So there I stood amid the beer-guzzlin' hoi polloi on a random Saturday night, soaking in the sights and sounds at Three Heads Brewing. The joint was jumpin', the joint was packed. The windows were beginning to steam up. Somebody let fly with an enthusiastic scream. It was going to be a good night.
Rochester trio Periodic Table of Elephants - Sean Scanlon, drums, Jason Pariseau on vocals and guitar, and Greg Horton, Bass - was on the bill. The band took to the stage with little-to-no fanfare and proceeded to grind out its trade. The sound had a heavy, 90's-rock slant to it as the band dug deeper and deeper into its guitar-centric groove. The crowd picked up on the mounting energy, unaware of the moral dilemma: specifically, bassist Greg Horton's internal conflict between his job as an audiologist and his gig as a loud, bass-slinging rock 'n' roller.
But aren't all bands too loud? That's the nature of the plugged-in beast. Just how many Rochester bands are guilty of copping to dangerous levels?
Horton weighs in.
"Probably 100 percent," he says. "Even, for example, a bluegrass band that doesn't have a drummer: prolonged exposure to any instrument - amplified or not - if it's loud enough it can cause permanent hearing loss." According to Horton, nobody is safe.
"Certain bands may not cause damage to their audience but with the band members, it can happen cumulatively," Horton says. That's why Periodic Table of Elephants passes out free earplugs at shows.
But enough palaver on this aural slaughter: I'm here to talk about Periodic Table of Elephants, a band born from a bucket-list wish to play rock 'n' roll on a stage.
"Jason confessed to me that he'd been writing songs and playing guitar for years, says Horton. "And nobody had heard him. He had a dream of playing live in a band, just once."
Horton first kibitzed with Scanlon. "I asked him if he wanted to make some noise in this thing, "Horton says. "He said, 'Yeah.' I turned to Jason and said 'You've got a band. Come show me some songs.' "
Though restricted to the rudiments of the music, Pariseau was heavily influenced by the 1990's. "We're all kids of the 90's," he says. "I taught myself by reading the tablature in the back of a guitar magazine. I learned a handful of songs. It came really quickly and I wasn't getting any enjoyment."
Pariseau's rocks were still on. "So I started writing," he says. The band says it didn't set out to write music to sound like it was from the 90's.
"It's just that's the kind of music that was happening when we were first getting into music: heavy alternative, punk, and hardcore," Scanlon says. "Your influences come through whether you want them to or not. But I think our songwriting has definitely gotten more mature. We're sounding less like we're wearing our influences on our sleeve."
At this point, Pariseau says the plan is for one more record to join the band's EP "Henry," and one eponymous live record on the shelves. After that, it's anyone's guess.
"We're all in our 40's," he says. "I want put out one more album, put all my energy and effort behind it. And if it goes nowhere, that's fine. It's hard to see the three of us not playing together in one way, shape, or form."
As the band continues to grow, priorities have shifted some. The dudes abide. "I gave up the rock 'n' roll dream a long time ago," Scanlon says.
"None of us have any delusions of grandeur with this band, trying to make it," Horton says.
"We don't fit in the Rochester scene at all," Pariseau says. "But everyone seems to welcome us."
Scanlon jumps in. "I think they endure us, more than anything," he says.
For more information on Period Table of Elephants, go to facebook.com/PTOEBand.