Revenge of Keyser Soze
Popular local band takes the next step with its first full-length CD
Who is Keyser Soze? Reno music followers have answered that mysterious question—from the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects—for more than four years now.
Keyser Soze is one of the most well-known Reno bands. Its members have made a name for themselves with trademark high-energy shows and a musical style that adapts itself to the ears of many listeners.
And now the sextet is trying to take the next step and bring their music into the homes and cars of people in Reno and beyond. The band’s first full-length album, Revenge, comes out in style on New Year’s Eve at the Little Waldorf Saloon. Band members say the album is overdue.
“We’ve been waiting too long,” says singer and saxophone player Jammal Tarkington. “Seventy-five percent of the roots and music for the next album are already done.”
A new record may be just the thing to push Keyser Soze to the next level, says guitarist Brian Trotter.
“This one was a long time coming,” Trotter says. “Our primary goal now is to establish a regional presence.”
This won’t be Keyser Soze’s first venture into recording a CD. The band has already self-released a seven-song EP titled Who Is Keyser Soze? which sold 2,000 copies. The songs on the EP have been re-recorded for Revenge. But while some songs on Revenge may be familiar to the Keyser Soze faithful, band members say that growing is an important part of keeping people interested in their music.
“Now that the band has reestablished itself, we have to find a way to evolve so the next record isn’t Revenge: Part II,” new drummer Matt Mayhall says. Mayhall took over for Eric Olivas, whose work appears on the album.
Rounding out Keyser Soze is Rodney Teague singing and playing trombone and Louis Bertano on bass. Keyser Soze has also brought in Eric Sasz—known to many in Reno as DJ Saurus—to give the band more musical styles to work with. Having turntables allows the band to use sampling and scratching, among other aspects of deejaying, to add another layer to their music.
The band also uses some guest musicians on the new album, including local saxophone favorite Brian Landrus. Other guests include Grant Levin on piano, Mike Souliere on trombone and Ryan Hall playing guitar.
Keyser Soze’s mix of ska, reggae, jazz, Latin, hip-hop and punk resonates well with listeners. While the music isn’t too aggressive, it certainly isn’t going to lull people to sleep, either. And though their music has certainly kept many fans interested, their live shows are where they have made a name for themselves. Keyser Soze’s shows almost always draw a good crowd, and they do their best to send audiences away happy.
Keyser Soze is also looking to bring more bands in from out of town, and they hope the new album will get out-of-town bands more familiar with the Reno music scene. The members of Keyser Soze also say they would like to see more Reno bands making the trip over the Sierra to play shows.
Tarkington says that bands like December and Fall Silent have helped push the local music scene by going out on the road, and he would like to see more follow.
“Try to record some music and give Reno a name," he says. "Play out of town. That’s what people have to do."