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Posing Questions with Coley Dennis of Maserati

What is in the water in Athens, Georgia? Bands keep springing up from that town like it’s going out of style. But at least they always seem to be good. The B-52’s, R.E.M. and Widespread Panic all sprouted from the “Classic City,” about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Maserati follows in the footsteps of these illustrious bands. The instrumental quartet of Steve Scarborough (bass), Phil Horan (drums), Coley Dennis and Matt Cherry (guitarists) probes the margins of ordinary rock, with omnipresent cymbals and swirling guitars sharing the stage with ambient jazz structures and prog-y math-y melodies. And for some reason, they play with the drummer in front. The band visits New World Brewery in Ybor City on Monday. In a chat with Dennis, we talked about cars, Fritos and veggies, with a little music thrown in.

Andrew Pina: Why do you guys have the drummer in front?

Coley Dennis: We just wanted to put him somewhere else. We tried other places, but it just felt right in front. We had this one show in New York, and the sound guy didn’t have long enough chords, so (the drummer) was in the back. It felt pretty weird. At this point it’s hard to play when he’s not in front. We bring (longer) chords now.

A.P.: Why do you guys only play instrumental?

C.D.: It wasn’t really a decision. We just never found room for vocals. They would just clutter things up. We wanted the music to stand on its own. But you never know, the next record might have vocals.

A.P.: What’s your fanbase like?

C.D.: It’s weird, I don’t think we really have a certain kind of person that likes us. We’ll have math rock kids, Goth chicks or older people who listened to punk in the early days. I kind of like having a wider fanbase instead of a certain demographic.

A.P.: What are some of your favorite bands?

C.D.: I’d say for me, my favorite bands these days would be Coldplay, U2; I’ve just really been into bands that can create a melody that moves you and know how to use the hook.

A.P.: What is your songwriting process like?

C.D.: It’s really changed over the years. At first, we’d come in with a bunch of ideas or parts and put them together. Now we tend to play together for a while, come up with a few ideas and work around that central theme. I think the song makes more sense and moves a lot smoother that way.

A.P.: Where do you guys eat when you are on the road?

C.D.: Sometimes the people who set up the show cook for us, which is always best for us. We’ll eat fast food when we need (to), but you get really burned out on that stuff after a while and need to eat veggies and stuff, you know?

A.P.: What’s it like to be on Kindercore Records?

C.D.: They are really supportive of what we want to do. We’ve known (co-founders) Dan (Gellar) and Ryan (Lewis) for a while now, so it kind of made sense when we were ready to put out the Language of the Cities record. We were a little worried because we were the first band to cross over, (along) with a lot of the new bands they signed, so we are the guinea pigs, I guess. Hopefully, the label doesn’t fail, or I’m sure we’ll get the blame. (Laughs.)

A.P.: Since you’re from Georgia, who do you like more, Outkast or Ludacris? Why?

C.D.: Hmm … that’s a tough one. I’d say the band would be totally split on this one. I personally liked Outkast better in the beginning, but Luda can bring the jams. You know he gets laid mo’ than Fritos.

A.P.: What’s up with the name “Maserati?” Do you really like the cars?

Well, Phil does, but that’s not really why we took the name. We just wanted a one-word name that was simple and people would remember, not to mention something that people would think they recognized. No, really, we’re just big Eagles fans.

Contact Andrew Pina at