Column 68: A Jury of Statistics…

Category: Blog — @ 1:03 pm March 16, 2006

The scoop that people are really dying to know that’s missing below: What about Lea? The last time I saw Denver before this encounter was on the stairwell of Sokol Underground, where he was so “occupied” with actress Lea Thompson that I didn’t want to bother him to say see-ya-later. I mentioned this to him and he just smiled. Denver doesn’t kiss and tell, apparently. He did say he’s kept in touch with Thompson and Dave Foley — both co-starring in the movie”Out of Omaha” along with local filmmaker Nik Fackler, which was shot here last October. “I’m still good friends with them,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll see them in L.A. Dave has a club he likes to go to where Jon Brion plays all the time.” That would be Largo (between Melrose and Beverly Blvd.), where Brion plays every Friday night. Ah, the life of a star…

Column 68 — Dilly Dalleying in Court
A chat with Juror No. 23
There are few things more dull in life than serving on jury duty. You get the letter in the mail. You show up at the appointed time. You sit in a cramped little room filled with the other unlucky few forced to give up two weeks of their lives for the right to vote and drive a car. It’s the price you pay for liberty, I suppose. You do your time like a good citizen and if you’re lucky, they won’t call your number and force you to sit and listen to cheap-suit lawyers argue over whether their client had the right-of-way when the light turned yellow.

So there I was, Juror No. 73, stuck in stuffy Courtroom 20 in the Douglas Co. Courthouse, bored, absently listening as the names were called, when suddenly up walked Juror No. 23. “What is your name and occupation?” asked the bailiff.

I wanted him to say, “My name is Denver Dalley and I’m a ROCK STAR.” Instead, the frontman to Omaha indie band Statistics and guitar player for Saddle Creek act Desaparecidos (a band on perpetual hiatus), merely said, “I’m Denver Dalley, and I’m a musician.” Dalley sat quietly throughout the vior dire process, looking forlorn in his blue hooded wind-breaker. I don’t know how he did it, but when it came time to appoint the final jury, his name was struck from the list and he left the jury box, relieved.

Dalley had arrived in Omaha the morning of the first day’s jury proceedings, driving straight from his parents’ home in Nashville, where he’s been living for the past few months while working on a new recording project called Intramural. More on that later.

Maybe the most interesting news was that Dalley has left Jade Tree Records, the label that took him on in early 2003. The original deal called for releasing one record and two “optionals.” With two records out, Denver wanted out of the third, and got out. “When I first signed, there was a lot of personal contact and excitement, then it got to the point where I barely heard from them,” Dalley said during one of the few breaks during our court time. “It wasn’t the same label that I signed to. I’m not trying to totally trash them, but I really didn’t want to work with them anymore.”

Jade Tree had been offered the Intramural project, but was confused at the concept, which involves Dalley and Nashville partner in crime Sam Shacklock writing and producing tracks that are then sent to other artists for vocal tracks. Upon hearing the initial instrumental tracks, Jade Tree thought the project sounded “unfinished” (Duh!). After they passed, he gave a copy to Slowdance Records label executive Ezra Caraeff. “He immediately heard the potential,” Dalley said. “He was stoked.”

Shacklock is the son of Abbey Roads Studio producer Alan Shacklock, who’s worked with the likes of Roger Daltrey, Jeff Beck and Meatloaf. “When he was doing sessions over there he got a number of outtakes that enabled us to get all these amazing drum samples and string sounds from the London Symphony Orchestra,” Dalley said.

But more impressive is the list of artists supplying vocals, including The Long Winters, Minipop, Slender Means, The Pale Pacific, Men Women and Children, Brand New, The Evening Episode, and last but not least, Greg Dulli (Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs).

While in town, Dalley is working with local filmmakers Nik Fackler and Aaron Gum to develop videos for each song on the album. The final product may be used for an Intramural tour. After he moves to Los Angeles in the coming weeks, Dalley said he plans to ask Dulli if he can film him playing piano at a local dive bar. Very cool… if it happens.

With all but one song mixed, the only thing left is mastering. Dalley said he’s shooting for an August release date, which would be followed by an Intramural tour featuring him, Shacklock and a yet-to-be-named drummer. “We’d all be running around doing different things, playing keyboards and playing guitars and stuff,” Dalley said.

So what’s going on with Statistics? “I’m taking time off, but will come back eventually,” Dalley said. “I want to record the next album entirely on my own and take as much time as I need. Right now I’m focused on this new project. I was determined to not tour for a while, but my UK booker really wants me to come over in September.”

It was European tours that got Dalley out of two other requests for jury duty. He said he couldn’t avoid serving any longer. By the end of our second day, however, it was all over. Neither Juror 23 nor 73 was ever called, and both were excused. I know I can speak for Dalley when I say how proud we are to have performed our civic duty.

God bless America.

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