Big bang theory
There might still be debate about the medical merits of marijuana, but there’s no doubt that pot has been good for music. From Louis Armstrong to Dr. Dre, from The Beatles to Willie Nelson, many a musical genius has been sparked by marijuana. That’s not to say that all good music is made by the very high. But the musical world would not be nearly as eclectic and colorful were it not for reefer.
One musical sub-genre heavily and obviously indebted to the leafy sacrament is stoner rock. Stoner rock takes the basic sounds of Sabbath-influenced heavy metal—loud, distorted guitars and hammer-of-Thor drums—and slows them way down. This brings out the inherent psychedelia and blues in the music. Whereas a lot of commercial metal sounds angry or aggressive, stoner rock sounds, at its best, hypnotic, meditative and even relaxing—like a mud bath for your ears.
“Slow—the goal is slow, but it always ends up too fast,” says Mike Mechanic, the bassist and vocalist of Reno stoner rock band Huck. The experience of their live shows often attracts a crowd of people all banging their heads in slow, steady unison to the deep, seemingly bottomless groove of the music.
“We’ll get you to headbang almost to the point of ripping your head off,” says Mechanic. “You’ll definitely have a bangover the next day.”
The band is a two-piece—just Mechanic and drummer Spencer B.—though they’re sometimes joined onstage by guest musicians. Huck performances usually incorporate psychedelic light shows and smoke machines. They’ve been known to set off fire alarms at local venues.
The group started in 2006, with Mechanic and drummer John Ludwick, now the bassist for mercurial local rock band the Humans. The current lineup has been in effect for about two years.
“There is another band called Huck,” says Mechanic. “You get on the internet and do a Google search for any band name, and it’s taken. … But if they have a problem, they’re welcome to come fight me.” He laughs. “I’ll win.” It’s not a cocky boast, just a simple, and funny, fact.
That casual swagger is also palpable in Huck’s music. This is a band with nothing to prove. The band members don’t need to play fast to show off their technical skills. And though Mechanic runs his bass through a range of effects pedals, there’s not an ounce of wanky ego in his playing. It’s all just a solid, formidable groove. To paraphrase the Geto Boys, Huck doesn’t need to flex nuts, because Huck knows they got ’em.
The average Huck song lasts about 10 minutes, though some stretch into the 15 or 20 minute mark. Mechanic howls his narrative lyrics in a raspy basso profundo.
“One’s about a girl hopping on a train and getting out of town and never coming back,” he says. Another song is about “quitting your job and floating down the river.”
Huck is also known to throw a variety of cover songs into live shows, from “Amazing Grace” or bluesman Memphis Slim’s “I Guess I’m a Fool” to Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee” or Black Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral.”
Huck performs at the Wonder Well Gallery on Jan. 11. Anticipate a bangover.