Omaha rock-band Desaparecidos (Spanish for “disappeared ones”) recently reappeared for a U.S. tour that brought fans back to their rebellious high school years. The band, comprised of Landon Hedges, Matt Baum, Denver Dalley, Ian McElroy and music legend Conor Oberst, felt that it was time to put their 10-year hiatus on the backburner to speak out against issues like the ever-industrializing United States, the Alien Act and the controversial anti-immigrant Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Does the concept sound familiar? If you listened to 2002’s Read Music/Speak Spanish, released on Saddle Creek Records, it should not surprise you. Desaparecidos have always spoken out about issues occurring in America, and they felt that this year would be a great time to release more music.
In 2012, Desaparecidos released two singles, “MariKKKopa” and “Backsell,” followed by 2013’s “Anonymous” and “The Left is Right”; all of them included catchy guitar riffs and lyrics about current political issues. The messages are spread loud and clear through Oberst’s screaming, preachy voice, all while fans struggle to keep their feet from leaving the ground during live performances.
I had a chance to sit down with the lead guitarist of Desaparecidos and bass player for Har Mar Superstar, Denver Dalley, after Desaparecidos played an electrifying set at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. “The timing was finally right. We felt like we were obligated to do things before and it didn’t feel right to us, and years later, it feels right,” Dalley said regarding their decision to return to the music scene. “We all absolutely love playing together and look forward to every band practice and performance. We’ve always been kind of defiant and wanted to only do things on our own terms, and 10 years later, we are doing exactly that.”
Desaparecidos get their “post-hardcore, indie rock” sound from Dalley’s songwriting, and after Oberst adds the politically-charged lyrics, a song is formed. “I usually come in with the song ideas and we all kind of edit it together and make it ours. Sometimes Landon or Conor will bring something in, but the majority of the time, it’s me. We will piece it together and change it up a bit, and then Conor does all of the lyrics.”
After filling up on “backrubs” (a red wine and Coca-Cola mix), the band’s drink of choice, Desaparecidos took the ‘Dise stage on a snowy night that did nothing to dampen the spirits of the sold-out crowd in front of them. California-rockers Joyce Manor kicked off the night by sprinting through their set, paving the way for Desaparecidos’s epic performance. The band mixed in their new songs with classics such as “Man and Wife, The Former (Financial Planning),” “Greater Omaha,” “Mall of America,” “Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)” and “$$$$.” When asked what Dalley’s favorite song to play live was, he emphatically replied, “‘Mañana’ might be my favorite. It’s tricky for me to play the tapping part live when we are rockin’, but I love the intensity and power of that one. The crowd always seems to as well.” Dalley was correct; my feet did not once touch the ground during “Mañana.”
Unfortunately, the band does not have plans to release new music or tour again anytime soon, but with the ever-changing status of the country, more new music could come sooner rather than later. Dalley said, “Nothing is planned as of now for another full-length or tour, but we are all looking forward to playing together again—even if it’s just in the band room—and it seems like those things will just happen if we are playing together.”
– Gregory Crotty