Lemuria Talks About Getting Your "Heart Torn Out," Hank Williams-Style
Lemuria is an indie-pop-punk three-piece with roots in Buffalo, New York.
Sometimes, we need a little fast-paced pop-punk in our lives -- even if we're going through a tragic, emo breakup.
Buffalo three-piece Lemuria boasts a melodious, sing-along discography (like Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk before them) fashioned from the sweet soprano of winsome frontwoman Sheena Ozzella, the sharp croon of drummer/vocalist Alex Kerns, and the quavering bass of Max Gregor.
But the band's fundamental themes of heartache and longing (often at the hands of long-distance relationships gone sour) imprint a noisy, unvarnished punk amid sweet indie-pop sentiment. And their versatility has garnered them a gamut of fans. At a Lemuria show, you may witness a crust punk bum-rush the stage arm in arm with a straightedge hardcore kid while chanting unassuming lyrics like "I want my hands in your hair" or "Maybe I should wear lipstick too." Lemuria just has a true crossover appeal.
Fresh off releasing their third album, The Distance Is So Big, Ozzella and Gregor took a break from their summer tour to talk to New Times about their affinity for Florida (the Sunshine State is one of their favorite places to play, guys!), punk teamwork, and their journey with traditional hardcore label Bridge Nine Records.
Lemuria has a special tie to Florida -- you play Gainseville's punk staple The Fest every year. What do you like about the punk scene in Florida?
Sheena Ozzella: We've made a lot of good friends in Florida. Every time we're there, it's a lot of hanging out. Not as much swimming as I would like, so maybe we can change that on this trip. Tampa is awesome, I really like Tallahassee a bunch, [and] The Fest is awesome. I can't imagine not being there every year.
Max Gregor: Yeah, The Fest is pretty much the one reliable show every year we can look forward to and know that it's going to be, if not the best, one of the top five best shows that we'll play all year. Personally, I have a connection to Florida. I was raised in Cape Coral. So I really enjoy the punk scene in Florida, because I feel like I have a connection to seeing the development of it. I know a lot of people from when I was younger, and to see where they are now [is cool].
I got hooked on you guys after listening to your first album, Get Better. Your music works because the songs are catchy and upbeat, but the themes are often sad. Do you think people would rather listen to happy-sounding music more than a ballad when they're down?
Sheena: When we write, we separate the music from the lyrics before we put them together. If you were thinking about writing a sad song, you wouldn't necessarily think to write a pop-y one first, but I feel like each one of our albums has kind of been a theme for something. Alex writes a lot of the lyrics for the songs, and he can write forever, so I'm sure we will have albums in the future that will have completely different themes than anything that we've written before.
Max: We really all value music that brings together a mixture of happy and sad and funny and serious and kind of compiles all those things in one record. Because no emotion is so straightforward that it's entirely one thing; no life experience just brings one emotion to the table. I like to think of country music, and think of Hank Williams singing about having his heart torn out and being an alcoholic and a lot of really serious themes. But if you ever see pictures of him or see videos of him singing those songs, he has a giant smile on his face.
So would you say whatever you guys are feeling is the driving force for Lemuria's sound?
Sheena: It's three people going through three different things at the same time. And we spend enough time together to make it work. We're all so close, that we can get behind whatever any of us are saying in our lyrics.