Local Noise: BuzzUniverse

BuzzUniverse is an up-and-coming Central New Jersey band, originally formed in Elizabeth, which has blurred the lines between genres to become a favorite at festivals and venues throughout the Tri-State area. They’ve been seen at Mountain Jam 08-’09, Floydfest, the Brooklyn Bowl and graced stages from the local area out to the Midwest. I caught up with Alex Garay, guitarist, songwriter and band visionary, about the group and their upcoming CD release.

The music if BuzzUniverse is very eclectic. How would you describe it?

Our music is an eclectic mix of world music and groove. The variety extends from rock, Latin, funk, soul and Americana. All music of the universe is the path we like to follow and learn from. Our ears are open to everything that feels good. A rooted sound from the past that reaches out into the future, keeping the music fresh and unique.

Who are the members of the band?

The current line up is Dave Migliore, drums and vocals, formerly of prog band Catbootz and folk rock band Amorphous; Brian Ciufo, baritone, tenor, soprano saxes and vocals; Meredith Rachel, violin, from Hillsdale, IL; Rosie Lazroe, vocalist, formerly of New Jersey rock band The Jack; and Greg McLoughlin (bass/vocals) formerly of The Mindwanders.

How does the writing process work for you?

Usually I’ll riff on the guitar to combine ideas. It happens in many different ways. Usually I like to get the music together first, but at times an interesting lyric may set off an entire verse that just pours out. That’s when the muse is present and I’ll follow the flow. Other times, I try and use techniques to stimulate the writing by reading, playing other instruments, positive thinking, sifting through old notes and poems, exposing my ears to all music and what is current. I’ll find ways to invite the muse in and not rely on the sporadic moment of inspiration when the muse decides to visit.

How did you originally get the band together?

In 2000, I decided it was time to start a new band after a few years of playing solo and performing with poets. It was time to get back on that horse. I called up Dave to play some drums and we eventually went through many jam sessions until we found the right people who shared an interest in what we were doing. It’s taken us a while, but we finally found a lineup that works naturally, easygoing, and just a solid group of musicians.

Are there any particular songs that are favorites of fans or yourself?

The fans seem to like a lot of our tunes and that says it all for me. The fans are so generous to let us know certain songs that they want to hear at gigs. We do a nice cover of Marshall Tucker’s “This Ole Cowboy” that gets a nice response. Also, we had some airplay on Sirius radio Jam On with our song “Lovelite Babylon” that got a lot of highlights from listeners. Currently, my favorite is a new song called “Your Mystery” that is still unraveling in front of the band and the audience. It’s so cool to be in the eye of the storm when inside the song and seeing how the audience reacts. The entire experience unravels together. Some of the Latin tunes we play are fun and a good challenge. The Latin tunes always gets the audience riled up. They enjoy that vibe.

Where did the name of the band come from?

The name came from us not wanting to be pigeonholed with our music. We wanted to be able to bring the universe to the stage. A little buzz makes it even more enjoyable for the party, but it’s also to encourage awareness of the music in our lives. We wanted to attempt to play many genres of music. The name can be whatever you want it to say to you. It was never meant to be taken so serious because it also has a campy vibe to it.

We’ve been told the name has a young college band ring to it, but that also means the youthfulness and energy we bring to the stage is in high gear. Once you hear the band play, then it all sinks in and you can enjoy the experience. The journey begins. It works for what we do.

What are your goals, musically and professionally?

Our goal musically is just to live what we do. Just get out there and perform to as many venues and people that embrace our sound. We enjoy playing to new audiences anywhere. Professionally, we just have to record and perform without chasing any rainbows and just build on a solid recording and performing career of our own. It can obviously be discouraging if labels and record companies do not agree with your musical outlook. You just have to do it for yourself and the pure joy of making music. It’s all about living it, and not getting caught up in thinking that you’re the next big thing and you need to get signed or else it all means nothing. That’s just not a good headspace to be in. Sure it’s cool to have the conveniences of a label that represents the band with solid support, but truth be told, you just have to live it everyday. The love of music is something that is embedded in your soul and spirit, especially if you perform.

One day when you’re old and grey, you can just look back at all the music you recorded in your life and be proud that it’s documented and it remains when you’re long gone. It’s making your own little legacy for your children and their children.

You can find more information about BuzzUniverse at buzzuniverse.com and facebook.com/buzzuniverse1.