Jeb Bows, the seventeen-year-old guitarist in the Longmont-based band called Linus, doesn't care for the term "Generation X"--and with good reason. Bows and his bandmates--vocalist Dan Parris, guitarist Andy Rothbard, bassist Jason Barlowe and drummer Mike M.--hardly fit the blank-eyed, TV-worshiping profile some observers use to describe the under-25 crowd. In fact, today's reigning baby boomers probably could learn a thing or two from these unexpectedly sage youths. "It's hard for me to look at myself as part of this big `generation' thing," Bows explains, "because it really comes down to what's personal, what you do to make a difference and how you want to do it."
Rothbard, eighteen, agrees: "In the first place, any mass is just going to boil down to the individual. I think you have to re-evaluate yourself before you try to contribute to the masses. If you're just instantly clumped with a bunch of other people, it makes it easy to say, `Well, we're Generation X, so fuck you,' and you just sit on your ass. Instead, you should be accepting individual responsibility."
The members of Linus are equally dismissive of attempts to categorize their music as punk rock. "I'd just call [what we do] music," Rothbard says. "It's a complete experience--and we don't like pigeonholes. I think we've all kind of gravitated toward one another because of the pigeonholes in our lives. And I think punk, or whatever you want to call it, is just another pigeonhole."
Indeed, the term "punk" hardly does justice to Linus's dynamic, guitar-driven sound: The three tunes on the group's new, self-titled EP are as melodic as they are direct. From the engrossing, ultraheavy riffs of "Anaconda" and "Chainlink Blanket" to the jangly interludes of "Nickel Wound," the band's emotionally charged style uses punk as a jumping-off point that leads to a more varied sound.
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According to Parris, the group's chief lyricist, these different approaches reflect his changing emotional states. "My only releases are music and poetry," he claims. "I wouldn't call what I write lyrics. I think they're more like poetry, because they can change from one show to the next. I usually have a basic theme that each song goes along with--and basic lyrics--but then I go more into the moment, and with whatever comes out. Sometimes it can end up being a lot different."
Parris's energized moods reveal themselves in all their glory when Linus performs live. The charismatic singer, who sports a shaved scalp and a pair of oversize horn-rimmed spectacles, stomps, jerks and prowls across the boards with reckless abandon. Watching him on stage, you get the feeling that he might explode at any given moment. Parris confirms that he sees performances as a release: "Sometimes you walk through your world and you feel so alienated. You get up there on stage, and all the shit that's inside you just blows out. It's not really a negative thing. It's just expression." He makes a gesture that suggests Jackson Pollock throwing paint on a canvas as he adds, "Like when a painter goes--pow!"
When not in the spotlight, Parris and company exude a calm air of poise and self-awareness--characteristics that aren't generally associated with musicians their age. When the band isn't performing, Rothbard can usually be found buried in the works of Carl Jung, while Parris spends a good portion of his free time practicing Zen meditation in the hope of expanding his mind. As for Bows, he says, "I just [find satisfaction] in what I can create, or finding new things I can do or feel. You know, just realizing that I'm here for a reason and trying to make the best of what I can do every day. I think that's what gives me most of my inspiration."
In his search for spiritual enlightenment, Rothbard even manages to find metaphysical overtones in his band's name, which was lifted from the blanket-toting lad in the "Peanuts" comic strip. "When Linus first appeared in `Peanuts,' he was just a little baby," he notes. "And then he grew up to be the iconoclast of the strip. If that's going to be the allegory of our existence, then I think I'd be pretty happy.