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Friday, March 11, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sound Check

The Lemons: Solid, Fast, Loud And Plenty Of Punk Attitude

Who are The Lemons?

Jimmy Paulson, vocals, lead guitar.

Greg Lovell, guitars, backup vocals.

Brent Saunders, bass.

Rob Cunningham, drums.

It doesn't get better and more basic than this: A solid rock-'n'-roll band, the Lemons are most often compared to The Ramones, and the similarities are endless. Like the 70s punk heroes, the Lemons have one tempo (fast), one style (loud), and one attitude (loud and fast and reckless).

Both bands attack their instruments with the same passionate messiness, and lead singer Jimmy Paulson, outspoken and high-strung, sings in muscular screams and barks. But what keeps the Lemons from being a purely punk band are their catchy riffs.

While The Ramones sang about giggly, inane things, the Lemons, who are all in their twenties and live in Seattle, Federal Way and Tacoma, focus on youthful alienation and suburban desperation. What could be more suburban than their love song, "Circle K Girl," which has been getting so much airplay on college stations nationwide? (Tune into Green River Community College's station KGRG-FM to hear it).

The Lemons began in 1991 with a different drummer who left about seven months ago. Paulson, the only Seattle native, hooked up with Lovell, who was in the Army, stationed at Fort Lewis. Lovell grew up in Florida, listened to country music and performed in musicals. As he tells it, he was a "young runaway" who ran to California and then Washington.

With bassist Brent Saunders and drummer Jeff Ramirez, the band began opening for local oldtime bands like the Supersuckers and the Dwarves.

But the band wasn't gelling, and the Lemons looked for a new drummer. Rob Cunningham had just moved from Denver, after playing with "too many forgettable bands to name" and had put an ad in the Rocket. Three weeks after he auditioned with the band, the Lemons recorded their CD.

"It was weird," says Cunningham. "It was literally like I auditioned on a Tuesday night, and began playing with them on a Thursday night. It was like cramming for a test or something."

The band began playing Monday and Tuesday cheap cover nights in suburban south King County. Because they don't stay put neatly in a metal, punk or grunge category, they're able to play for different audiences and with different bands; they've played for skinheads with the Dwarves, hip-hop fans with Meddaphysical, and blues freaks with Bathtub Gin.

"We always say, `Hey look, it's really good rock 'n' roll, if you want a classification,' " says guitarist Greg Lovell.

Paulson keeps things slightly edgy with his lyrics of angst and boredom. Describing the CD's first cut, "Slippin Away," he says, "It's about desperation and about feelings of getting away from things . . . I don't know. I've never had to describe it."

Last year, the Lemons put out the CD, "Marvel" on a bare-bones budget. It was snapped up by the Los Angeles indie label, Macola Records, known mostly for carrying rap groups. This summer, the Lemons expect to release a second CD.

Where to hear them:

The Lemons will open for Heatmiser next Friday, March 18, at the Crocodile Cafe, 2200 Second Ave. Call 441-5611 for information.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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