An unusual thing about Reno is that the city has a fairly diverse overall music scene, which is itself a collection of many overlapping miniature scenes, but the overall scene is small enough that there tends to be a lot more cross-pollination than there is in larger cities, where musicians from different genres tend not to intersect. A prime example of this kind of cross-pollination is Time Capsule, a new album credited to the local psychedelic rock band Bazooka Zoo, but actually a collaborative effort made by 34 local musicians, ranging from jazz instrumentalists to rappers, and from rock guitarists to electronic beat makers.
According to Zac “Bazooka Zac” Haley, the Bazooka Zoo name is an umbrella term for all of his and his bandmates’ creative projects—including videos, albums, artwork, fundraisers and parties. The group’s current lineup includes Haley on guitar, Scott Turek on keyboards and synthesizer, J.D. Christison on drums, and Mac Esposito on bass. The band’s last record, Satellite Series, is a rock album reminiscent of the band’s live show. But Time Capsule is a record that Haley describes as “all the guys in the band, making new music with our friends.”
Time Capsule isn’t even really a rock record. The music is more like dreamy, atmospheric, psychedelic hip-hop. One of the great things about hip-hop has long been how it’s able to seamlessly absorb aspects from other genres, which makes it an ideal base for this sort of eclectic collaboration.
“This album is for stoners,” said Haley. “It’s headphone music, for sure. It’s all about textures and sound effects—so many sounds you’ve never heard before—big, nasty synthesizers and lots of pedal effects.”
The album is available streaming for free on the band’s Bandcamp page. The website details every musician on the album, which songs they perform, and includes links to their websites. Building up to the release of the album, the band’s Facebook page, featured photos and brief bios of all the musicians involved.
“That was just introducing the entire cast of Time Capsule,” said Haley. “I wanted to take my time with it so that people could see that this was a record that had so many individuals on it.”
Haley said that he goes to three or four local concerts a week and would just invite musicians to participate if he thought they might fit with the “minimal skeleton” of songs he was working on. The cast of musicians ranges from a Las Vegas metal guitarist, Sergio Medina, to Emily Chamberlain, a mellow piano-playing singer-songwriter who recently moved to Northern Nevada. The album also features unusual instruments, like a Theremin played by Drew Ernhout, and a didgeridoo played by Cody Mac.
The seemingly disparate cast and wide range of instruments might seem like it would be challenging to tie together in a cohesive way, but Haley believes he was successful in doing so.
“The thing that worked is that I’m just one guy, and I got to produce the entire record,” he said. So that’s the interlocking thing that pulled the album together—there’s just one producer.”
Haley, who’s currently in his last semester as an undergrad at the University of Nevada, Reno, worked on the album every week throughout 2014. He did all the engineering, mixing and mastering of the record.
“I just wanted to make new music—new, futuristic, synthetic music with lots of genres and people, and not be like, this is this kind of band and we play this kind of music,' and put myself in a box,” he said. “This album is just breaking free of all the constraints and labels.”