Rochester's Pleistocene is a band that embodies a simplistic beauty born of pop sweetness and a sonic wash of atmospheric curiosity. There's an indie salute given between the lines as well.
Katie Preston is at the heart of it all, writing and performing songs that possess a casual surrender of excess attitude and posture. It's gentle but knows when to knuckle down and seethe.
Working with a rotating cast of musicians, Pleistocene has managed to squeeze out four releases, each displaying more ramped up energy than the one before. Its latest recording, "Spear," is essentially a rock 'n' roll record — a real good one, in fact — with some haunting and heartbreaking components to the overall theme. The band's narcotic lo-fidelity is a welcome constant that comes on organic and never feels forced.
With its lineup solidified — Preston on vocals and guitar; Erick Perrine, lead guitar; Steve Roessner, drums; Matt Werts, bass; and Cammy Enaharo, vocals, Omnichord, and tambourine — Pleistocene continues to push and polish its dynamics while making sure to keep it honest, innocent, and cool.
Preston and Perrine dropped by City Newspaper's office to chat about recording under a blanket, casual versus lo-fi, and dressing up like Roy Orbison. Here's what was said. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.
City: Your lineup seemed to ebb and flow in the beginning.
Katie Preston: It's been pretty consistent the last couple years. We've finally found our groove. This is the official band now.
How did it all start?
Erick Perrine: We started out just the two of us with electric drums. Katie would record stuff in her room. I'd come home and she'd have a comforter over her head whispering into this little recorder. It was kinda terrifying; "There's a person with a sheet over their head."
Preston: I was blocking out sound. I didn't want to hear the neighbors.
So there was no studio?
Preston: Nope. It was all blanket. Our first album was recorded under that blanket. I did the drums and keyboards, and sang under the blanket.
Did Erick record his parts there as well?
Preston: No. He thinks outside the blanket.
You were happy with the outcome?
Perrine: Yeah, that album was really lo-fi and fuzzy. I used to like the word "lo-fi," but now I like "casual" to describe it.
How has the band progressed between the first and latest record?
Perrine: The first one was pretty shoegaze-y the new one is garage-y rock 'n' roll stuff.
Preston: Each of the songs on this album are pretty different, but we make them work as a complete album. We recorded them all together pretty much live. That helped keep it cohesive.
Besides the obvious surf, garage, and indie slant your music has, what are some other influences lurking in your sound?
Preston: I'm influenced by doo-wop, older stuff in general. I love Roy Orbison. I sometimes dress up as Roy Orbison and pretend I'm him at parties.
Does Erick admit to dressing up as anybody or is that part of his thinking outside the blanket mantra?
What's not in the mix that will never be in the mix?
Preston: No nu-metal in the mix. I'd do a metal song, but not a nu-metal song.
Do you guys prefer the studio or the stage?
Perrine: I hate the recording process ... the pressure.
What do you do for fun?
Preston: Hang out on porches.
Preston: Yeah, we like to swim.
Depending on who you ask — or when you ask the question — you'll get a variety of explanations of what the Sound ExChange Project really is: A local contemporary classical ensemble; a chamber group; an artist collective; composers; curators; educators; community-investors.