If the members of the Denver-based party band called Lovebuzz seem a little too close-knit, blame it on childhood development. "I've been friends with Jason [Schrock] since the fourth grade," explains guitarist/vocalist Brian Hendrick. "And then we met Shane [Morrison] after Jason and I got in a fight with him. Shane was picking on Jason's twin sister or something, so we became enemies. That was sixth grade."
Following the resolution of this initial school-yard confrontation, Hendrick, bassist Schrock and drummer Morrison found that they made a harmonious combination. They now have been playing music together for nearly ten years and are gaining a higher local profile thanks to their tight, punk-influenced style and frenetic shows.
Although the players are hard-pressed to characterize their own sound, Lovebuzz fans--described by Hendrick as "just a circle of friends"--don't seem to mind. That's because they're too busy being physically moved by the pace of the average Lovebuzz tune--a pace driven by a searing balance between power chords, staccato percussion and Hendrick's consistent, whiny growl. This sound combines the approach of many a bygone indie band with neopsychedelia a la Love and Rockets. And because each instrumentalist has an intense onstage presence, the group is best experienced in person. "We're definitely a live band," Hendrick declares. "Even when we go into the studio, we try to not do anything that we couldn't pull off live. That's where we got our start and that's where people give us the most feedback."
Indeed, the band often pushes crowds to the brink of chaos. A typical example occurred recently at the Mercury Cafe, when a KTCL/ MusicLink showcase nearly got out of hand. "These jerks showed up pumped up with one mission: to destroy people," Hendrick recounts. "People butted heads, some bad things happened and we had to stop the show. We don't want that, and our friends don't want that. I mean, some of our covers are a little fast, so people might like to have a little fun and bump around--but not destroy."
While speed is the band's touchstone, the threesome took its own sweet time settling on a permanent lineup. The group actually began as a quartet that featured a revolving roster of vocalists. Morrison says that of the approximately ten singers to move in and out of the act, his favorite "sounded like a death-rockin' Gomer Pyle trying to sing `Bela Lugosi's Dead' like Jim Nabors. He worked out for about a year because we were young and he was our ride, but we just had to kick him out."
Once Hendrick agreed to take on the vocal duties ("My mother knew it would be him all along," Morrison says), the band began to shed a few of its influences--namely its gothic roots. You'd hardly know it from listening to the group now, but one of its many former names was Dark Entries, a nod to a song by Bauhaus. Its latest moniker is more appropriate: "Lovebuzz" is the title of an early Nirvana tune.
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Hendrick hopes that the Nirvana connection will not predispose the uninitiated into dismissing Lovebuzz as just another grunge band. "We play many different things," he claims. "We could play a David Bowie song and then a punk-rock song." He adds that its current appellation was chosen as much for expediency as homage: "We were Mentholated Gob before, but people had a hard time remembering the name, so we thought Lovebuzz would be easy enough to remember."
If Lovebuzz's handle doesn't hook you, its recordings should. Following a three-song demo completed last summer, the band recently completed a pair of slick videos that have been receiving airplay around town, as well as its second tape. The Brain, a cassette EP, consists of six original tracks that spotlight two different sides of the group. The first three numbers are the punkiest: The frantic "Discourse" and the raw "1970er," especially, are perfect mosh-pit material. The flip side is equally harsh, but the cuts sport a more psychedelic sensibility; well-timed pauses provide momentary respites from Lovebuzz's thrashy assault.
To Morrison, these packages exemplify the band's high-energy, low-key method of making music. "We're all about fun," he points out. "You know, come have a beer, a puff, or whatever you want. And dance.