My favorite Bushism goes something like this: “My job is to, like, think beyond the immediate.” And on most nights, as I watch some talented local band play to two people tanked up on Soggy Jorges (whiskey, Baileys and root beer, in no discernible proportion), I take comfort in the wisdom offered by our bumbling POTUS. For one thing, Reno has always had more talent than audience, and if people actually started going to shows, it might turn into California: a bunch of well-dressed bores standing still to dance music.
Fortunately for Reno, there are still bands like Obscured who see things the way they are and want to do something about it. Their Web site proclaims, “Welcome back to the scene…” And the first thing that will strike you is that the scene is inclusive.
“We don’t even look like we belong together,” says Matt Stevens, the band’s drummer.
“This band is the textbook definition of opposites attract,” adds Brandon Deriso, lead vocalist.
The band’s influences are as divergent as their appearance. Stevens is into everything from funk to prog rock. Deriso brings a nu-metal and hardcore sensibility to the vocals. Evan Stern, the band’s bassist, is also a classically trained cellist and violinist pursuing a degree in music. And Alex Marcy, the band’s guitarist, like many suburban teenagers, started with Rob Zombie and worked his way forward.
In what is probably a first, the band owes its existence to the Core Humanities (formerly Western Traditions) requirement at UNR, as Marcy explains: “I had a song go into my WT class. We had to do an essay or a creative project, so within two weeks I came up with the song and lyrics and did a little music video. And I was still high on that when I saw Brandon’s ad in the RN&R. So, I called him up and that’s how I snagged it: I just went over and played a WT song.”
“It was just an instant connection when the four of us got together; it was just instant chemistry,” says Stern. “It was just a really relaxed environment—not only from song writing but just our relationships as four individuals. All four of us get equal input in all the songs so there’s really no front man. It’s just the greatest band environment I’ve ever been in.”
And that, unfortunately, is my biggest criticism of the band: It seems too comfortable, too democratic. There are a lot of ideas that haven’t gone anywhere yet. When the rhythm section is really hauling ass or doing something interesting, there isn’t a decent riff to back it up. And, at certain points, it seems like nu-metal is the fall-back position.
There is hope, however. At the end of my interview, I was invited inside to listen to a new song they were working on, and it was my favorite of the bunch. It had the long, slow sophisticated sound of a good Tool song. So I’m not, to borrow another elegant expression from GW, going to misunderestimate them.