Buzzing on Sunbuzzed
It is no secret that the Dallas-Fort Worth area is a major hub for less-than-conventional music. A regional hotspot for punk, metal, shoegaze, and even noise rock, DFW is home to bands representing a wide variety of genres, from slightly-less-than-mainstream to the downright obscure.
However, some bands take this variety a step further. These bands strive to leave a unique mark on the area’s music culture, pioneering their own sound that transcends that of one specific genre.
Sunbuzzed is one such band. Born in Denton, Sunbuzzed occupies its own niche in the local music scene. The self-labeled “spooky psych garage rock” band projects a full, raw sound characterized by thick, organ-like synths; echoey, soaring vocals; wailing guitar riffs; and aggressive, biting drum work. The overall effect is a dense, high-powered wave of sound that immediately overwhelms listeners with an immersive taste of dark psych fusion.
However, despite the intense, heavy tone that serves as the backdrop of their music, Sunbuzzed produces songs that are surprisingly catchy, even danceable. The more aggressive elements of the band’s sound are juxtaposed against upbeat hooks, familiar song structures, and classic dance beats to create a unique ambiance suited for the weekend bar scene and underground DIY shows alike. Additionally, the band manages to mix these elements in a way that creates a genre greater than the sum of its parts. The end product is a dark, riotous, addicting brand of music that is at once difficult to label and entirely “Sunbuzzed.”
Although each member cites different artists as their musical role models, Sunbuzzed is united by their appreciation of psych pioneers The Doors and perhaps less intuitively, the Queen of Tejano Music, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Other major influences on the band include ABBA, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Ventures, and Paz Lenchantin, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist best known from The Pixies. More broadly, the band draws inspiration from psychedelic art and music, the members’ cultural upbringings, and even occultism, the last of which heavily informs the band’s dark themes and intensely psychological play style. This eclectic mix of musical influences is clearly reflected in Sunbuzzed’s dynamic, genre-blending approach to modern psych and sets the band apart from its peers, even in an area known for its musical innovation.
Like many Denton bands, Sunbuzzed came from humble beginnings. Originally formed as a “pet project between four best friends,” the band was not created with a specific end goal in mind. In the words of synth player Daniel Seranno: “…We [the band members] had all been friends for years to the point of rivaling siblinghood. Once during an afternoon of catching margaritas we ended up at Cari and Ellie’s house where, after a few more shots of the Devil’s elixir, we decided to jam. Although it may have initially been a chaotic wall of sound, we all heard something that could be… In that dimly-lit jam room and under the spell of liquid courage, Sunbuzzed was born.”
From that point, Sunbuzzed progressed in a casual, organic fashion. “Our first house show was opening for a joint birthday party in honor of Lauren and Ellie (lead singer and drummer, respectively),” recalls Serrano. At this time, the band felt no external pressure to emulate or compete with local artists, instead playing for the sake of playing and valuing the experience above all else.
Regardless, in the year since that first show, Sunbuzzed has undergone a great deal of artistic development. Over time, the band gradually became more comfortable playing, both with each other and in front of an audience. This newfound confidence allowed Sunbuzzed to refine their sound, which eventually matured from that “chaotic wall” of noise to the thick, forceful, energetic ambiance that Dentonites recognize.
With that development came exposure. To date, Sunbuzzed has played numerous venues across DFW, including Three Links in Deep Ellum, Shipping & Receiving in Fort Worth, and Denton’s own J&Js Basement (sorely missed.) The band has also been fairly prolific in recent months, playing five shows in as many weeks throughout July and August. This productive momentum is likely to continue as Sunbuzzed becomes an increasingly familiar name amongst Denton residents.
The members of Sunbuzzed cite various motivations for playing, including contributing to the local music scene and using their work as a creative outlet. However, Sunbuzzed is inarguably a group driven by love, both of their craft and of each other. As described by Serrano: “Mainly I think it is the experience that drives us: being able to meet new people, play with other amazing local talent, and get out of the comfort zone anyone can easily fall into within ordinary life. Music is a medium to add some sort of art into the world, to let people have a good time… If we can look back and know that we had a good time and we made something we can be proud about with people we love… Sometimes that's all you need to rest easy.”
Although Sunbuzzed has been largely preoccupied writing new material and booking shows, the band hopes to soon shift their energy toward the creation of an album or EP. Until then, of course, Sunbuzzed will continue to rock Denton with the heart-pounding, foot-tapping, infernal psych jams for which they are known.
Photo by Ellie Alonzao
Header image desin by Jason Lee