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While later achieving a sort of local crossover success by appealing to mainstream rock audiences, Muse also brought a different crowd to rock establishments like the Stephen Talkhouse, where the band played the club's only eighteen-and-over show with up-and-coming New Orleans singer-songwriter James Hall (formerly of Mary My Hope) this past winter.
"Even after we broke into the scene our shows were populated by club people," recalls Isaac. "It was a different approach to how most local bands do it, and it's what a lot of local bands are doing now."
After the departure of their original drummer, the remaining members of Muse immediately went to work writing new material, spending the next seven months performing with fill-ins. Meanwhile, Thorngren started calling manager Jose Pulido and showing up at the band's shows.
"It was very hard for us [to find a drummer] because we were looking for a certain vibe," says Isaac. "Before each show we'd have to teach a new drummer all the songs. That's why it took us so long to give him a chance." Muse thought they'd never find a drummer in Miami, and Thorngren thought he'd never find a band.
Then fate stepped in. A drummer scheduled to play a show with them canceled. Pulido was cleaning his apartment and Thorngren's number just popped out of nowhere. When they finally hooked up, Thorngren learned the band's songs in one weekend and, they say, impressed the hell out of them. They cemented the deal by taking him to see Forrest Gump.
"I had gone through hell in other bands, kept stumbling into situations where nobody really cared about anybody, so I couldn't believe these guys were for real," Thorngren says.
Wary of overexposure, Muse has always played only about a show per month. The band has also taken the reins in terms of organizing shows, as when they put together a concert featuring Muse as headliner and three of the area's most promising acts -- Sixo, Diane Ward, and Orgasmic Bliss -- at the Cameo Theater.
"They would like to play every night if they could, and if we lived in a place like Atlanta, we could, traveling to different places [in the region]," says Pulido, who seems more like a band member than a manager. "In Miami you can't do that. We want each show to have a different vibe, to let people take something different away with them each time."
Guitarist Gerson adds: "It doesn't matter what band it is, if they play out every week, people are going to get tired of it. If you tour and only play someplace once a year, then it's exciting."
"It hasn't been on purpose, but we've always been underground," says Isaac. "We've never gotten recognized for anything, and we were totally ignored by everyone on the scene. We've got lots of friends here, but we've always done things so differently."
Among those friends the band considers themselves lucky to count are singer-songwriters Diane Ward (Isaac sang on Ward's Band-Aidesque single, "The Gift") and Matt Sabatella, and rockers Nuclear Valdez.
And, Isaac adds, fans have always supported them.
"In our shows, the crowd is very important; we send them energy and we need their energy to come back," says Isaac. "When you're on stage, that's the moment when you're most alive, and you feel everything times a million."
Isaac has been recovering from a back injury, and with the departure of their former bassist, keyboardist Ari Eisenstein has been learning to play his new position. "I really see us as a band now," muses Isaac. "It's not just the songs A they were always good A but now I think whatever we play sounds amazing, as long as we play it together."
Muse's next show is planned for July 15 at the Cameo, where fans can look forward to seeing a new and improved Muse, featuring heavier, crunchier guitars, a tightened rhythm section, and restructured versions of old songs.
The band also looks forward to touring, writing new songs, and recording again with Eric Thorngren, who says he can't wait to visit South Florida to work with the band on another album, preferably for a major-label release.
"I don't know what's coming out of Florida, but it seems like this is one band that should, son or not my son," the famed producer says. Of course, Dad has high compliments for his offspring and the band he plays in: "Brett has a lot of fire; I'm happy for him because it's hard to find such talented people to play with. And Paul's voice is so good because it's vulnerable and gets the story across. They have the same vision, and the way they are going, their potential is going to be realized.