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Crazy in Love 

Band avoids dreaded emo tag by being psychotic nutjobs.

Sullivan frontman Brooks Paschal can’t bring himself to say the “e” word. He finds many ways to convey “emo,” but he never actually utters it. “I’m really trying to get away from overemotional relationship rock,” he says. “As passionate as it is, it started to rub me as a bummer.” But make no mistake: Sullivan is an emo group -- even if the songs on the North Carolina quintet’s second album, Cover Your Eyes, mostly steer clear of the my-girl’s-gone-and-I-feel-like-crying variety. (Sullivan is part of the Tooth & Nail Tour, which includes MxPx, the Classic Crime, the Fold, and Run Kid Run.)

Paschal formed Sullivan five years ago with bassist pal Zach Harward. After kicking around a couple years with a drum machine, the duo added a drummer and a pair of guitarists. Last year, it released its debut CD, Hey, I’m a Ghost, a collection of pop-punk songs fueled by Paschal’s girlie voice and the band’s monster hooks. But Cover Your Eyes (which comes out on June 5) is a slightly different kind of emo. Paschal eschews the usual first-person weepers about gals who’ve done him wrong and instead spins narrative tales about mean, bitter people and the sorta bad things they do to those around them. Most intriguing is “Great for My Collection,” in which the mentally deranged protagonist shares his deepest twisted thoughts with the woman he’s holding hostage. “I’m becoming more introspective,” says Paschal. “There’s a primal part of ourselves that we’ve denied as we evolved socially.” Paschal says Sullivan is more musically and lyrically open these days. He hopes the bridges the band lays down on Cover Your Eyes connect with listeners who like their emotional hurricanes with a side of nastiness. “This record is a lot darker and a lot meaner,” he says. “But there is an uplifting nature to it.”
Sun., May 27, 5 p.m.

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