In August of 2020, BUG met under a tent at the Mountainview College tennis courts for their first band practice.
As an incoming freshman during the hight of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jared Davis, now guitarist for BUG and a sophomore majoring in computer science, was looking for people to jam with. After meeting Aine Gunn, the vocalist for BUG and a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, on his first day at BU, and reaching out to Lucy Goodman, the drummer for the group and an undeclared sophomore, after seeing Goodman’s post on a Facebook group for new students, the initial group was formed, with the addition of bassist Brandon Walsh, who has since transferred.
Due to limited access to music practice rooms and instruments due to COVID-19 restrictions on campus during their first year, the group would meet outdoors, usually at Appalachian Collegiate Center. Davis discussed how their rehearsals would operate.
“[Walsh] would play through my laptop, I would play my acoustic and [Goodman] would hit the table,” David said.
It was during these early outdoors jam sessions that the band’s name was created.
“There were a lot of bugs outside of Appalachian [Collegiate Center],” Davis said.
BUG as we know them now was complete when Sophie Hamero, the bassist for BUG and a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, joined the group last semester after meeting the initial members in jazz band class.
This year, the band has enjoyed increased access to practice spaces and instruments on campus, creating more music and performing at more gigs. The band recently performed at Spring Fling’s student stage, as well as the Food Co-op’s Spring “Tiny Desk” concert last Friday night. Goodman described the close-knit musical network that has developed at BU over the past two years.
“Everyone is tapped into the same music network here, and the same people throw shows,” Goodman said.
BUG’s music is often created with live performance in mind, with Hamero emphasizing and the band members agreeing, that they want to create music that is “fun to play live.”
When the group meets to practice, Davis usually comes prepared with a guitar part and Goodman writes parts of the song.
“We’ll write parts that fit with it, and together we’ll work on the structure [of the song].” Davis said. “I like to play things that I haven’t heard other people play. I like when the guitar doesn’t sound like the guitar. I’ll take techniques where you purposefully play the instrument wrong and try to use them.”
When asked how they would classify their music style, the group said “alternative progressive math rock.” For those of you that have never heard of math rock before, Davis explained.
“I like math rock because it takes more complex ideas and chord voices and time, but couples them with high energy,” Davis said. “I find technical music to be kind of boring when played live, and I wanted something that people could jump to.”
However, the band takes musical inspiration from a plethora of sources.
“No band wants to make their sound just one type of genre,” Hamero said.
Davis explained that his guitar-playing has been influenced by everything from jazz to death metal, giving special mention to the Beach Boys and Japanese band Tricot, Goodman traced her drumming style to musical icons Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder, as well as British rock band Black Midi, Hamero mentioned Joe Dart from Vulfpeck and Flume as inspirational bassists, Gunn noted Andrew Bird and Madison Cunningham and the band collectively acknowledged their love of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Gunn, BUG’s lyricist and vocalist, said that she mainly writes her lyrics about people. For her, songwriting and performance are cathartic.
“At the end of the day, people are the most important parts of our lives,” Gunn said. “Once I’ve written a song about someone who reminds me of pain, I can start to clear the traces of them from my mind.”
However, Gunn also said she is trying to diversify her lyrical content.
The band members described the personal and social growth that they have experienced from being in a student band, especially through live performances. Goodman praised her band members’ motivation and skill.
“I think we push each other a lot in terms of musicianship — being in the band has made me a much better musician and forced me to practice,” Goodman said.
Hamero credits her band membership with improving her social experience at BU.
“I have more friends from [being in the band] than I had before,” Hamero said.
Davis and Gunn talked about building confidence through live performance.
“I’m pretty quiet, so playing on stage is somewhere where I am not quiet,” Davis said.
“I absolutely love performing, both as a way to channel emotions, as well as a challenge,” Gunn said. “Every gig has brought me face-to-face with leg-shaking stage fright, and I’m getting better at overcoming it. It gives me everyday confidence because if I can risk bombing in front of a screaming crowd, I can manage an impromptu conversation.”
As the group members wrap up their sophomore year at BU, an exciting future lies ahead of them. They hope to record more songs and eventually release an EP, as well as continue to perform at as many gigs as possible.
“We went from practicing outside at a picnic table to playing gigs, and for that, I’m grateful,” said Gunn.