The Buzz – Cut Loose! (Q&A)
The Buzz deliver a wide variety of pop flavors; Camero-ready classic rock, Byrdsy chime with a Ramones punch, and Beach-Boys- influenced pop-n-roll. Inspired by the original rock-n-roll masters without being retro, the Buzz aim to create quality pop-music for the masses.
Sweet Sweet Music spoke to J., Gregory, Brian, and Steve about the 70’s-era Cheap Trick, the special kind of fellowship that happens at live shows, the remote recording process, and about Anne and Dan.
Q: You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick: Rick’s writing for the 70’s-era Cheap Trick includes all of music’s essential ingredients in one package – power, melody, great guitar riffs, and a mix of witty and poignant lyrics.
Brian Wilson/Beach Boys: No one can match the beauty of Brian’s vocal melodies during his 1964-67 peak. Inventive bass lines and an unparalleled knack for vocal harmony also make Hawthorne’s finest an ideal songwriting partner.
Robert Pollard/Guided by Voices: With Robert Pollard as a co-writer, there is no chance you will encounter writer’s block. Uncle Bob’s clever wordplay, endless vocal hooks, and encyclopedic knowledge of the four P’s of rock (pop, punk, prog & psych) make him an easy choice.
Q: Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?
It’s always exciting to hear how a song takes on a new vibe and attitude when it comes out of the practice space and onto the stage. I think the excitement of playing live inspires us to hear and respond to each differently and it’s fun to hear the results of that, like how a song gets meaner and louder or how certain dynamic shifts or parts are emphasized in new ways. And, of course, it’s always fun to see our friends and play with other bands in the scene.
Hopefully, live music can find its footing again soon. Like lots of other bands, we’ve had to put live shows on hold due to the pandemic. There’s a special kind of fellowship that happens at live shows between the band and the audience and the between the band members themselves. There’s not much that compares to it. Hopefully, we’ll have that back again soon.
Q: What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
The off-the-beaten-track gigs are the best. After having exhausted the indie clubs in the DC/Baltimore area over the course of many years, it’s refreshing to fling yourself into untested waters. Gettysburg, PA is one such place that we’ve since come to call a home away from home. While not known far and wide as a harbor for original music, the Garryowen Irish Pub is an oasis for folks thirsty for whiskey, beer, and live musical acts of all flavors. Anne is a bartender there who books the acts and also plays in a few bands herself. She’s a total rocker.
We’ve gigged there a couple of times, but the show we played last winter was uniquely special. The local act that hosted us featured Anne’s brother Dan on guitar. Dan loomed large in town as a musical totem, and couldn’t have been a friendlier or more welcoming guy. He had a big smile and could shred the ever-living shit out of his Les Paul Jr. The crowd was fun and receptive that night… people even got up to dance, and nothing makes me happier as a performer than that.
After the show, Dan and I sat at the bar and shot the shit about punk rock and skateboarding, the two things nearest and dearest to my heart. We finished out the night with a couple of shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey and said good-bye. I couldn’t wait to play another gig in Gettysburg.
Dan passed away suddenly a couple of weeks later. He left a hole in the musical soul of Gettysburg and beyond. I feel blessed that we got to experience his largesse and his talent one last time that night at the Garryowen. You meet all kinds of folks when playing in a band, but some of them are beyond special. Any band would be lucky to meet an Anne and a Dan while on the road. We never took that for granted.
Rest easy, Dan Gallagher.
Q: How did this record come together?
Because of the pandemic, recording this album was a bit different than those we’ve done in the past. We actually recorded 7 of the 10 songs before COVID hit. We traditionally learn the tunes and work out arrangements in practice, and then record in our drummer Greg’s studio. The key for us is getting to know the tunes well enough that we can get a good performance, but to record the song before it gets stale.
The last three songs written for the album (“Cut Loose!,” “Stuck In A Cloud,” and “Tidal”) were recorded separately by each band member. Greg was able to track his drums to practice recordings for 2 of the 3 songs and send them out for overdubbing, while the third “Tidal,” was built-up from an acoustic demo I sent out to the band. Hopefully, listeners won’t be able to tell the difference! We got comfortable with the remote recording process by recording four cover tunes this spring.
Q: Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
It’s so tough to limit this to 5 tunes! Since this is a power-pop focused blog, I’m going to go with 5 numbers from the genre I’ve been spinning a lot lately.
“Sparky’s Dream” by Teenage Fanclub: This song makes me feel good every time I hear it. A few years ago I took a trip to Scotland, and this tune was playing in the first pub I visited upon arrival. I knew right then my trip to the Fannies’ homeland was going to be awesome.
“The Ballad of El Goodo” by Big Star: When I first heard this one I felt it was a little cheesy, but then that glorious chorus hits! I love Jody Stephens’ drumming – he makes everything so dramatic. A friend and I actually used to play some Big Star as an acoustic duo back in the ’90s in the small town where we grew up – it didn’t go over well.
“Plain Jane” by Donnie Vie: Donnie takes a lot of stick for his former band, Enuff Z’Nuff’s image, but man this guy can write a catchy tune. Impeccable production and great tunes made this album (Beautiful Things) one of my faves of 2019.
“Hackensack” by Fountains of Wayne: This wistful tune was sad enough before Adam Schlesinger’s passing, but I totally lost it when I saw the surviving FoW members perform it during a pandemic relief benefit Livestream. Heartbreaking.
“I Wanna Be With You” by The Raspberries: I have to admit I really only got into the Raspberries after hearing their “Pop Art” live record taped during their 2004 reunion. The extra punch they added live (ala Cheap Trick) made me listen to them in a new way.
The Buzz is:
J. Forté- Vocals, guitar
Gregory Gendron – Drums
Brian Olexy – Guitar
Steve Shook – Bass