Boulder-born Denver-based trio Pink Fuzz got its moniker from a friend, who found the band’s fuzzy sound analogous to the pink-hued, 8-millimeter grindhouse movies of the 1960s, trashy flicks such as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! The connection is immortalized in the band's "Enough" video.
“What did it for me is listening to a lot of fuzz-heavy records,” adds guitarist John Demitro. “The Stooges, definitely Raw Power. There’s fuzz all over that record. Actually seeing Queens of the Stone Age at Red Rocks...that blew my mind. They had their sound so dialed, it didn’t matter where you were — I could hear the fuzz.”
The band, which will be at the Larimer Lounge during the Westword Music Showcase on Friday, September 9, also offers this description of its style: “Your favorite track off Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness meets QOTSA’s Era Vulgaris."
“In the last couple of years, we’ve really kind of dialed in what we like for our sound and what works well,” says Demitro. “We’ve recently coined the term ‘High Speed Desert Rock’ because that’s kind of what we feel our music represents.”
Fuzz is a wild yet beautiful sound that has permeated rock-and-roll guitar and bass for most of its existence. It came from artful happy accidents: Link Wray stuck a pencil through his amplifier speaker in the 1950s to make his tone more gritty, and a malfunctioning mixing console channel at a 1961 Marty Robbins recording session led directly to the Maestro Fuzz Tone FZ-1, the first widely marketed fuzz pedal. Now an absolute galaxy of fuzz effects exists, and even if you don’t know what it is exactly, odds are you love a song that uses fuzz.
Demitro is joined in Pink Fuzz by his sister LuLu Demitro on bass and their childhood friend Forrest Raup on drums. The band evokes other fuzz-laden groups such as Green River or Mudhoney, but its harmonized, occasionally ethereal vocals tend to hover angelically above its rough, heavy instrumentals.
Pink Fuzz walks a well-traveled rock and roll road, but the band’s sound manages to defy easy classification. “We’re pretty proud of that,” Demitro says. “We don’t want to just be pigeonholed as stoner rock or party rock, garage rock, psyche rock.”
Having its roots in Boulder — a town more known for jam bands and country-rock outfits than detuned fuzz rock — also make the band a bit of an outlier. “We all grew up in Boulder, and that forced us to not want to be like anything in Boulder,” Demitro recalls. “We all love rock and roll, and there wasn’t a huge rock scene. There was literally nothing when we started a band.”
That dearth of a Boulder rock scene is what led Pink Fuzz to seek out richer musical pastures in Denver, and the band has always focused heavily on touring, most recently hitting the road with Texas duo Black Pistol Fire. In Colorado, the band has opened for the Oh Sees, LA Witch, Reignwolf, Stonefield, Slothrust, Red Fang, Starcrawler, Warbly Jets and Heart.
Its sound seems to be popular among Midwest audiences and in Great Plains states such as Kansas, where the band recently played a show in Manhattan. The bandmates say they try to hit their preferred markets at least twice a year, and they’ve found a warm reception in Boise and the Pacific Northwest.
“We also go down to Texas quite a bit,” Demitro says. “Texas has a really good rock scene. We’ve been well received there.”
Pink Fuzz released its first full-length album, Speed Demon, in 2018; the EP Vitals in 2019; and a live record, Live at Silo Sound,in 2021, as well as a handful of singles. Earlier this year, the band released a two-song EP, Fading Away, which offers a mellower, more pensive sound. “Jake’s Turn” is a reworking of a previously released track that Demitro recorded as a tribute to a friend who died unexpectedly.
“The backwards guitar at the end is actually him,” he says. “Luckily, I had some isolated solos of his and we were able to manipulate it to go into our songs. It was a cool collaboration and tribute to him.”
The band is currently working on demos for a full-length record that will fully capture its “high speed desert rock” sound. So far, the album sounds nothing like the two songs on Fading Away and marks a stylistic progression for the band.
“All our new stuff is really aggressive and fast,” Demitro says. “It’s just super fuzzed out, but we like to change it up every now and then.”
Raup chimes in that the band’s new music will make a person want to drive fast.
“It’s our most mosh worthy material that we’ve written,” he says. “It showcases our talents a little bit more. Something has clicked that hadn’t before.”
The Westword Music Showcase returns to RiNo on Friday, September 9, with free performances by dozens of local bands at nine venues in the area; Pink Fuzz plays the Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer Street, at 12:20 a.m. on Saturday, September 10. At noon that day, more local bands will join national headliners the Flaming Lips, Saint Motel, Cannons and the Main Squeeze at three stages at the Mission Ballroom Outdoors; tickets are $55-$85. Get more information at westwordshowcase.com. Check out Pink Fuzz on Spotify.
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