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Ugly eyewear a disguise for good players?

Guys do make passes at girls who wear glasses. But Smugglers vocalist Grant Lawrence says that kind of thing never happens when the situation is reversed.

"One time, a girl actually told me, `I think your glasses look great.' I'm not sure she was being completely sincere," he said during a telephone interview from California. "It's far more likely that she was being sarcastic."Most of the members for the Vancouver, British Columbia, five-piece wear eyegear, usually with "unflattering," heavy plastic frames and thick lenses. According to Lawrence, that has led to no end of taunting in more "rustic" parts of Canada and the United States.

"We get yelled at a lot," he said. "People are always calling us nerds, or they stare at us like we're a comedy troupe or something - well, I guess we are a comedy troupe, just not one in the common sense of the word."

The group's admittedly comical appearance even prompted one ne'er-do-well to ask band members if they were going to a "Buddy Holly convention," a verbal taunt that inspired the title of the Smugglers' new six-song EP.

"It was probably meant to be malicious, but instead we liked the sound of it," said Lawrence, who goes without corrective lenses when the band performs. "We thought, `Yeah, maybe we are on our way to a Buddy Holly Convention.' That would be pretty cool. Now we're telling people that we're going to hold one on Feb. 3, 1999 (the 40th anniversary of Holly's death)."

The EP actually rocks harder than the band's previous full-length, 1996's "Selling the Sizzle" - no mean feat, given that album's ferocious blend of garage-rock, mod rock and pop-punk. For the release, the Smugglers enlisted producer Kurt Bloch (a member of Seattle's Fastbacks), who "really turned up the guitars," Lawrence said.

"(Bloch) has this strangely menacing falsetto voice, so when he tells you to rock, you'd better do it," he said.

Of course, that excuse still doesn't account for why the band's live shows ups the "rock" notch even further. Even more peculiarly, Smugglers concerts often feature dance and kissing contests - an excuse for the band to "get to know" its fans better.

"We wear glasses, so we've got to find some kind of advantage," he said.