A talented group of State College locals, The Perkolators, performed this past Friday at Levels. They had everyone grooving to their covers of popular songs like Bob Marley’s “Stir it up,” No Doubt’s “Don’t speak,” Rebelution’s “Safe and Sound” and Gloria Gaynor’s 70’s track “I Will Survive.”
But they also performed many original songs and are almost finished with their first Reggae-inspired album, Synesthesia, named after a unique disorder when your brain mixes senses, like smelling colors or seeing sounds.
Valley had the opportunity to sit down with three of the six band members of The Perkolators, lead singer Crissee Gordon, drummer Matt Price and guitarist Eric Milinchuk, all State College townies.
V: [To Crissee Gordon] How is it being in a band with all guys?
Crissee: It’s not easy, but they’re all my best friends so it’s fun. Sometimes it’s ridiculous- they don’t always censor themselves…
V: From a female’s perspective, what don’t they understand during performances?
C: They don’t understand how much pressure it is for me to be in the position of all eyes on me, they’re always like, “Why are you so nervous, who cares just get up there and sing,” but it’s not that easy.
V: What does music mean to you?
C: I grew up in a musical family, Dad played guitar and my Mom sang and played piano so I’ve always been passionate about music, not necessarily playing or singing, just in general I grew up listening to a lot of music…
V: …Reggae music?
C: Not so much until I met the guys. I like Bob Marley, of course, Sublime, all the classics – but I LOVE reggae now. It’s my heart and soul and the Perkolators is what really brought out my singing. At first I was really shy and didn’t project loud enough. I was unsure, but over the years I kind of just let loose. Now I sing my heart out.
V: So you’re saying your band mates helped build your confidence?
C: If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be half the singer I am today. I give them all the credit.
V: Where do you see the band in five years?
C: I can’t really say, it’s so unpredictable but we’re almost finished with our first album- eight tracks, all originals written by the band. Eric Milinchuk, our guitar player, writes a lot of our lyrics and then the band writes their own instrumentals but he usually does the roots of it, he’s a catchy songwriter. I play guitar and write my own music but I usually just leave it up to them and I sing.
V: [To Matt Price and Eric Milinchuk] What are the challenges you’ve faced over these 10 years of playing together as band and also being friends?
Matt: I guess it’s like being in a long-term relationship. You have to learn to compromise and deal with everyone’s priories’ and schedules but it’s hard too because we’ve always been friends first and the band was kind of a byproduct- we started learning some songs and got gigs and thought, wow that went really well!
Later in the interview…
It’s great when you have a chick singer and she’s blowing a room away and that’s what makes our band different- not many reggae bands are fronted by a female. In any traditional reggae set up, it’s a dude singing and then a couple chicks in the background doing harmony but there are a lot of songs you can do with a chick rather than a guy.
Eric: When she’s in the zone and just feeling it- that’s when you hear the magic, that’s when I get goosebumps and Matt and I look at each other and think wow there’s really something going on there. We weren’t just hearing, we’re listening… I got that from a fortune cookie.
If you like reggae music check out The Perkolators’ upcoming performance dates:
Blue and Grey Bar and Grill: Gettysburg, Pa. February 7th
*All proceeds go to The Four Diamonds Fund in care of Penn State Mt. Alto’s THON supporting children battling cancer. For more information visit http://gburgrocks.com/
The State Theater: State College, Pa. February 21st
Photos by Ashley Zucker