Indie rock band Lemuria is on tour, celebrating the tenth anniversary of its debut album, Get Better.
When Lemuria got off the ground in 2004, in Buffalo, New York, hardcore may have dominated the city's music scene, but other genres flourished there.
The members of Lemuria, including singer/guitarist Sheena Ozzella and drummer Alex Kerns, grew up in nearby towns. In high school, they were already traveling to see bigger bands in Buffalo. After high school, Ozella and Kerns moved to the industrial city because it was familiar — and inexpensive.
Kerns had been in hardcore and punk bands in high school, and Ozzella had had a brief stint as the vocalist in a screamo band. By 2004, after having lived in Buffalo for three years, both started learning to play instruments, and their music began to reflect their love of indie/underground bands of the ’90s, like Jawbox (the group has recorded with Jawbox guitarist J Robbins and is set to record some of its new record with Robbins as well), Superchunk and Sebadoh. The fledgling band Lemuria found an unusually supportive local community for its music.
“I feel like a lot of cities have fine lines between every genre,” says Ozzella. “There's a hardcore scene, an indie scene, a folk scene. But I feel like Buffalo had the kind of scene that was so good for first starting a band — and any kind of band you wanted to, because all the bills would have all different kinds of bands on them. Even though most of the bands playing when I first moved there were hardcore bands, they would make show bills that had other kinds of music on them, which is really badass."
It's easy to forget nearly thirteen years later that Lemuria was starting to play in the early years of indie rock. The group embodied multiple styles of music, and along with that came an ethos of inclusiveness; at its shows, any person, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation, seemed welcome.
“[We make] sure no one does dumb stuff at shows,” says Ozella. “Like moshing aggressively. If you can tell people are having a hard time seeing, making room for them. Making sure that no one, obviously, is making dumb comments or saying aggressive stuff toward people at shows. Calling people out, you know. I think it's important to do that. That might be the punk in us.”
For its tours and its shows, Lemuria seeks to book eclectic lineups. Their current performances are informed by their own memories of being young punks in Buffalo's open-minded scene.
“Sometimes you see a band that goes on tours with the same style of music, and it's a trend,” says Ozzella. “I don't want to put anyone down. Do what you want to do. But for longevity's sake, I think that's why we've lasted as long as [we have], and that means something to us. I think that's the cool thing about punk. To me, when I first started going to punk shows, it was, 'Oh, I'm a little weird. I think I'll go hang out with the other kids that are a little bit weird.' I'm 33, and I still search for the weird kids, and the weird kids play all kinds of different music and do all kinds of art. It's a cool way to learn how to be open-minded and respectful of all that stuff.”
Lemuria will play with Cayetana and Mikey Erg at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 4, at the Marquis Theater, 303-487-0111, $13-$15, all ages.
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