The muse is found

Screw the synthesizer. Mr. Muse and the Fuse Box plays good, old-fashioned organic rock ‘n’ roll

For Mr. Muse and the Fuse Box, “organic” rock means playing actual instruments.

For Mr. Muse and the Fuse Box, “organic” rock means playing actual instruments.

Photo by David Robert

Mr. Muse and the Fuse Box plays at Tradewinds in Kings Beach March 1, The Christmas Tree March 7, Jivin’ Java in Fallon March 15, Knuckleheads Feb. 21 and March 21 and Thursdays at 9 p.m. at the Reno Jazz Club.

High up in the Sierra Nevada, a thin trail of gospel music sneaks out of a door left half-open at a ski resort’s bar. A small group of patrons mills around, drinking ale. Inside, a lone keyboardist plays with the keyboard’s pedals, while the rest of the band looks on from outside, finishing their cigarettes.

One by one, they filter back in, each picking up his instrument as if it were just another cigarette. They start picking and tapping slowly to build on the thin sound. First the bass player, then the drummer, then the guitarist, and then the momentum starts building and the tension mounts until they hit a bridge and jump off of it with a wailing, scratching wah-wah guitar, an ugly slapping base and relentlessly terrorized drums in hand. It’s a fusion that knocks even the most stoned off-duty lift-op out of his stupor.

Mr. Muse and the Fuse Box has just begun its second set, and the people scream for the sound. Yes, something in the room besides sweet-tasting ale and someone’s body odor is organic. Tonight, music peeps its head into the Christmas Tree bar in the tradition of Hendrix, Zeppelin, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robert Johnson and Pink Floyd.

Mr. Muse consists of four 20-somethings who admittedly were band geeks growing up, weaned on brass and banging away fight songs at football games. All their influences actually play their instruments.

“I think Radiohead could be the best band out there,” says Monty Adams, the 26-year-old lead guitarist with a goatee, shoulder length shaggy hair and sunglasses that always end up on his nose as if they were bifocals. “To have them pull what they do off, it blows me away.”

He mentions the oft-used “electronica” in the contemporary English rock band’s songs that gives them an otherworldly sound. The great thing about Radiohead, he says, is that they’re not limited to that.

“Sometimes with their toys, sometimes without,” Adams says. “They don’t need them.”

Later, while sitting in their house in northwest Reno, the band members listen to Radiohead’s O.K. Computer. Tie-dyed scarves cover the windows. They talk about when they saw Radiohead in concert.

“Remember when we saw them at Shoreline?” Adams says. “Everybody but the drummer played the piano.”

Adams, drummer Mike Springer, keyboardist and guitarist Art Halen and bassist Joe Simeo distribute flyers around town that advertise their year-old band as being part of Reno’s counterculture. The band says it wants to expand into the Tahoe area, where it hopes the new generation of hippies, along with the old, will find joy in their sound. When prodded, they’ll descend into a string of abuses for mainstream music, but their approach isn’t an attack on anyone—it’s just a good time.

The band calls its sound "music that makes you think." The goal of the members is to be able to support themselves through playing music. They will achieve this goal, they say, through expanding on their small but loyal fan base—by recruiting music lovers to their grassroots cause.