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The best kept secret in music


What rock band hasn't decked out as Kiss at one time or another? Members of Lemonenemy donned the requisite platforms and spandex to perform as tribute band Rip and Destroy for a South by Southwest showcase in 2001. The band's pyrotechnics caught host Dr. Demento completely off guard, resulting in, according to the band, "a chest-clutching total Fred Sanford moment" for the well-known DJ and novelty-song connoisseur.
But that's not what lemonenemy is all about. Not entirely.

These are outgoing, fun-loving guys. Frontman Lani Ordone's enthusiastic personality makes your average Labrador puppy seem aloof. And yet the band's music is moody -- though tempered by occasional light guitar melodies -- and angst-ridden. Songs deal with longing and feelings of "how could you dump me after what I put up with?" This probably proves the old saying that the best clowns are the ones most in touch with suffering. Or just that lemonenemy is perverse.

The band's attitude could be compared to the Minutemen, though lemonenemy's tracks are richer and more nuanced. Lyrics like the bitter word play of Dumb Thing -- "you're something, you dumb thing" -- are pure punk. The band hews to themes of frustration, disgust and self-loathing, yet the songs are never without intelligence and humor. Black humor, maybe, nihilist humor, but humor nonetheless.

All of the members have a fairly strong musical background along with goofy band-nerd memories. Guitarist Brian Bell studied piano and, he says, "played lots of instruments for, I don't know, all my life."

"I started with classical music," Bell explains. "Beethoven was my gateway music, but I've degenerated, now I'm down to three chords."

Ordone, in an all-for-one spirit, exclaims, "We own a trombone!" And Bell has a didgeridoo (he claims the Australian Aboriginal wind instrument was a gift). The band's four-track demo EP was made with more basic rock instruments and features skillful studio enhancement and effects. However, Bell says, "We are not opposed to odd noises for texture" so there's no telling what weird sounds might make it on to lemonenemy's eventual full-length CD.

Since they have two singers, Ordone and drummer Frank Bullington, plus access to Bell's vocal talents, the band naturally favors instrumental passages. Ambient music? Lemonenemy's brooding guitars are suited for reclaimed warehouse space and similar life-sucks venues. And although Brian Eno is clearly an influence, the band's music avoids the cold, brittle, emotional tone of the techno pioneer.

Bullington has -- along with a martini-dry wit and a side job as power drummer for the Houston Rockets -- a studio in his house. This makes recording convenient.

Bassist Eric Doxey, with no argument from the rest, says, "The immediate goal of the band is to have a CD, in a store, with a barcode." Ordone adds: "Yeah, a barcode -- if it doesn't have the mark of the man, then how can we charge 11 bucks?"

Until then, lemonenemy reaches fans with live shows and the EPs available there. The band, which has been together since 2000, also has MP3s available through its Web site. Bell and Bullington are grateful for listeners from all over who enjoy the online tracks -- it's a thrill, they say, to get fan e-mail from Sweden.

In the band's hometown, however, there are venues they enjoy playing, like Fitzgerald's, and venues they hope to play someday, like the Verizon Wireless Theater. Ordone would also love to play Party on the Plaza.

"That would be so fine," he says. "How could you say this city is not totally kick-ass when you're standing right in the middle of it?" - Edith Sorensen


lemonenemy - lemonenemy - released 2004
featured on MTV's The Real World San Diego


Feeling a bit camera shy


Lemonenemy began with no inflated expectations, specific vision or cemented direction; three elements traditionally associated with successful bands. A bright orange half-room became a refuge where three longtime friends were at liberty to play at the volumes they insist upon. After two years of sonic freedom, they discovered they had become something. Not certain what it might be, they put a live band together and started sharing what they had created with people in their hometown of Houston, Texas. Response was quick, and they soon found themselves featured in a local paper, nominated for "Best New Act of 2003" in the local music press, and hearing songs from their self-produced 4-song E.P. on local radio. Without realizing it, they were going local. In response to a growing demand, they decided to make a record. Using only the limited gear they had cobbled together in their half-room, they combined their embryonic recording knowledge with fledgling producer Glen Squibb, and the suprising results were mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music.