Maserati takes new risks

There’s got to be some way to tie together all of the “driving” themes surrounding Athens band Maserati. The famous car company name, the “roadtrip speeding down the road with no destination necessary” style of their sound and when they got together, they just wanted to load up and drive.

“When we started we just kinda wanted to start writing music and get on the road,” said guitarist Coley Dennis. “We were 10 years younger and pretty hungry to just go for it. We just got in the van and started touring our asses off.”

That wasn’t just a threat. Three years into the band’s existence, it had already begun touring extensively and managed to squeeze in recording and releasing two full-length albums and a split with The Mercury Program.

“At that point we were probably touring at least four months out of the year probably, maybe more,” Dennis said. “In between there we started tryin’ to write more records and stuff.”

Then in 2004 came some lineup changes, a few side projects and a little graduate school for good measure. Some time off proved beneficial. The band came back together in 2005 when guitarist Matt Cherry finished graduate school and Jerry Fuchs joined to replace the original drummer. Since then the band produced another split record with Zombi and three more full-length originals.

But the last five years were stuck with undoubtedly the most devastating and unpredictable event of the band’s long career. In November 2009, Fuchs, whose drumming had been hailed as some of the best on the indie circuit at the time, died after falling down an elevator shaft in Brooklyn.

“It was crushing … no other way about it,” Dennis said. “It was life-changing for all of us to say the least.”

The sudden and horrific loss of Fuchs had impact far beyond the music, and the band was put on hold while things settled down.

“He was my best friend, it’s not like just some guy that plays drums that you hang out with — that guy was everything,” Dennis said. “It took several months for us to decide what the plan should be and to even really talk to each other about it.”

The band reconvened early this year and decided they felt ready to finish the record they had started with their late drummer.

“Without question it’s the most important thing we’ve ever had to do, finish that record,” Dennis said. “There’s a lot of blood and guts in that thing.”

The album as a whole is full of Maserati’s drive. The band plows through complex, echo-heavy layered guitar riffs, building and destroying sonic vistas, always powered by the engine of danceable, dance-punk drums. Lack of vocals allows the songs to meander to their logical conclusions with no need stop for breath.

“That record’s not a safe record for us,” Dennis said. “We were taking chances and trying to push it and make something … a different record than we’ve made before, something exciting and new for us.”

In completing the album, Maserati’s members honored Fuchs and gained some closure.

“He was definitely the most excited about this material than anything that I’d ever seen from him, and we had to finish the thing for our own sanity, too,” Dennis said.

As for the future of the band, Dennis says the questions are still yet to be answered.

“We’re kind of leaving it open right now ’cause it’s still emotional for us and I don’t think we really know. We’re kind of taking steps,” Dennis said.

Completing the record was one step — touring with it another. For right now, being back on the road is enough.

“It’s been great, people have been stoked about [the new music], so it’s been completely positive,” Dennis said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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