Slim Cessna’s Auto Club has been delivering riveting, high-octane sets for more than two decades, earning a sizable international audience along the way. And for nearly half that time, some members of the Denver-based group have been part of a much quieter quartet called DBUK.
“It’s a different experience,” says Slim Cessna of DBUK. “It’s actually quite challenging for me. I’m only speaking for myself, because there’s a lot of concentration. The Auto Club is a rock band, and when you mess up, it’s kind of fun. It’s part of...everyone’s drinking and whatever. With DBUK, it’s very intimate and honest, quiet and lovely. It’s nice to be able to do both of those things.”
DBUK, which was originally called Denver Broncos UK, was formed ten years ago as a trio featuring Auto Club members Cessna, Jay Munly and Lord Dwight Pentacost, who were all living in different states at the time. Cessna says they started recording ideas and sending them to each other, with some of the original recordings done on a four-track recorder. The band played a few shows before adding Rebecca Vera, who’s part of Munly & the Lupercalians (another side project) and has since joined the Auto Club.
Now that Cessna, who had been living in Pittsburgh, and Pentacost, who had been based in Boston, are living in Denver again, it’s been easier for DBUK to finish Songs One Through Eight, the act’s debut full-length. It’s also the second release on SCAC Unincorporated, the Auto Club’s new label, which was founded earlier this year.
“I think it took time just because we were taking our time,” Cessna says of the new album. “The Auto Club — we tend to travel a lot, and so that uses up a lot of our effort. And so other projects, we don’t get to get to them as quickly because of that. I don’t think we ever really considered it a side project, though. We’re all as into DBUK as everything else that we have going.”
Much of the identity of DBUK comes from Munly, who’s the project’s chief songwriter and lead singer. And while DBUK is more quiet and more experimental, Cessna says that he and his bandmates weren’t simply trying to create the Auto Club’s opposite.
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“These songs are important to us, and we’re trying to make them what they are,” he says. “In a way, that’s also what we do with the Auto Club. It really might come down to the players: Rebecca, Dwight and I are responding to the song that’s given to us from Munly...and so it might just lead to him and him writing it and how gifted he is, and his ability to do that. I think that might be more what the starting point might be for both bands, for that matter.”
Since DBUK uses sparser instrumentation and more stripped-down arrangements than the Auto Club, there’s more of a focus on Munly’s lyrics. And while it might not be completely apparent from just a few spins through Songs One Through Eight, there is humor in his songwriting, too, as when he sings, “It sounds like one of the hip-hop songs, Kool Moe Dee or Humpty” (from “The Columbia Girl”).
“What I really love about it and about [Munly] and his writing is that there is a sense of humor in it,” Cessna agrees, “and that applies to the Auto Club as well. But it’s a not a ‘Weird Al’ sense of humor. It’s more like an American-literature humor.”
DBUK album-release show
With GetYourGoing and Ted Thacker, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, October 24, Mercury Cafe, $15, 303-294-9281.