In Northeast Florida, the young punks are BLURG. They won’t grow up and play by the rules. The rules say ambitious folks shooting for success in the music industry must ditch their instruments for voice lessons and dance classes. They must head to towns like Orlando, Nashville and Hollywood to join a girl or boy band and appear on some reality television show or another. Out of this primordial sewer emerged amphibian refuse like One Direction and the Pussycat Dolls. Band names tend toward clever word-number associations or cheap titillation. They produce pretty pictures and sexy videos while lacking even an ounce of musical talent or a scintilla of artistic merit. If the performers look good on video, the record contracts flow.
BLURG didn’t get that memo. The Jacksonville-based trio just plays music and dares to be stupid. Its members are as serious about making good music as they are determined to not take themselves too seriously.
Singer/songwriter Alex Blurg told Folio Weekly, “A lot of our songs are just about not so serious stuff, so I think, overall, people should check us out if they wanna listen to something they can have fun with that’ll take them away from reality!”
Alex was raised on a healthy diet of punk music. “The music spoke to me,” he said, “since I didn’t want to listen to what the kids in school were listening to.” He was inspired by Johnny Thunders’ guitar playing, both as a member of The New York Dolls and a solo act with The Heartbreakers. Alex is also into Black Flag, the Queers and The Ramones.
The band’s drummer, Jayson, was exposed to great rock and jazz percussionists early on. He heard John Bonham, Neil Peart and Buddy Rich, but after he experienced “I Want to Be Sedated,” he was a slave to the groove of punk music.
When everyone and everything seem to be in a race to the bottom, the lowest common denominator, many expected (and some predicted) a resurgence of punk music. If the election of Ronald Reagan fueled the punk explosion of the 1980s, maybe the election of Trump would do the same.
The anticipated bang of a punk-music revival has materialized as little more than a whimper. Yet this is not the way the world will end, at least if BLURG has anything to say about it. They decided to pick up instruments and prove music is not dead yet. The band has carved out its own sound in the studio and on stage. BLURG’s music keys off the drumming of Jayson, the youngest member of the squad. Only a high-school junior, his relentless assault on the trap includes rapid-fire beats and blinding fills. His unlimited energy and velocity eclipses anything Tommy or Marky Ramone ever cooked up.
The setup is standard issue—guitar, bass and drums—but BLURG uses these three instruments to generate atomic-powered intensity on stage and in the pit. The fans in the band’s loyal Blurgosphere attend live shows across Northeast Florida and have been known to grab the microphone to bark out a song or two with the trio. In an age of tightly choreographed live performances, their fans’ enthusiasm and BLURG’s ability to roll with the onstage chaos add a distinct edge to the live performances.
On stage, Alex Blurg’s Gibson SG guitar rests between his thighs and knees. Most of his strumming takes place on the neck of his guitar as he fires a progression of power chords through his Marshall cabinet. This low positioning works well—the microphone is often closer to his waist than his neck.
The band’s EP, Poser, is taut, fast and packed with plenty of distorted guitars, thick choruses and humor. Their studio work is as tight and scripted as their live shows are random and improvised. They sing about zombie girlfriends, boredom and mall cops.
Zombie girlfriends? Yes. “My Girlfriend Is Undead” is the story of a graveyard romance. It sounds like it’s getting serious or at least beyond physical: “I don’t want her to ever change / But now she just wants my brains.” The chorus follows: “My girlfriend is undead / Now I don’t know what to do / My girlfriend is undead / When should I break the news?” Unfortunately, for Alex the undead tend to be aggressive recruiters with rapacious appetites.
Although the guys are young, they’ve been working together for years and have whipped up 30 original tunes. Punk veteran Joe Queer mentors the band and records them at his Scabby Road Studio in Atlanta. In addition to Poser, BLURG has a new 12-song recording, featuring five tunes from the demo, Maximum Dumbassery. (Highlights include “I Have to Ride the Shortbus,” “Outcast” and “Mall Cop.”) The set should be released on CD and possibly on vinyl by January.