Keyser Soze
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Keyser Soze


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"Keyser Soze Morphs Musically"

By Brad Nelson - Staff Writer

The walls are covered with posters of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. They play songs that equally recall those artists and the icons of roots reggae, like Burning Spear and Bob Marley.

Anthony Postman’s guitar echoes the spacey reverb of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s dub productions, while vocalist/saxophonist Jamaal Tarkington and vocalist/trombone player Rodney Teague emulate the call-and-response vocal melodies of old reggae records.

Tarkington, Teague, trumpet player Ruben Garcia, and keyboardist Kevin Lum embellish these songs with solos pulled straight from late ‘50s bop, and drummer Justin Kruger holds all these elements in place.

Mayhall, Garcia and Lum are music majors at the University of Nevada, Reno and are in the jazz and improvisation program in the music department.

“We all do a lot of different musical things besides this band too,” Mayhall said.

Various issues with classes make shows and practices difficult to schedule.

“It’s generally a lot nicer being in a band when you’re not in school,” Garcia said.

Tarkington and the other members don’t mind.

“We’re pretty lenient,” he said. “If people are busy, they can veto practices.”

Tarkington identified with the stresses of juggling band and school.

“When Keyser Soze started I was an R.A. at Nye Hall and doing all these other music projects simultaneously,” he said. “But what else was there to do? I’m a sax player. I wanted to play sax as much as possible.”

The practice garage is attached to a house shared by Garcia, Lum, Mayhall and Kruger. Despite the implications of band members living together, conflicts are minor.

“Justin, Ruben and Kevin never clean, and Kevin will eat all of your food,” Tarkington said. But they’ve devised a system to keep everyone alive and happy.

“Any rage we have for each other we take out by playing Mario Kart,” Kruger said.

Keyser Soze was originally born out of another local ska band called The Mudsharks, that featured Tarkington and Teauge. After the Mudsharks disbanded, the two formed Keyser Soze.

“At the start, we were pretty much a ska punk band, which is far removed from our current Jamaican style,” Tarkington said. “People have called it ‘maturing,’ but we still appreciate ska punk. It’s more like we’re ‘evolving.’”

Postman believes in the staying power of his band’s music.

“I think ska’s going to stay alive and well, if only for the energy factor,” he said. “High energy music captures the youth in particular, and it’s such a great expression and an outlet for what’s going on in the world around us.”

Postman said that reggae is a valuable vehicle for social commentary, something that the band hopes to include in the future.

“I think it really echoes with people that are struggling and that might find themselves in hard situations like poverty or racism and I think young audiences can identify with that,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of social commentary in our lyrics, but that’s definitely something that’s influenced most of our members in some degree, and I’m hoping we can bring some of that into our music as we evolve.”

The current lineup has just finished recording a 7-song EP that Postman said will be a lot “rootsier” than the band’s past records. Its expected release is at the end of November. - Nevada Sagebrush


Who Is Keyser Soze? (1998)

Revenge (2000)



Keyser Soze has emerged as a top ska band in the West Coast music scene. Keyser Soze blends roots reggae, ska, dub, dancehall, soul, and jazz. Based out of the Reno/Tahoe area, Keyser Soze has built a presence throughout California and the western states via regional touring, CD sales, press and internet coverage, and radio airplay.

Keyser Soze has produced two independent CDs and expects to produce a third by Fall 2007. Revenge has already sold 6000 copies and continues to sell at shows and regional record stores. Revenge follows the successful debut EP, Who Is Keyser Soze?, which sold 1000 copies itself before the seven songs were reproduced for Revenge. Both CDs have been reviewed favorably in the regional press and supported by commercial and college radio stations. Revenge features 16 energy-packed Keyser Soze originals plus samples, turntables, guest musicians, and is available at live shows, regional record stores and online.

Keyser Soze has shared the stage with many successful international, national and regional artists, playing nightclubs, concerts, and festivals. Headliners include Steel Pulse, Hepcat, The Wailers, Fishbone, Toots and the Maytals, English Beat, Michael Franti/Spearhead, The Specials’ Neville Staple, Long Beach Dub All-Stars, Eek-a-Mouse, Abbysinians, Anthony B, The Descendants, Save Ferris, Dubcat, and Ozomatli. Other successful regional acts Keyer Soze has performed with include The Debonaires, Monkey, Warsaw, Chris Murray, Bargain Music, The Ziggens, Uprite Dub Orchestra, B-Side Players, Satori, and The Soul Captives.

Keyser Soze features solid musicianship and writing from seven talented and promising young artists: Jammal Tarkington, vocals and alto/baritone saxophones; Rodney Teague, trombone and vocals; Ruben Garcia, trumpet/flugelhorn; Kevin Lum, keys; Anthony Postman, guitar; Mike Mayhall, bass; Justin Kruger, drums. Future goals include producing more CDs, national touring and merchandise distribution, nationwide radio and video coverage, extensive press, and international travel.