Music News

Young'uns No More: Pink Fuzz Keeps Hard Rock Alive in Denver

Lost Lake hosts Boulder natives Pink Fuzz on Friday, February 21.
Lost Lake hosts Boulder natives Pink Fuzz on Friday, February 21. Hannah Thurston

Boulder native LuLu Demitro and her brother John first formed a hard-rock band together as teenagers, calling it Branded Bandits and enlisting a former Foothills Elementary classmate, phenom Forrest Raup, on drums. After parting ways with Raup and making their way Spinal Tap-style through other drummers, the Demitro siblings (now 25 and 27) reunited with young Raup a few years ago, and Pink Fuzz, as the group is now known, was born.

John — who also plays in the Denver rock-and-roll band the Velveteers with another Demitro, their younger sister, Demi — plays guitar and sings in Pink Fuzz, while LuLu sings and plays bass. Pink Fuzz’s blazing debut album, Speed Demon, was released in 2018 to glowing reviews from lovers of the hard stuff. However, John and Lulu’s songwriting, aided by the production and engineering of Todd Divel at Silo Sound, is more complex and infatuating than glitzy L.A. hard rock and carries no trace of sludge/stoner metal.

Friday, February 21, at Lost Lake, Pink Fuzz — which just released a searing EP called Vitals that was also produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Divel — will open for the all-female Australian band Stonefield. Already a grizzled veteran of the road, LuLu spoke with me by phone from Pink Fuzz’s tour van on the way to a recent gig in Crested Butte.

Westword: Pink Fuzz is just a few years old, but some folks might remember seeing you as the Branded Bandits before you were maybe even old enough to vote.

LuLu Demitro: We were just young'uns. We’ve been around for a long time. We’ve been in bands in Colorado since…I mean, John’s been playing in bands in Colorado since he was, like, sixteen, and me when I was eighteen.

When Nate [Cook], Jesse [Parmet] and I were starting the Yawpers at the No Name Bar in Boulder back in 2011, I remember you all being around.

Yeah, we were. We were super-young. We had just started when you guys were playing the No Name, and we had to watch from outside, because we weren’t old enough to get in.

You’re all still young and such sweet people. Where do you find that edge to make this heavy music?

I think that it’s just the music that we like, and that’s how we like to express ourselves. All of us have a pretty big sense of humor, especially when all three of us are together. I guess it’s just the music that we like and the music we listen to and grew up listening to, and it just feels best to express ourselves in that way.

I definitely hear the obvious influences, like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Thee Oh Sees, but am I wrong to say that there’s some early-’90s rock in there, too? Alice in Chains?

Yeah, totally. I think John is definitely inspired by them, and really, we draw from so many different genres. We always talk about how diverse our playlists are when we’re in the van. But, yeah, I mean, Smashing Pumpkins, definitely. T. Rex as well. We pull from a lot of places and listen to a lot of different types of music.

Do you feel like heavy music has a good audience in Denver and Boulder, or is it tough?

It definitely feels like not as much in Boulder. We never really were able to find that niche in Boulder. It was happening there for a while, but it didn’t really take off. Denver, a little bit more, but still I wouldn’t say that it’s Denver’s strongest music scene.

For people who love your music, it’s great to get to see Pink Fuzz somewhere tiny like Lost Lake, but do you ever think of moving somewhere that might embrace your kind of music more, like Austin?

Yeah, we’ve thought about that before. Every time we go to Austin, we say, “Man, it’d be cool to live here, or somewhere like Nashville.” Hard rock is just a much bigger part of their scene, and they have a lot more bands that are coming up and playing that kind of music. But I think one of the reasons we like playing somewhere like Denver is that there aren’t tons of bands that play hard rock, and we feel like we can hold our own in that place here. And we’ve toured all those places fairly consistently, so we get to have a taste of that and still live in our home town.

You've come full circle with Forrest on drums again.

Yeah, we’ve had lineup changes, but it’s just gone back to Forrest. Forrest was our original drummer. We were all born at the same hospital and grew up just a couple blocks away from each other. We’ve had about three different drummers in between Forrest the first time and Forrest now. Drummers are hard to find and hard to keep.

It’s maybe not that hard to find a drummer, but it’s hard to find a good one. Forrest can play anything. What’s it like to play with someone who’s so reliable musically?

It’s great. When we started this band, I learned to play bass for this band. So I learned how to play bass with Forrest as our drummer, which I think has been a pretty incredible experience, because it feels like he’s been as good as he is for as long as I’ve known him. I mean, he is really creative. He’s a big part of the creative process. He’s a great musician all around, not just on the drums.

It seems like drummers are either very well trained but have no idea how to rock, or they have the right kind of energy but aren’t technically sound. How does Forrest have both? How did that happen?

I don’t know! I have no idea how he has both of those things, but I think that you’re right-on about that — sometimes if you’re too well trained, it’s hard for you to really feel or be raw. I don’t know how Forrest got that, why he’s so special.

How hard is it to play bass and sing these songs?

It’s definitely a challenge. I’m lucky John is a bass player as well, and he’s able to help me figure out what I need to know, if I’m having struggles. I’ve been playing bass in our band for a while, and you just get used to doing two things at once and having your brain on two separate tracks, kind of on autopilot.

How do you pull off all this stuff live, as a trio, doing all those guitar solos without losing the fuzz?

We try to keep everything really similar to the way it sounds when we play it live. The way that we recorded it was not with tons of overdubs; we didn’t go back and do too much to it, so it is really close to how we play everything live. I have an eight-string bass that I play, and that really helps give it a lot of body when John takes his solos or when he’s just got those lead lines. That really helps fill out that sound. When we play live, that’s really doing the trick when John goes off and we need to hold it down as a three-piece.

Do you feel like the Denver scene is supportive of female musicians?

Yeah, I would say so. It seems like there are a lot of women-fronted bands happening in the music scene now. I would say I don’t feel unsupported by the scene. It seems like there are a lot of women coming out and leading their own projects, making it known that they’re there and they’re talented.

Growing up, did you see any female-fronted bands that made you say, “Hey, I want to do that!”

Yeah, definitely. I would say when I was first learning I remember watching Grace Potter play. Seeing her play and sing was really inspiring for me. She’s really the only one that sticks out for me, looking back.

What are your goals with this band?

Our goals have always been just to record — because we love recording — as much as we can, and tour, as well. We love touring; we love going out and seeing our friends and playing DIY venues and being a part of these communities. It feels special; we feel lucky to have all these people all over the country who we can go and see, and they support us. We’ll continue recording, continue touring. I think that we’re planning to be pretty busy starting in March and into the summer, playing some festivals and doing some big summer tours.

What do you all do to pay the rent when you’re home?

Honestly, whatever we can. It depends on the month you’re asking. We all do whatever we can.

That’s how it is unless you’re one of those silver-spoon bands.

Even though we’re from Boulder, one might think that, but no. Unfortunately not [laughs].

Stonefield, with Pink Fuzz and Ssiigghh play at 9 p.m. Friday, February 21, at Lost Lake, 3602 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $15-$17 and available at the Lost Lake website.

Listen to Pink Fuzz and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.
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Pittsburgh native Adam Perry is a cyclist, drummer and University of Pittsburgh and Naropa University alum. He lives in Boulder and has written for Westword since 2008.
Contact: Adam Perry