Saturday's temperatures may not be too hot, but the bands playing Maha Music Festival are some of the hottest tickets in town.
Punk rockers and hometown boys Desaparecidos headline the all-day show with alt rock band Garbage not far behind.
In its fourth year, Maha Music Festival returns to Stinson Park at Aksarben Village. More than a dozen groups make up a lineup that includes rock, folk, dance and more — the kind of variety that makes for an indie-style music festival.
This year, the festival has a new, non-musical addition: a community village. The group of tents and tables will be full of community groups and organizations such as the Joslyn Art Museum, Goodwill, Nebraska Appleseed and others.
But the main reason you'll be there is probably the bands. Read on for interviews with many of the groups, including headliners Desaparecidos and Garbage.
Click here to view photos of the event.
Ten years ago, Desaparecidos disbanded. Frontman Conor Oberst went on and did some Bright Eyes albums and tours. Other members focused on projects including Statistics and Little Brazil.
Then two years ago, band members got a call from Oberst: “Would you be interested in getting the band back together?”
Everyone was immediately onboard. After the punk band played a one-off show in downtown Benson, the lingering question that fans had was, “Will they play more?”
Band members wondered the same, guitarist Denver Dalley told us before leaving for the band's upcoming tour.
“We were like, ‘We really need to do this.' We had a lot of fun goofing off in the band room and playing together. That further motivated us to make sure that it happened,” he said.
Oberst's Bright Eyes duties, both touring and recording, took hold for a while, but everyone's schedules came together to allow the band to headline Maha Music Festival, the second night of its seven-date tour.
“We're all excited on our end that we feel like we haven't lost it,” Dalley said. “It doesn't sound like some adult contemporary jam.”
Desaparecidos has also been producing new music. Two songs, “MariKKKopa” and “Backsell” are available from the band's website, and they also played another, “Left is Right,” at a surprise show in Omaha.
“MariKKKopa” is about Arizona's notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio and “Backsell” is an indictment of major record labels. Both have politically themed lyrics, crunching guitar and audio samples of conversations similar to the band's only album, “Read Music/Speak Spanish,” but have a broader focus.
“Before, we were talking about it on a local scale. I think it's still relevant now. There was plenty to talk about back then and there's plenty to talk about now,” Dalley said. “It just kinda came about. There were a couple songs ideas or themes that we had for a while. We wrote ‘MariKKKopa' and it came together. Conor's so close to that recording studio (ARC Studio) that we could just go.”
That begs the question: Will the band make more new music?
“People are curious about what's gonna happen next and if there's gonna be more tours or an album, but we're in the same boat,” Dalley said. “We're kinda curious too.”
Duke Erikson has toured the world and his band has sold millions of albums. Garbage, Erikson's alternative rock band, had super-successful singles with “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.”
Before all of that, Erikson was in Nebraska where he was born and raised.
Erikson grew up in Lyons, Neb., and attended Wayne State College before he moved to Madison, Wis., and formed Garbage with Shirley Manson, Butch Vig and Steve Marker.
Nebraska plays host to Erikson quite often, he said. His sister still lives in Seward, Neb., so he visits a lot. Some of his family will be in attendance at Maha.
Garbage was formed after Erikson moved to Madison and played in different bands with Vig.
“I was studying art in Nebraska and I came up here for a couple of art seminars,” Erikson said by phone from his Madison home. “A friend of mine eventually moved up here to go to law school and I was going to maybe continue my studies here in art. I ended up starting a band instead and I've been in bands up here ever since.”
Garbage will soon be touring again. It's the band's first big tour since it went on hiatus seven years ago. Recently, the band reformed and recorded a new album, “Not Your Kind of People.”
Erikson said the time off, which he spent working on a multimedia documentary on the history of American music and doing remixes, was very refreshing.
“I don't think any of us thought we'd take seven years off,” Erikson said. “We're playing better now than we ever have. We're more refreshed and have maybe a healthier perspective on our quote-unquote career. I also think that it's been healthy for us to get back out and play all this music that we've done as well as the new record, which we're really happy with.”
Erikson said Manson initiated the idea for getting the band back together. They talked on the phone, then jammed and then booked some tour dates.
“Next thing, we're making a new record and here I am talking to you,” Erikson said. “It sort of took off.”
Q&A: JOSH ROUSE
Josh Rouse was born in Nebraska and lived here until he was 12. The singer-songwriter also titled his first album, “Dressed Up Like Nebraska.”
But Rouse has never played in his native state. On Saturday, he'll make his first concert appearance in Nebraska at Maha Music Festival.
We talked to Rouse, who now resides in Spain., by phone from New Orleans.
Q. How long did you live in Nebraska?
A. I lived in Nebraska until I was 12 years old and then I moved away, but my mother still lives outside of Paxton (Neb.).
Q. Do you get back here often?
A. I haven't been there in a few years because I've been having kids. It's too hard to travel. This will be the first time. My oldest one is only three and he's been to Nebraska once. And this is my first concert in Nebraska aside from playing at Christmas for my family.
Q. How long have you lived in Spain? What drew you to live there?
A. I've lived there for eight years. I met my wife there. I was there on tour in 2003 or 2004. We kept in contact for about six months and she was nice enough to rent me an apartment. Because I'm a songwriter, I don't have a day job and I had had a career in music over there — England, France, Germany, Spain — I packed a couple of suitcases and rented an apartment and ended up staying.
Q. Have you been working on any new music?
A. I have one that's coming out in March. Brad Jones, a producer, flew over and helped me produce the record.
Q. You've released a new album every year for more than a decade other than in 2012. That's an incredible amount of music. How do you do it?
A. It's something that I like to do, and I've been lucky to make a living at it. It's not like, “Oh man, I have to go write some songs.” Since I've had kids, I've slowed down a bit because I've been busy. You spend a lot of time changing diapers or feeding them or whatever. Still, I've always managed to write 20 songs a year, which isn't bad.
INTERVIEW: DELTA SPIRIT
When Delta Spirit relocated from its home state of California to Brooklyn, it was for one reason: “Wanderlust.”
Band members wanted a new experience and New York seemed like the right place, singer and guitarist Matthew Vasquez said by phone outside the band's Brooklyn rehearsal space.
The band's recent, self-titled album shows the band moving in a slightly new musical direction. Often classified as blues rock, Delta Spirit's genre is referred to as “song music” by Vasquez. He likes to focus on the songwriting and less on the style.
“(Producer) Chris Coady said that before, ‘It stopped being a genre with you guys on this record,” Vasquez said. “We're really proud of that. We just love playing this music. That's how it is.”
Some of the band's songs, such as “9/11,” “Streetwalker” and “California,” have a bright, melodic sound, but sad subjects.
“We have a habit of doing that. It's a good way of having a catchy sad song,” Vasquez said. “Sad songs sometimes deserve to not be wept over. It gives it more power.”
“California,” for example, was written by multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich. It's about a sad, messy breakup, but has a cheery sound.
“He didn't want to put it on the record and we all prodded him saying, ‘Songs are meant to do this and if you're not taking a risk and putting yourself out there, what's the use of being in a band?”
INTERVIEW: FRONTIER RUCKUS
Frontier Ruckus calls Michigan home, but they have a lot of friends in Nebraska.
A video of the band playing a medley of songs from the “Legend of Zelda” video game series went viral months ago. The video was produced and posted by the Love Drunk video team, which is based in Omaha.
“There's a really proud geek community that kind of took to it,” said singer Matthew Milia by phone from his Michigan home.
The folk-rock band is also hard at work on a new double album, “Eternity of Dimming,” that will have 20 songs. Frontier Ruckus' set at Maha Music Festival
will include a lot of the new music.
The album was originally supposed to be out in the fall and the tour was booked as an album-release tour. Though the album's release has been delayed until early 2013, the band's going to play as many of its 20 new songs as possible.
Milia said the new songs are lyrically and musically dense.
“Our records in the past have been somewhat sparse and very organically acoustic,” he said. “This one's a little more taking advantage of the studio and has a lot more electric guitar, organs, keyboards. It's a lot more sonically and lyrically rich.”
The song lyrics alone are more than 5,500 words. The wealth of material came as Milia wrote lots of songs while the band toured for its 2010 album, “Deadmalls & Nightfalls.”
“I accumulated all this material that went together, and I like long, indulgent works,” Milia said. “If you're a fan of Frontier, you're a fan of long songs. Soon, I'd like to challenge myself in the opposite way... and write a short album of 10 songs — maximum 2-to-3-minute songs — with really catchy choruses.”
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