Sex, pot and sexpots
“Well fuck you, Stu Podasso! I’m fucking sick of you!”
It doesn’t look nice in print, but the chorus of Livitz Livitz’s anthemic rage against the constraints of high school, eponymous with the fictional teacher “Stu Podasso,” is catchy enough to be a cartoon jingle.
“It’s not bubble gum,” says lead vocalist Ryan Puliz. “I don’t think kids like that kind of stuff.” He’s thankful that the band’s lust for free speech seems to win audiences’ hearts. Fans show up with lyrics memorized, even when the band plays out of town.
The song is from the band’s new album, Footlong, the follow-up to their 2004 debut, Beer Bongs and Backflips. Go past the CD’s cover—a mustard-squirted frankfurter hanging out of a bun—to the liner notes, where you’ll find a photo of a friend taking a dramatically arching, mid-air leak. And in case you think you might miss the party for the album’s July 15 release (heh-heh, she said “release"), forget it, you already did. It was in May. Parties take priority over scheduling finesse for these guys.
After clocking out from their 9-to-5s, the band members spend nights and weekends singing reverently of sex, pot and sexpots. They cite Cheech & Chong in their lyrics, they’re nostalgic about Garth Brooks’ guitar-smashing stage antics back before mega-stardom inspired him to behave, and they think guest starring on an episode of South Park would be a dream come true.
Puliz, drummer Paul Emnas, guitarist Jim Kress and bassist Dan Warrell, all in their mid-20s, wear baseball caps at various angles—forward, backward or sideways—and are cheerfully resigned to the term “frat rock.” The guys laughingly chalk up the prominence of their favorite topics—strippers, drugs, underage girls—to one simple fact: “We were born and raised in Reno,” chuckles Emnas.
The band sounds nothing like the previous generation of rockers who defined the sweet, whiskey-soaked racket of Americana-on-Sun-Valley-stimulants that’s become the sonic hallmark of Reno. Instead, Livitz Livitz cranks out aggressive, two- to three-minute tracks marked with Beastie Boys-worshiping, ska-twinged charisma.
No one in the band is classically trained. Most of them don’t read music. ("I can,” says Emnas, who played in the Reed High School band a few years back. “It just takes a very long time.") But ignorance of treble clefs and sixteenth notes hasn’t caused them much hassle. They’ve lasted six years; they’ve performed live on the video-game oriented cable channel, G4; and for Footlong, they hooked up with producer Ryan Greene, who’s known for working his magic on bands such as NOFX and Rancid. The band even has two videos under its belt.
At present, the band is big enough to have a motor home for touring but still small enough to necessitate laying tile and landscaping by day. The current goal is to find a bigger band whose coattails they can ride on tour.
Though they’d love to be full-time rockers, they’re pleased, for now, with the non-monetary brand of success: communion with their inebriated, beer-soaked, occasionally naked fans.
Puliz says, “People ask when we’re going to make it. But honestly, when 300 people are singing the lyrics to our songs, I don’t know, for the most part, I’m pretty damn content with things like that.”