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Friday, January 20, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Thrash-Happy Lemons Rocking Out In Own Driven, Sophisticated Style

----------------------------------------------------------------- Club preview

The Lemons with Shameidols and Sourmash, The Crocodile Cafe, 2200 Second Ave., tonight at 9:30. $5. 441-5611. -----------------------------------------------------------------

Does life imitate art? In rock 'n' roll, it imitates "Spinal Tap." Drummers are always the first to blow up.

"We're on our third," explained The Lemons lead singer, lead guitarist, chief writer and founding member Jimmy Paulson. Paulson is sitting on the couch in his manager's office, doing a funny, cigarette-assisted recitation of The Lemon's chronology, waiting for some fellow band members to show.

"Our new drummer - Nabil Ayers - is the best," smiles Paulson through a gray-blue cloud. "He was actually a guitarist in another band that broke up when our second drummer left. It was perfect. He's been with us about six months and the band has been together about three years. I think. I'm not really that good at time and dates."

What Paulson, Ayers, guitarist Greg Lovell and bassist Brent Saunders are good at is making meaty, driven, accessible rock 'n' roll. They have the straight-ahead attack of, say, the Ramones, but with more sophisticated lyric and melodic augmentation. Still, it's the kind of music you don't have to be too finicky about. You don't really have to listen to the words to let it roll over you. It'll roll over you anyway.

"The songs usually start with a riff or some chords," says Paulson. "Then when I find a melody, I'll just start singing sounds, noises. It feels stupid, but it works. Once we have that, I think `Well, what do I want to write about?' Something eventually comes up, but I'd say that we've gone into the studio more than once with two of the verses missing. You do them in the car, wherever."

The band's first recording was the hastily done CD, "Marvel" on the independent Marcola. "It isn't great, but people listened to it," says Paulson. "When we brought them the new tape, they could really hear a difference, the reaction has been really good." Paulson says they've been shopping the tape around and there are major labels interested. "Some people have flown in to see us and we're going to showcase in L.A. later this year, so we'll see what happens."

Ironically the new recording, a rock solid collection aptly named "Sturdy," won't be released in its current form.

"We want to redo it with Nabil. The first one only took 10 days, it sholdn't be hard."

By now, drummer Ayers has shown complete with nachos in hand. He offers one and all a chip and tells of his first performance with the band last summer.

"We were one of the opening acts for Mudhoney at the Mural Amphitheatre," he says as he munches. "9,000 people, it was amazing."

"I was really nervous," adds Paulson. "The audience hated the first band, I figured they were just there for Mudhoney. I'm on side of the stage clapping like crazy for the other band, trying to help out. It didn't work. But it turned out they wern't just Mudhoney fans, they just didn't like the other group. We did great."

For a band that's basically thrash-happy - Paulson insists they only want to rock - interesting influences surface. The Beatles come up, as do the Plimsouls. "They opened for Men at Work when I was in the sixth grade," says Ayers. "It was my first live concert."

"The first concert I ever saw was The Knack with The Heats in '79," kicks in Paulson. "I was 12. Not too long after that I saw KISS. I was ruined for life. I never actually became a member of the KISS Army, but in spirit, I was Chairman of the Board."

Like Sinatra?

"Hey, I saw him last year at Puyallup," grins Paulson, "big scotch in his hand saying, "Look what I found!" Smokin' like crazy . . . he's like what, 78? And he still sings pretty good!

"The critics didn't like him," Paulson finishes, snubbing a butt and smiling again, "but I did."

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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