Recent Pacific Grove High grads Mozzo Kush deliver talent way beyond their years.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
On a late Wednesday afternoon, Mozzo Kush, one of the more exciting bands in the homegrown music scene in recent years, gathers for rehearsal at drummer Taylor Jones’s house in Pacific Grove. The two-car garage-turned-practice-space is flush with Peavey amps, an array of effects pedals, a couple of large bongos and a basketball-sized mirror ball.
Jones, lead singer/guitarist Kyler Mello, rhythm guitarist Brent Smith and bassist Mikey Cho are all smiles. The quartet won the second annual Monterey Bay High School Battle of the Bands back in May by a landslide and took home a $500 prize. They also recently graduated from P.G. High.
But that’s not the primary reason they’re wearing eye-to-eye grins: These guys are just happy when they’re playing together and that translates through their music, which they write collectively. And quickly. “When one of us comes up with an idea for a song, everything falls into place very easily,” Mello says.
On Saturday afternoon at Wave Street Studios, Kush will celebrate the release of its new EP Spirit Bear, a four-song tour de force that’s hopefully only a taste of more greatness to come.
At practice, the band runs through the album’s title track opener, an instrumental Mello describes as a “two-minute punch in the face.” The main guitar riff could have been swiped from a Black Sabbath album; it smokes more than Tommy Chong. And despite the song’s brevity, Jones still manages to squeeze in a short-but-sweet John Bonham-inspired drum solo. Without much discussion, they follow with “That One Song,” another tune from their new EP.
Each tone and note on the mostly-instrumental jam – featuring only one verse of vocals, delivered by Mello with part-Morrissey, part-Julian Casablancas zest – fits together tightly like pieces of a puzzle. Cho, whose baseline brings an ’80s Talking Heads vibe, locks eyes with Jones as they keep the vice-tight rhythm. Then Smith introduces a guitar lick that satisfies like David Gilmore’s solo in “Comfortably Numb.”
Kush’s tunes unleash a swarm of vibrant harmonies and complex guitar layers musically wise beyond their years. And when they do it live, Smith says, they aim to flow the tracks together and extend the tunes into epic jams.
When the longtime friends completed high school and began summer break a couple weeks ago, it meant a new chapter in their lives. Though Jones heads off to University of Oregon in the fall – the other three are going to Monterey Peninsula College – the guys have no intention of retiring as Battle of the Bands champs. As the sun begins to set, they silently look at each other as if they’re reminded to savor their time together. “We’re still going to be a band,” Jones says. “We’ll just be taking a break when I’m at school.”
Mello tries to add some reassurance: “It will just be a hiatus, that’s all.”
MOZZO KUSH EP RELEASE PARTY happens 2-4pm Saturday, June 23, at Wave Street Studios, 774 Wave St., Monterey. $5 (includes CD). 655-2010.
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