Westword Music Showcase

Why Reno Divorce Thrives in Denver, Through the Scene's Ups and Downs

Denver band Reno Divorce has toured the world and released a lot of music in the past decade and a half, all while staying firmly rooted in the Mile High City — a place that founding member, vocalist and guitarist Brent Loveday didn’t even realize had a music scene before he moved here from Florida. Once he settled here — he’d come for family-related reasons — he was pleasantly surprised to find a musical climate ripe for the band he’d started building several years earlier in Orlando.“I had a total misconception of what Denver was; I thought it was an industrial town, like Cincinnati. I didn’t realize that Denver was, like, the Switzerland of the U.S.,” Loveday says with a laugh.

Back in the early 2000s, when a version of Reno Divorce was just starting up in Colorado, there was an innocence to the scene, Loveday says. Denver was in its own little world. It was isolated, but in a good way. “There were no expectations of actually making a living playing music. It was just about having a great time,” he remembers. “Now it seems to be more competitive.”

Loveday cites Undead in Denver, a 2004 compilation featuring dozens of punk bands active in the city’s little bubble, like King Rat, Boldtype and Belfast Carbomb. When it was released, the album was an excellent reflection of a scene in top form. In fact, says Loveday, at one point Denver’s devoted collection of active punk acts rivaled those of more well-known hubs like Orange County and Washington, D.C. More than a decade later, Reno Divorce stands out as one of the few local acts from those days that are still going.

“I don’t want to sound like an old guy, but it kind of seems like it’s had its moment, particularly in the punk scene,” Loveday says. “We’re just waiting for it to come around again.” That said, Reno Divorce is hardly sitting idle: Loveday, bassist Johnny Crow and drummer Jason LaBella are currently playing sold-out shows and working on brand-new songs.

“It’s not a lavish lifestyle, but I don’t have a day job,” notes Loveday. “I’m really grateful for the place I’ve carved out for myself.

“We’ve gone through a serious overhaul in the band within the last year,” he adds. “We’re a three-piece now, which is kind of what we were back in the old days. We’re experiencing a renaissance as Reno Divorce, and it feels great. We’re writing lots of new material.”

And as closely aligned as the band has been with the punk sound and aesthetic in Denver over the years, Loveday says the designation is not totally accurate.
“We’ve always been labeled a punk band, but we’ve never consciously tried to be a punk band. I think we’re a rock-and-roll band; we kind of fall in between the cracks.”

To be clear, Reno Divorce isn’t planning any sort of stylistic 180. The band will remain true to the sound that first garnered so many fans in Denver, long before anyone else was paying attention to the cowtown’s scene.

“I’m not going to abandon punk rock — it’s always going to be an influence,” says Loveday. “But I think I’m ready to embrace being a rock band and try new stuff.”

Reno Divorce plays at 4:55 p.m. at Bannock Street Garage during this Saturday's Westword Music Showcase.