarker. Jade Tree ended up being the first and only label Dalley contacted, and plans to release the EP were immediately set in motion. "I was super lucky," Dalley says. "Jade Tree and Saddle Creek are my two all-time favorite labels."

The EP was recorded entirely by Dalley, but he's assembled a band for a tour and a full-length, which is due later this year or in early 2004. Dalley enlisted ex-Trinket member Darry Delamar as his drummer, and former Self bassist Timothy Nobles. The full-length is being produced by Saddle Creek regular A.J. Mogis.

"I think the full-length will be comparable to the EP in that there's going to be a couple instrumental tracks, but there's going to be more songs with lyrics," Dalley says. "I have one new song about the whole 'grass is greener' thing, like how when you're on tour you wish you were at home with a girlfriend, and when you're at home you wish you were touring. There's also a song about telemarketers. It's all over the place."

Statistics will be previewing some of the new tunes on the road tour this summer, beginning July 17 with Stafyler 59 and Paperback, the latest project from Pedro The Lion's David Bazan. On July 25, Statistics will hook-up with fellow Saddle Creek outfit Rilo Kiley.

As for Desaparecidos, Dalley says the group plans to finish its second album by the end of the summer, but if the Statistics take off, that'll likely be wishful thinking. "We're definitely making plans for a follow-up," Dalley says. "The thing is, though, with me doing this, and Conor constantly touring with Bright Eyes, it's hard to say when our schedules will align."