Band of the Week: Smoke Screen


Chemist (vocals) and Mooke (vocals)


Chemist (Thomas Sheridan) and Mooke (Rodney Mynatt), the duo that formed the local hip-hop group Smoke Screen some 10 years ago, were friends long before. "We grew up together," says Sheridan. "Mooke's uncle's band the Slick got a show at Peabody's and asked us to play a show with him. We did the show and met a friend who booked us for a string of shows. We did something like 30 shows that year. We just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity." Since then, the group shared the stage with acts such as Kid Cudi, Wale and People Under the Stairs. In 2007, the band released Self-Educated Learning Process, and the group dropped a few "free projects" before releasing the full-length follow-up, Imagination Beyond Illustration in 2010 and Ice Cold Water in 2012.


The two rappers have held down a number of side projects during Smoke Screen's 10-year run. A couple of years ago, the group collaborated with the solo artist Ghost Noises to form Smoke Noises. "That was something we started on the side, and it turned out to be a success, and we did a few East Coast tours together," says Sheridan. "The group ran for three years."


At the beginning of the year, Sheridan and Mynatt began assembling tracks for a studio release. "Everything kind of fell together," says Mynatt. "We assembled all the songs and found producers we wanted to work with too." Producers include Connor Musarra, Z. Quiz, Broken Keys and Uno Wa, a producer from Paris. The band recorded the album, Return to the Sun, at its own studio and outsourced the mixing. Directed by Turnstyle Films, the music video for the single "Breakbeats and Bass" features footage from throughout the past decade spliced with current-day shots of the group. The album kicks off with "Eternal Flame," a tune that features percolating synths and rattling bass beats as Sheridan and Mynatt deliver rapid-fire raps. Since the release party at the Grog Shop comes as the band enters its 10th year, the group plans to invite special guests to the show to help it celebrate the anniversary. "I think we were really familiar with each other before we even got started," says Mynatt when asked about what's led to the longevity. "We also have a certain camaraderie and the ability compromise."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Smoke Screen performs with Mourning [A] BLKstar, Archie Green and DJ ESO at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, at the Grog Shop.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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