CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — It’s only April, but ska and reggae band Keyser Soze has wasted little time in 2013. The band is preparing to release its fourth album, touring in the U.S., and readying for a European tour in May.
“Shit is really crazy now, things are on the go,” saxophonist and vocalist Jammal Tarkington told Lake Tahoe Action. “We just recorded an album that we’ve been recording like the last five months. We finished and got it all mastered.”
Due for U.S. release in June, “The Remedy” was recorded in Oakland, Calif. Unlike prior albums, all of the band members are personally invested in this project, Tarkington said.
“I think in general the music that we wrote for this album, everyone in the band digs a little more,’ he said. “The last album had songs that were from people who were in the band before, so there was a couple people in the band who actually recorded the songs, who, you know, they didn’t write it. I think people in the band have a little more at stake in this one, being that they were there from the creation of every tune that we have on this one.”
Named after the enigmatic villain in the film “The Usual Suspects,” Keyser Soze is Tarkington, Rodney Teague (vocals, trombone), Mike Mayhall (bass), Ryan Hall (guitar), Anthony Postman (guitar), Jon Hall (drums), and Dan Weiss (percussion).
The material on this album represents group collaboration, Tarkington said. While all vocals were written by Tarkington and Teague, every member contributed creatively.
“It’s still a ‘we’ thing, for sure, because we’re all adding ourselves when we play and putting our personality into it,” Tarkington said.
Keyser Soze is taking their act overseas for the first time in May. “The Remedy” is being released in Europe by German label Rocking Records, and the band will tour Croatia, Belgium, France, Italy, Poland and Holland, Tarkington said.
In the meantime, Keyser Soze is playing stateside, stopping in at Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room Friday night. The Reno band has a long history in the Crown Room.
“Crystal Bay is like our home away from home,” Tarkington said. “They treat us so well there, and we always have great shows. The sound guy that’s there, Blake Gardner, I’ve worked with him for about 20 years.”
The group has been incorporating elements of “dub” music into their live show lately, an element that may make an appearance Friday.
“We’ve been messing around a lot with some dub music, even taking versions of the songs that are from this album and kind of changing them up and playing them in a dub reggae fashion, speeding up reverbs and delays and dropping vocals out and rearranging things,” Tarkington said. “When we do that it’s live and it’s improvised. It’s a smaller portion of our performance but I think it’s getting to a point now that we’re done recording where we can focus on that a little bit more and get a little bit more into that.”
Whether the stage is in Croatia or at Crystal Bay, the philosophy behind Keyser Soze’s live act is simple: make it fun.
“More than anything it’s more of just looking at it where you put the work in before you get there, and then try to have fun on stage, and connect with the crowd,” Tarkington said. “I would say the main thing is to try to really have fun up there. You can fake having fun, but some people are going to see through that. But when it’s genuine, you know what I mean, people vibe on that and they gravitate toward that and it’s attractive. That’s what we want to try to do is just have fun and make the crowd have fun.”