|Connection is key! Interview with Jammal from Keyser Soze
I think that’s important to try to give back when being given the chance to travel, and play, and connect with different scenes like we do on tour. Connection is key! We are stronger in numbers!
Hot Shot Wear: Hello Jamal, Before You gonna introduce a band and tell us his story, I have to ask You about band name. Why Keyser Soze? Are You thinking about Yourself as a boss of All bosses?:)
Jammal: We got the name from the movie The Usual Suspects. We liked the mysteriousness of the guy behind the scenes that was making shit happen, but no one knew who he was or when they were actually working for him. A great local producer/engineer Tom Gordon who recorded our 1st full length, was the room mate of the writer of that flick and gave us permission to use the name.
Hot Shot Wear: This nice story about how small is World. We know why you choose that name for a band. And You can introduce Keyser Soze and tell us how everything started?
Jammal: So the band started late 90s. I say 1998. Rodney and I had known each other from high school honor bands grown up in California. Then we both played in a group from Reno called the Mudsharks. The group was really successful, but as it started to fall apart Rodney and I started writing songs for our next project which turned into Keyser Soze. The sound was definitely more ska-punk back then. We had a solid line up in the initial years & we established ourselves on the West Coast. Then as members started to change, it was hard to keep a solid line up in the intermediate years. Looking to push things to the next level if we can with our next releases and touring.
Hot Shot Wear: As I can see You are not the fastest band In World when it cames to recording music. Keyser Soze was formed In 1998 and You recorded so far Only 3 albums. Are You so busy In your jobs? I hope Your are working on something New ;)
Jammal: We do all have other gigs, But we had a bad run of several drummers for a couple of years where we just couldn’t keep a solid rhythm section together. This was also the period when we switched from playing more Fishbone/Op Ivy influenced Ska-Punk sound to a more traditional and soulful expression. We are currently working on new material that I’m really digging. Rodney has some great vocal melodies for his tunes. Chris Williams our newest member is writing lots of strong horn figures for these tunes. Everyone in the group is writing new tracks for the band. So things are coming out a lot faster. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Blake Colie drummer/producer of the Lions (StonesThrow) on a dub/version release of some tunes from our last record the Remedy which we will release on 45s ! Nice to be working with someone you look up to so much. One of the nicest, most talented cats ever and these dubs sound wicked !
Hot Shot Wear: Nice to hear that You are working on new material. I hope you gonna have this 45’s on Keyser Soze autumn tour.
Jammal: We will hopefully have the dub 7 inch with us this next time through Europe. Things are looking like it should be released by this summer.
Hot Shot Wear: I have not Heard your debut album but ‘The Remedy’ and ‘Not For You’ are great mics of reggae, ska, soul with jazz influences. So I Wonder if Keyser Soze musicians are from different backgrounds and You decided to mix Yours favorites styles?
Jammal: It’s definitely a mix of styles we all pull from to make our collective style. Rodney Teague and I spearhead the group, so I would say we have a strong influence on the direction of the sound. But as I said everyone is writing tunes for the group so we all add to the basis of the style. We bounce a lot of music off of each other and with other groups we connect with and dig. Mano from the Debonaires always hips me to cool stuff. I connect with a lot of djs in the scene... Nina Cole, Adam from "Wake the Town" in SF.
Hot Shot Wear: Who In the band is responsible for lyrics and music?
Jammal: We all write foundations and arrangements for tunes. The horn players normally write the lines for the section, although Ryan wrote the horn melody for his tune Dreidel Dub on the Remedy. Rodney and I write all the lyrics for the tunes we sing. I’d like to start harmonizing and singing more stuff together.
Hot Shot Wear: Maybe I’m wrong but I’ve the feeling that Keyser Soze musician got a solid music education.
Jammal: We have all studied music significantly. Most of us at the University Music program here in Reno. Mike and Chris both completed their undergrad study. Mostly jazz course between us all, with some legit training also. Ryan has studied independently with Fripp I think.
Hot Shot Wear: I now that there is a planty of bands and artist who exerted the greatest influence on you but can You tell me three bands/atrist who exerted the greatest influence on you?
Jammal: Man that would be hard to limit it down. When we 1st started, no question Fishbone was our biggest influence. Getting to play with those guys and becoming friends with them was crazy for me growing up as much as I looked up to them. As we moved towards a more traditional sound of course the Skatalites/Studio 1 was a major influence especially as we are all jazz musicians. King Tubby and the things he was doing with dub music has definitely been a strong thing to pull from in our reggae and dub tunes. I can’t neglect to inject all the new bands playing this style that we dig and listen to also. I’m not sure I’d consider them all influences but surely a awareness of the other vibes being cultivated by other groups has played a part in what we do and what we don’t do. Respect to Chris Murray, The Lions, the Debs, The Expanders, and the Drastics.
Hot Shot Wear: I now that You are not Only a member of Keyser Soze but you’re also a dj. Can You tell us something about it. What you play etc.
Jammal: As a selector I play all kinds of music I guess. I get booked to play a lot of soul and rocksteady under the moniker StaxOfWax. I’ve been collecting vinyl for over 25 years so there’s a lot of genres in my collection. I started out collecting jazz records, which will never stop! So the majority of my wax is jazz stuff. Prob 70 or so original pressing Coltrane records, prob the same amount of Sun Ra, Mingus and Eric Dolphy in my crates. Around my senior year in high school I started buying a lot of reggae and ska. I think Lloyd Knibbs signed 24 Skatalites records for me before he passed. I never meant to be a dj. I was always a collector and student of the style. Djing is always been just fun for me!
Hot Shot Wear: I also know that You are a social Worker can You tell us something more about it?
Jammal: Ruben our old trumpet player is a social worker. Although I am a member of the Universal Zulu Nation and we do a lot of work in youth activism and culture. Maybe we can do some performances and connect with some of that at risk, less fortunate youths in Poland when we come through ?!
Hot Shot Wear: I think we should do something In Łódź.
Jammal: Hopefully we can do some things for underprivileged and/or at risk youth in your community when we come back. I think that’s important to try to give back when being given the chance to travel, and play, and connect with different scenes like we do on tour. Connection is key! We are stronger in numbers!
Hot Shot Wear: Last summer Keyser Soze was touring In Europe and of course in Poland as well. What was Your impression? Did you enjoy time here? Maybe you Got some funny Or even scary stories from this tour?
Jammal: Man that tour was a blast ! Respect to Oli and Patricia from Rocking Records for treating us so well and bringing us over to meet all these great bands and fans of the scene in Europe. I can’t wait to come back and share some of these new tunes with everyone again. Seeing all these places we’ve only read about or seen on tv was monumental! Playing amazing festivals in Germany and Switzerland! Checking out all the great bands over there. Experiencing the different cultures and landscapes driving through 10 countries in a month, I can’t wait to do it again!
Hot Shot Wear: I know that You are open to do something more during the next Europe tour than only play gigs. Tell us something about this, maybe somebody is going to be interested In some kind of cooperation.
Jammal: Hopefully we can link with some of our friends in bands we met last tour. Leo and the LineUp, the Clerks, Jamaram we’re all really cool bands with great things going on in their neck of the woods. I hope we can connect and play some dates with them all.
Hot Shot Wear: Keyser Soze albums have been issued In Europe by Rocking Records. How did Your cooperation started? I have to admit that Olli from Rocking Records Has a great taste of music.
Jammal: I randomly met Oli online not knowing how heavy were both were in our perspective scenes. After bouncing stuff we were into off of each other we both came to realize he ran a label and I was in a touring band. We just clicked. Oli is such a great guy. I can’t say enough about how much we appreciate the connection with Rocking Records. We tried to make it out in 2012 when he decided to help us release " But Not For You ". But we couldn’t make it happen that year. Got our ducks in a row and 2013 was the year we made it happen.
Hot Shot Wear: I know that You are going to be back In Europe on autumn. Where are You going to play? Have You got all dates? Or maybe people who want to see Keyser Soze In their Town still have a chance to contact with You or Olli?
Jammal: We’re locking stuff down now. I know Poland and Germany are worked out. We are still looking for as many festival plays as we can. Definitely time to still contact Oli for Sept/Oct dates. I think we’re looking at calling it the Autumn Leaves Tour
Hot Shot Wear: Thank You very much for opportunity to ask You this few questions and thank You for Your time. As You know I wasn’t able to be at Keyser Soze gig last year so I can’t wait to see You on stage in Poland In autumn. Do You want to add something else, maybe I didn’t ask about something important and I should?
Jammal: Respect the Selectors! Shout outs to DJ Nina Cole, The Dukes of Skazzard, Junor Francis, Capitol City HiFi, Dj Sha One, Tommy Far East, Wake the Town, David Crane, Tribe of Kings, Redlocks, Debonaires Sound System, Gabe Pressure, Mad Planet, PicksterOne, Dj Saurus, Jah Warrior Shelter HiFi, StoneLove, Rocky Bailey, IJV, David Rodigan & RogerRivas!
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