Oakland’s Puzzled

Quinn Moreland

Puzzled are an indiepop/twee/punk/what-have-you band out of Oakland, California. They ooze the brand of childish, primitive, genuine tunes that evoke comparisons to a 21st century Beat Happening, if Calvin and the gang wrote songs about video games. Lyrically, Puzzled sing about the mundane activities that compose our daily lives, as well as the more complex relationships we experience.

For example, “Shoe Song” deals with the confusion regarding a lost shoe while “My Best Friends In Jail” is about that exact unfortunate scenario. Furthermore, Puzzled use their songs to profess an unabashed sensitivity; in “Romantic Retort”, they sing “I came over, you walked down the stairs by yourself, I was taken, I don’t normally use that word.” The words are honest and straightforward, quite the opposite of what you may expect from a band called Puzzled.

Check out Puzzled’s self-titled LP on bandcamp and stream it below:

Since there is very little information about Puzzled, we asked them a few questions!

Introduce yourselves!

Stephen Taylor: Hi, I’m Stephen and I play guitar and sing.

Mike Morales: Hi I’m Mike Morales. I play bass and sing like a muppet here and there.

Elyse Schrock: My name is Elyse. I play drums and sing.

How long have you guys known each other and how did Puzzled start?

S: I met Elyse at a show almost two years ago. I told her that I had a crush on her but she said we should just be friends. So I asked if she wanted to jam and she agreed, that jam was to become Puzzled. I met Mike at various shows around the same time but we didn’t bond until one night when he came over to play Street Fighter 2. He picked my boy Ken, step one, he beat me (I’d like to say I’m pretty good), step 2. So he had to be in the band after that.

E: I have known Mike for a couple years from playing in bands around town. Stephen and I met about a year and half ago, which was shortly before the birth of Puzzled. Stephen had been saving up these pop songs for years and asked me to drum. We were lucky enough to pull in the busy bee groove master Mike Morales on bass and haven’t looked back since.

A few of of your songs reference video games. What are your favorite consoles and games?

S: Definitely Super Nintendo. When it’s a group we get the N64 going. I don’t play that much nowadays, but my favorite games are Final Fantasy 3, any Zelda, Castlevania, any Mario game of course. Gradius 3 is legit too.

M: Super NES all the way. Stephen’s the big gamer. I really only play Street Fighter. It’s the only thing I’m good at and the only reason Stephen and I are friends.

E: My favorite console is Super Nintendo. My personal faves game wise are Donkey Kong Country and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. I love me some ClayFighter, too.

You have a song called “Broken Ankle”. Care to elaborate how this happened?

S: My old band prcsrs played our worst show ever and mike happened to be there. Mike explains it best, needless to say, I did carry him to the car (think of that scene in “the bodyguard”) and kissed him goodbye, it was beautiful. The next three months consisted of me wheeling him around Oakland or SF, drinking gin, and criticizing wheelchair accessibility of various storefronts, that was a lot of fun (for me). We played our best/worst show with him wasted on gin in his wheelchair. He didn’t even play half the show, just sat there on stage, it was great. That sums up the song pretty well.

M: I was at a show that Stephen was playing and was trampled under a dog-pile of drunk kids. Some ass managed to put all their weight on my right ankle while trying to get back up. I was immobile for almost three months and went bat shit crazy. That’s what that song’s about.

E: Mike was posted up for awhile and now has some nice metal pieces in his ankle and a song in his heart. Always.

What’s up next for Puzzled? Are any of you in other bands?

E: We are about to release a tape and make our first video for our first single “Had to Know Your Name”. We hope to record more in the next few months and put out a record, go on tour and continue to croon.

S: Elyse said it all, I’m really excited, I have just about half of the next album buzzing around in my head. I am in another group called yogurt brain, I play drums in that one. It’s a real hoot, we’ll be in the NYC area playing shows during the first week of October, let’s party!

M: We are releasing an album which ever way we can. We all keep busy with other projects as well. I’m also in Baus and G. Green. All bands have came out with good stuff this year. There’s nothing but good stuff coming out of the Oakland DIY punk scene these days.

E: I play in two other bands at the moment: Fleece and Legs.

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