I don’t like mornings, and I don’t like Starbucks. It’s on an intuitive level, nothing personal. However I do like rogue jazz mercenaries, like The Electrosonics, which is how I found myself at Starbucks at 9:37 a.m. on a Wednesday. I know that doesn’t sound so bad, but this is Reno, and I work swing. For me that’s like waking up and going into work four hours early on Monday, just for fun.
So why would I go out of my way and subject my slacker lifestyle to such an intrusion? Basically, because this band has knocked me on my ear every time I have seen them, and I would choke on a cud of regret if I didn’t get an interview and write something about them. OK, maybe that’s overstating the case a little; I could have used the sleep and almost flaked on them. But it’s all about the music, cats, and these are the guys you want to be in your personal backup band.
The Electrosonics are Jason Willamson (vocals), Sam Minaie (bass), Justin Krueger (guitar and rhythmology), Jimmy Hoover (saxophone) and Caleb Dolister (drums). In their third year, they’ve all been in a few local bands, in an incestuous line around town that leads back to UNR jazz bands and house parties. They don’t exactly play jazz, but the influence is there, along with rock, hip hop, blues and a dash of island and Mediterranean beats. In May, Williamson joined the band, adding a lyric element and attraction that has widened their scope from a few friends jamming to some of the most original live music I have ever experienced.
Note: The Electrosonics is not a jam band, despite all appearances; they are spontaneous but structured. Dolister, Krueger and Williamson all frowned at the comparison, quickly saying the common element is improvisation.
“We could almost be a jam band—but without all the hippie bullshit,” Dolister says.
Part of the difficulty in meeting with them was the fact that they were in Sacramento, Calif., for a week recording their first studio CD. A few weeks ago, they were in a Battle of the Bands in Sacramento. The Electros were the only out-of-town band competing with 20 bands, all from the Sac area. They walked away with the first prize and studio time.
Krueger thinks the band’s recent successes are due to a combination of elements.
“We all bring something different …” Krueger says. “I think it’s just our sound being something new, but still something you can dance to, that you can come out and feel totally included.”
And you can feel included at their shows, if you think ‘excluded’ feels like being in the proverbial sardine can. Their years of working the local crowd has helped a lot in the audience department. The only other bands I’ve seen people this excited about have been Phat Couch and The Atomiks. Although with less nudity, the vibe and energy in the room while they are playing is, well, electric. Melodies and rhythms that aren’t worth trying to resist groove through every joint, hip, finger and foot in the room.
If you still have no idea of why I would let a bunch of dirty musicians interrupt my solid eight hours, just go see them. It will remind you of what live music is really all about.