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Maserati Returns to Play AthFest, Talks European Tour and Upcoming Film Score

Maserati. Credit: Arbre E. Saldana

Two years have passed since Maserati last played a show in Athens. It was also when the annual summer AthFest took over downtown with its three-day celebration of local arts and live music. This year, AthFest returns with a lineup boasting a much-anticipated hometown return for Maserati, landing the retro-futuristic ensemble on stage at the Georgia Theatre on Saturday, June 22—just as the weekend of revelry reaches a fever pitch.

The years between these local appearances have been a time of affirmation for Maserati. In May, the group embarked on a three-week tour of Europe, entrancing audiences with precise, high-energy songs such as “Inventions” from 2007’s Inventions For The New Season, “Monoliths” from 2009’s Passages EP, and the title cut from 2010’s recently reissued Pyramid Of The Sun—all released via the Brooklyn label Temporary Residence Limited. Each number blends the trippier essence of early ’80s sci-fi sonic textures with an empowering cinematic, post-punk and mostly instrumental post-rock charge.

The European trek, by all accounts, was the group’s smoothest overseas trip yet. By guitar player Matt Cherry’s estimation, the tour marked Maserati’s eighth trans-European excursion in the group’s nearly 25 years of playing music together.

“Part of [what made it so great] is Coley [Dennis] being there,” Cherry says, noting that the guitar player and Maserati co-founder Dennis has lived in Lausanne, Switzerland since 2015. “Part of it is also the fun and gratification factor of touring Europe is up by about 300% over touring the U.S. So if we’re going to take the time and do it, we’re gonna do it.”

Romain Ballez

Since forming in the year 2000, Maserati has endured just about everything that would rip most bands apart at the seams: Marriage, starting new families, cycling through band members, death of family members and the unexpected death of drummer Jerry Fuchs in 2009. 

Maserati’s current lineup—rounded out by guitar players Cherry and Dennis playing alongside guitarist and synth player Mason Brown, bass player Chris McNeal and drummer Mike Albanese—is forever leaning into the future, finding new ways to creatively eschew traditional rock structures while commanding swaggering and immersive atmospheres.

The secret to Maserati’s longevity is kinship above all else.

“If you don’t like the people you’re playing music with, it’s done,” Cherry says. “It’s hard to be in the van with somebody for three weeks. You have to get along in terms of somebody’s ideas not feeling so out of place that it becomes a personal issue to pull it back into the sphere of what’s acceptable within the constraints of the band’s musical mission statement. I’m always interested and excited about what people come up with. We’re candid with each other. If somebody doesn’t like something, they’ll say they don’t like it,” he adds. “With these guys, that doesn’t get in the way, and we’re getting better at it.”

Brown adds, “We all know how each other works on the road and we’ve learned what pushes each other’s buttons, and how to keep things chill between everybody.” 

A quick run of East Coast and Midwest summer shows sharing stages with Seattle’s instrumental post-rock outfit Unwed Sailor kicks off July 26.

In the meantime, the group is piecing together material for an upcoming film soundtrack.

The idea was born in the summer of 2023 when Los Angeles-based indie filmmaker Robert Cannon approached the group. Cannon had the band in mind while writing the script for a full-length crime thriller, titled Prowler, and asked them to compose the score. There is no dialogue in the script for what the group calls a “chase film.”

“We’ve done probably seven or eight songs so far, and there are maybe five keepers and some scraps,” Albanese says. “We’ve all dug into the script. Part of the cool thing about the movie is that it’s very practical in a 2024 environment. It’s sort of like how you would defeat a Ring camera; using the tools you would get off the internet to break into people’s houses if that was your occupation.”

Albanese describes one scene in which a character is trapped in an apartment and is cutting through drywall to get into the adjacent apartment. “The writing on the page is really intense,” he says. “So Chris came up with a really intense synth line, and everybody started adding their parts over it.” 

The group is also writing for the film without any prompts, conceptualizing themes the members feel are relevant to the film, so they won’t start from zero when they have a synced picture.

“It will be interesting and challenging editing songs in ways that we’ve never had to before,” Albanese says.

Technically, the director is Maserati’s client in the process. “Usually, whatever the weirdest, coolest things we do, we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s cool!’ But this is a hired gig,” Cherry says. “Ultimately, what we’re doing isn’t subservient to the picture, but it isn’t just whatever we want to do. We’re working within the parameters of his script and his tastes. He has informed opinions. He’s been a pleasure to work with, and he came to us to get something that we’re enthusiastic about creating.”

Over the years, Maserati has had countless opportunities where people approached the band to collaborate or contribute to a project that isn’t what they do naturally. This is one of the first scoring projects that Maserati has done where it is directly in the group’s wheelhouse.

After the upcoming U.S. tour dates, the group will focus on the soundtrack. “That feels like a natural launching point to start writing a new Maserati record,” McNeal says. “I’m feeling very energized about writing again with these guys. It’s been a few years, and it’s always effortless writing with them. I’ll send in a bass line, and I’m excited to hear what they do with it. Most of the time it blows my mind.”

Such familiar yet unpredictable moments like these keep Maserati forever moving forward, reimagining the future, even if a few years go by between coming home to play a show.

WHO: Maserati, Maps & Atlases, Pylon Reenactment Society
WHEN: Saturday, June 22, 10 p.m.
WHERE: Georgia Theatre 
HOW MUCH: $35–40 (AthFest club crawl wristband)