Denver Dalley. There’s a certain ring to the name. It has a superhero’s alliteration, reminding one of a Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, or Clark Kent. Of course, Dalley, 33, is a musician, not the planet’s last ray of hope. But his songwriting ability may have been bestowed upon him as serendipitously as a bite from a radioactive spider, exposure to a gamma bomb, or relocation to a different solar system. For Dalley, it was a case of cat scratch fever.
The progenitor of the oft-political, post-punk revivalist band, Desaparecidos, which suspiciously sounds itself like a superhero faction (let’s not forget who fronts it), recently disclosed this alleged origin story from San Francisco International Airport. Or maybe Dalley was discussing nothing more than the brief stint he had in modeling almost 15 years ago.
“I remember one shoot I had with a couple of other guys,” Dalley confesses, describing an artsy New York session where each model was to hold a taxidermied animal. “They were legit Abercrombie models,” Dalley demurs. “I was just some dude from Omaha.”
As the story goes, Dalley says he somehow ended up with a live cat, as opposed to a stuffed animal, and was clawed every time the camera flashed. His modeling career ended shortly thereafter.
“I never really wanted to be a model,” he explains. “I just wanted to play music, so I did that. I went back to Omaha and started Desaparecidos.”
Okay, perhaps a cat scratch is too much of a reach. Unless, that is, the feline had been discovered bathing in the waters of the Pripyat River just outside of Chernobyl. Besides, the tunes of Statistics and Intramural, two of Dalley’s other projects, obviously come from a disciplined songwriter who must’ve developed a strong work ethic at an early age.
Forget the cat. Perhaps he was engineered in a lab.
Dalley says he worked for his father, a former professor of anatomy at Creighton University, filing slides and moving lab equipment to fund guitars, pedals, and amps.
“They were working on new x-ray technology,” the test subject mentions of one particularly odd job. “So I basically had to lay on this table while this machine scanned my entire body.”
A simpler explanation as to why Dalley’s been a working musician for well over a decade might be rooted in his early obsession with the mop-topped movies, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!
Or it could have been his early taste in music:
“The first two cassettes I bought with my own money were Paula Abdul and R.E.M.’s Green,” he says, laughing. “I’m still like that. I still do enjoy that sort of thing, but I went more in the direction of R.E.M.”
Whatever the case may be, Dalley is here to stay. And Desaparecidos, who disappeared in 2002, will reemerge next year with their second full-length album.
“People who enjoyed the first album won’t be disappointed,” Dalley says. “If anything, it’s louder and a little tougher, but it’s still very much our style.”