Reno, NV 89501
The kids do stand a chance. The members of Crush, a local, fantastic, shambling hybrid of ’90s grunge and ’60s pop, are all in high school.
Their show with local favorites My Flag is on Fire on Jan. 10 exhibited their youthful, distorted crunch. Later in the show, My Flag is on Fire’s Ty Williams called them—I’m paraphrasing—bright young things descended from the sky. He’s right. That Reno can seemingly grow such talent from the ground is a cause for hope for the local music scene and its continued existence.
Crush formed in 2008, but its members have known each other for far longer: Guitarists Aaron Sion and Parker Hames and bassist Reese Swearingen have known each other since second grade. Drummer Jimmy Dunn joined the band through Sion, who was impressed with Dunn’s drumming in Wooster High School’s jazz band.
The members of Crush describe their music as “grunge-pop,” and it definitely occupies a middle between the two genres. The swampy grooves of “Long Lost World” at times resemble a less jaded Meat Puppets. The lackadaisical, indifferent vocal delivery on “Voice from the Water” makes Crush initially sound like a Stephen Malkmus-fronted Nirvana, emphasizing the latter group when the guitars and drums ramp up in the chorus. While the majority of Crush’s songs evoke this genre hybrid, they also dip into older song structures—thus the song “For Yourself,” which sounds like an orphan from the Beatles’ early Hamburg performances.
“We incorporate ’50s, Beatles-esque stuff, but it’s mostly ’90s and ’60s,” says Sion. (Though The Beatles didn’t form until 1960, they were initially heavily influenced by the songs of the preceding decade.)
Swearingen says the debt to earlier rock ’n’ roll “is kind of Aaron’s fault. When he writes songs, they’re kind of stuck on this ’50s vamping. It’s hella cool.”
The songwriting and lead singing are also fluid among members.
“We collaborate sometimes, and other times we show songs to each other,” says Hames.
“A lot of times we’re jamming for fun and ideas come out, and we work off those,” says Sion. “But we all individually write, as well.”
The difficulties in budgeting time for songwriting, recording and practicing come into sharp relief when held against a high school schedule.
“I have two jobs, too,” says Swearingen. “It’s pretty tough.”
“Music is pretty much our first priority, though,” says Sion. “We always find times to practice. There are times on school nights or weeknights where we’ve been staying up late recording.”
And despite Crush’s general youth, they’re still able to play shows in a largely 21-plus town.
“We play bar shows a lot, and they’re pretty chill about it,” says Dunn. “Bars recruit us to play, and we aren’t going to be drinking their alcohol. We’re just playing music for the people getting drunk.”
Regardless, they do prefer playing for a young crowd, much like the one that enthusiastically received them at the aforementioned show earlier this month.
“The thing about playing bars is that you don’t get a youth crowd at all,” says Dunn.
“I like playing for drunk people, though,” says Sion. “Don’t get me wrong.”
What matters most to Crush is that they leave an impression on any and all attendant ears.
“The audience, even if they’re only there for 30 seconds, I want that 30 seconds to sound perfect,” says Sion. “They’re going to see us at least a little bit. Every little bit counts.”