‘Lush’ ready for battle

Local rock band Lush Progress is beginning to make legitimate noise in Tampa’s music scene as it prepares to compete in the Bodog Battle of the Bands competition at the Orpheum on Aug. 23. (Bodog is the UK/Canadian affiliate of Warner Music.) The members of the five-piece alternative set have honed their skills while progressing through the USF music program – and the signs are beginning to show.

Lush Progress was formed by music composition major Drew Cutler in 2003, with an emphasis on artistry as well as music theory. Cutler’s approach was a bit different than most bands’: The music was first written for the EP A Vigorously Growing Improvement, then Cutler set out to locate band members. He joined with former collaborator Adam Husarek, a fellow music major, and the music began to take its distinct shape.

Cutler and Husarek then brought on bass guitarist Bob Massicotte, who is on course to graduate in fall 2006 with a degree in music education. Matthew Antolick, a professional musician working in Orlando, played drums for the band on its EP. Current drummer Mark Feinman is a sophomore pursuing his bachelor’s degree in music education.

Aside from performing in Lush Progress, Cutler has had a number of compostitions performed by various ensembles at USF events, including the USF Orchestra, cello and violin, percussion, woodwind quintets and solo flute performance, among others.

“Drew knows more about music theory than anyone I’ve met in my life,” Husarek said.

Contrary to most bands seen or heard around campus, Lush Progress is less concerned with playing cover songs, catering to a middle-ground fan element or following trend sets. The band is more concerned with being less genre-specific and more attentive to its approach and the quality of its music.

“Adam and I once spent five hours on four chords,” Cutler said. “We spend an equal amount of time on theory and artistry and lyrical content, whereas most bands you’ll find are more focused on one of those extremes or another.”

The band’s drive to make entertaining, quality music heavily draws from its influences – bands ranging from classic rock groups such as The Beatles and Pink Floyd, to modern artists like Beck and The Flaming Lips – or any music with songwriting that can be examined at a deeper level.

“There are not enough words in the English language to convey the wide range of human emotions,” Husarek said. “This is what I want our music to tap into, while still maintaining coherent, linear music.”

Writing intelligent pop songs that are both catchy and progressive is a goal of Lush Progress.

“One of the things we want to do is find a way to spend time in the studio and experiment,” Cutler said. “We want to play music for a large audience who can appreciate it. We’ll play for anyone, but we hope they appreciate it.

“I’d play in Tiananmen Square if the Chinese government would let me,” he said.

Lush Progress has been practicing its music and perfecting technique and sound for the past several months, while promoting the upcoming Bodog Battle of the Bands show. Lush Progress was voted the best band in Tampa on the Bodog Web site last month, and waits to compete among nine other bands from Florida at the upcoming show. The winning band from the Bodog contest will be awarded $1 million and a record contract.

The band’s popularity has grown from word of mouth, evidenced from its MySpace Web page. From the 27,000-plus song plays they have received, to over 200 comments fans have made in the last two months – ranging from “your music is amazing,” to “digging the tunes,” to “your music is so nice – Kisses from Rome” – it appears the band’s popularity is beginning to progress quite nicely.

Lush Progress’ upcoming Battle of the Bands show is on Aug. 23 at the Orpheum in Ybor city, located on 1902 Republica De Cuba Ave.

To listen to some of the band’s select numbers, visit its MySpace page at www.myspace.com/lushprogress.