Words by Carmen Macri
No, they’re not experts on the creepy crawlers hiding inside your mattress. (Well, they might be, I don’t know.) They’re just four Florida boys trying to make it bug, I mean big.
Jacksonville is known for birthing some of the biggest names in the music industry: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Limp Bizkit, The Allman Brothers Band, 38 Special, Derek Trucks, Yellowcard and Shine Down to name a few. Bed Bug Guru checks off all the boxes of rising stardom: grungy guitars, angsty lyrics, dark smoky venues and a die-hard following. Taking inspiration from DIIV, Modern Color and Spirit of the Beehive, Bed Bug Guru might be the next big all-American rock band.
There was never a dull moment during their recent concert at Neon Moon. Sweaty fans were jumping and moshing around the tiny venue; singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs. At one point, Jake Knoechel entered the crowd to mosh alongside them, guitar in hand. He never missed a beat. That’s when I found myself wanting to join in on the fun. The energy was unmatched. You would not believe it was only their second show. Ever. The first being in a living room the week prior.
Shane Malone, lead vocals and guitar, grabbed my hand as he led me through Neon Moon’s kitchen (in use at the time, by the way) and into a back alleyway to escape the noise and talk about his band. Before we had a chance for a formal introduction, I bombarded him with the question that had been swimming around in my head all night: Where the hell did the name Bed Bug Guru come from?
“I was in the thrift store shopping around. I saw this work shirt that said Bed Bug Guru. I think it was like a bug exterminator shirt, I don’t know,” Malone said. “I thought it was sick. I actually told Jake that day that we should make a band called Bed Bug Guru.” Shockingly enough, the name fits perfectly.
Malone has played with each member of the band separately for years, but they only recently decided to join forces last July (after finding a pest exterminator shirt in a Goodwill, of course) He explained why he decided to quit his multi-year-long solo career to pursue something more “him.”
“I got kind of bored of that [solo career] because it was just <so> indie-pop. I was working with this record label in Germany, and it felt very forced. I just felt trapped in that TikTok catchy surf indie-rock kind of thing. I just wanted to make something a little more different, a little more fresh, and a little more me.”
Their most recent song,“expired,” is the perfect breakthrough track to kick-start their career. With enticing lyrics like “Feeling so tired. Like milk, expired …” I mean, who can’t relate to feeling like spoiled milk? All jokes aside, Bed Bug Guru has that kind of sound that makes you want to scream—in a good way. Leading up to, and immediately after the concert, I have had them on repeat, which is easy because they only have two released songs as of now. They have that type of music that calls for max volume and windows down.
Having only been a band for three months, they have done incredibly well: doing “weekenders” (playing in Jacksonville one night and Gainesville the next), being interviewed for articles, entertaining offers from a New York record label …
“Things have been escalating a little bit faster than we’ve been ready for,” Malone explained, a little hesitant to drop the news since it has not come to fruition yet. “There’s been this label in New York that presses vinyl. They DM’d us saying they’d be interested in doing an album so, if that pans through then we’ll probably do an album sooner rather than later.” Which is great news for the fans. What would you call them? Mites? Pests? Sounds better than Swifties if you ask me.
To learn more about the band and upcoming shows, follow them on Instagram @bedbugguru.