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Questions by Eric Dick / Transcribed by Mel House

As you may or may not know by now, Denali has unfortunately called it quits. That's a tragedy, if for no other reason than that this was a band who could tour with Rainer Maria and the Deftones and hold their own with both. We sat down with Denali on the Houston date of what was to be their final tour -- if you never got the chance to see or hear them, here's what you missed out on...and why you should care.

SCR: Say your name and what you do.
Maura: I'm Maura, and I play guitar, and keyboards and sing.
Cam: I'm Cam, and I play guitar.

I noticed there are some changes in the lineup of your band, can you tell us what's up with that?
M: Well, we had two members that were also in a band called Engine Down, and they chose to do that full time, and it worked out for the best because both bands could tour more...and our new members [Stephen Howard and Ryan Rapsys] are from Chicago, and they're awesome, so it worked out.

What bands do you listen to and what type of music do you like?
M: I listen to a lot of Radiohead and Bjork, and a lot of hip-hop...I think everyone in Denali listens to a lot of different things, but I don't know what exactly influences us the most.
C: It's hard to say -- we kind of just react to the songs that we've written instead of, you know, kind of hoping to do this kind of song, or that kind of song. What Maura brings in starting off the songs is usually devoid of any immediate idenity, so we just kind of go from there without us feeling that we need to brush off any particular "sound." We just kind of go with it, and it ends up sounding like a Denali song.

Whenever I heard you guys before, I initally thought of Portishead -- that's the closest music I've heard that sounds like what you guys sound like.
M: I definitely love Portishead a lot, but there's possibly some influence there...I don't deliberately try to copy anything. I don't really think we sound like Portishead, really, but if people want to say that, that's awesome, because I love Portishead. [joking voice] Whatever you want to say, I don't care.

-- Denali pic #1


Denali -- http://www.denalimusic.com/

Jade Tree Records -- http://www.jadetree.com/

Engine Down -- http://www.enginedown.com/

Bella Lea -- http://www.bellalea.com/

Sound Of Music Studios -- http://www.soundofmusic.org/

C: [Laughs] It's a great band to be compared to; it's not a bad thing at all. It's the only obvious comparison -- it's not the only thing that's dark and female-fronted, but it's probably the closest thing to us, so I guess that's where...you know, critics need something as a jumping-off point, and that seems to be the most popular one.

Before when I saw you, your brother was doing these really neat things; he was playing bass and he was also doing samples...I'm not actually familiar with your new album since I haven't heard it, but are you still doing those types of things or going in a different direction?
M: Well, we wrote the record with my brother [and] Jonathan, so we still use live samples. The new guys just had to learn to use all that stuff [laughs]. So, yeah, we still do it.

"Time Away" is actually one of my favorite songs that you've written, but you've always done it differently when I've seen you live. Is there any reason for that?
M: [to Cam] How do we play it live? We haven't played it in forever...
C: The way we play it live is actually the way that it was originally written...
M: Oh yeah, where it comes all in...
C: Yeah, when we got to the studio, Mark Linkous [Ed. Note: formerly of Sparklehorse, in case you were wondering], the guy who was producing that song in particular, had other ideas, and was like "why don't you try this or that" and "how about we don't get all loud in the end" and so that's how it ended up on the record. When we played it live, we just continued to play it the way that we always had. There's just a great little variation there...but I don't think we're playing it tonight. [pauses, thinks] We're not playing it tonight.
M: We should start playing that song again. I like that song.
C: Yeah, we will. We keep getting asked to do like these, not only here in the States, but actually our booking agent in Japan asked us if we would do an acoustic set. We've just had bad luck in the past -- the songs just kind of fall apart without the band -- but that song might work. We have another song on the new record that doesn't have any bass or drums. We could probably put together 3 or 4 songs, but "Time Away" would be a great song to do. When we get home from this tour we're gonna add another 3 or 4 songs to the set.

Denali pic #2 As far as touring, where have you gone, what have you seen, and is there a crazy incident...
[At this point Maura points out a huge Food-Of-The-Gods size cricket on the wall of the dressing room. We revel for a second.]

So you guys are camping out?
M: Yeah, we have a tent.

That's smart.
M: We've basically gone all over the U.S. and seen a lot of different terrain...lots of different Wal-Marts.
C: Yeah, it's been cool. We keep scheduling European tours and then cancelling them, so I'm sure everybody overseas hates us by now, but we keep getting conflicts, or other tours come up and we have to take them. We've been around the U.S. four or five times now, in every season, so we've seen everything.
M: We've seen it all.

Is there a particular place that you like the most?
M: Yeah, Houston!
[Cam laughs]

Let me ask that question again. Is there a particular place that you like the most, not including Houston?
M: I think on this tour, we went to the place that I like the most so far, which was the Redwoods in Northern California. It was amazing. It was beautiful.
C: As far as venues, it was different every tour. As momentum builds, different cities kind of swell and ebb. I think the high point for me this time was San Francisco at the Noise Pop festival that we just played. That place was awesome, we played this place called Bottom Of The Hill and the energy from the crowd was great and the sound was great and it was just a good vibe. It varies by tour. San Francisco's probably my favorite this time.

Out of the bands that you have played with, which ones have you enjoyed the most?
M: I'd have to say Poison The Well.
[Cam and Maura laugh -- she's dating a guy from that band and they're also on the tour with Denali.]
C: You do have to say that, don't you? They're awesome, really consistent every night, and they're riveting to watch. Also, Sparklehorse was great to play with, and Clinic was great to play with -- they are really conceptual bands, and their music comes across really great live.
M: Did I mention that my favorite band to play with is Poison The Well?
[More laughter]

Well, are you getting paid well, and are you getting free drinks?
C: Well, we got paid well to plug Poison The Well, actually.
M: Yeah, one of the members is standing right there, behind you.

Imagine that.

Where They Are Now:
Maura has started a new band with Stephen Howard and Ryan Rapsys called Bella Lea (www.bellalea.com), Cam is doing the booking for David Lowery's Sound Of Music studios (www.soundof music.org), and original members Keeley Davis and Jonathan Fuller are still in Engine Down. END


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