PUSHBoX is a hard band to find. It took me nearly a year to track them to their secret base somewhere near the Reno/Sparks border. The practice space doubles as a warehouse and metal shop. Sheet metal and bright shavings litter the area, hiding tools and works of art. Hollow curves of brightly polished steel and dark metal suns are strewn on the welding tables, just beyond the bottle of champagne and bag of Doritos. Driven music and powerful vocals blast out of the partially open bay doors into the deserted parking lot as I drive up.
PUSHBoX is Georgia Mowers on lead vocals and guitar, Michael Underpants on bass, and Pat Williams on drums. I had first seen them shortly after they formed—about two years ago—and really liked them. It wasn’t any particular lyric, song or the booze. I couldn’t put my finger on it but approached Mowers about doing an interview anyway. The songstress smiled, thanked me and declined, saying the band wanted to “work on a few things” before they did any interviews.
So I waited. And waited. Two years I waited to find out why I liked PUSHBoX. I went to more shows. I heard songs I liked but not the ones I had heard before. Give or take something reminiscent, it was usually new.
And there were dry spells, too. No PUSHBoX for months, until I sometimes expected they had just dissolved like so many bands do. They always resurfaced, at times performing with hard rock or mellow folk bands, always with the same passion I’d noticed when I first saw them. The music changed from simple folk/pop into a rhythmically driven rock band. Mowers’ powerful voice continued to develop, too, at times reminiscent of the late Mia Zapata of The Gits. It wasn’t until this past summer, and their first CD, This Little Thing Won’t Hurt Ya!, that they were ready to talk.
Underpants explains a little of why they are so hard to pin down: “We don’t always play a lot of shows. Sometimes three to four a month, then two months off. And we try to keep our sets changing, so you won’t hear anything twice.”
This less-than-consistent performance schedule bleeds into their song-writing, too. With an arsenal of more than 60 songs, they try not to get stuck in a groove or particular trend for too long. Picking what made it onto the nine-song CD wasn’t an easy choice. The CD is a strong first effort, with good doses of rock, introspection, anger and pretty songs. For the quiet and precise Williams, it was an exercise in balance.
“I hate it when I listen to a CD, and I think the first song is pretty good, but the second sounds just like it and the third,” Williams says. “By the time I get to song 10, I just want to get rid of it!”
However, Mowers had different problems. She had to play favorites with her projects. As the lyricist, much of what Mowers writes for PUSHBoX is semi-autobiographical. From the mundane to breakups and politics, she writes about what she feels and how she reacts.
“I don’t want to be preachy and tell people what to think,” Mowers says. “But I’m gonna say what I think. After it’s out of my mouth, it’s up to people to interpret it.”
After finally interviewing PUSHBoX, after years of deliberation, I still don’t know why I like PUSHBoX. But I do. It’s just something about the music.