Photo by Sarah Megysey
Article by Alisa MannaProfessor Greenhouse started their musical career in Kent, Ohio but are now making their way to Denver, Colorado at the end of July. What began in 2008 as a one-man acoustic-folk act has transformed into a three-piece rock ‘n’ roll explosion. Though the band went through several incarnations during the past four years, Professor Greenhouse are finally satisfied with their arrangement. The current line-up consists of vocalist-rhythm guitarist Chris Wallis, drummer Bob Vokac and lead guitarist Charles “Carl” Welch. The band reassures the folk is gone and all that’s left is pure rock ‘n’ roll. “In the beginning I said we need to grow this, it needs to be louder and we need to rock a little harder,” Wallis said. “After all those versions [of the band], here we are now.” The members said before Carl joined Professor Greenhouse, they skated around playing the music they wanted to make. “We’ve just started doing exactly what we want to do,” Vokac said. “This is the music we want to listen to and the music we want to put out.” Welch agreed, adding, “I always think of it as being what we want to see when we go out to a show.” Without a bassist, the band managed to focus more on what each individual was doing and the music they wanted to play. While filling up the “sonic void,” Professor Greenhouse consistently found bigger and better ways to represent them and their sound. “We’re still discovering new things that are defining us and that we want to say is Professor Greenhouse,” Wallis said. The members never viewed themselves as the quintessential rock group with a bassist or keyboardist, but they did see the pure essence of rock ‘n’ roll: “a few sweaty dudes in a basement,” Wallis said. The singer said this generation is in an age where there’s a cross between multiple subgenres, but Professor Greenhouse only fits into one. “If you think of rock ‘n’ roll, and a lot of people think of rock ‘n’ roll when they sleep at night, I feel like this is what they think of,” Vokac said. With influences such as Grand Funk Railroad’s album Grand Funk (aka The Red Album), Led Zeppelin, the James Gang and Thin Lizzy, the obvious outcome is dark, sexual and sheer rock ‘n’ roll. Despite none of the members being fans of metal music, they often find metal riffs and tones sneaking through, even though they’re aiming in a different direction. “I also feel like there’s been a little Van Halen seeping into it,” Welch said. “And that’s strange because I would never site that as an influence.” Wallis agreed, “We’re using that with influences from here and there.” As the vocalist, Wallis writes all the lyrics while the instrumentation is a shared responsibility. “We collaborate on pretty much everything when it comes to whatever is being played,” Kovach said. Wallis added that not only does the drummer write guitar parts, the guitar players write drum parts. All members are fluent on multiple instruments, which contributes to the creative and entertaining aspects of writing music together. The members can be heard showing off their musical skills in the band’s cover of “And Your Bird Can Sing” by The Beatles “In the song Chris plays the mandolin, Carl plays the guitar and I play the banjo,” Vokac said. The drummer thinks if there’s one thing listeners can relate to in Professor Greenhouse, it’s the instrumentation. “I don’t know anything about the words, so that shit can just fly out the window,” he said. “But I love the auxiliary shit, and I think that’s what people will get out of this.” The members of Professor Greenhouse are passionate about what they do and hope to keep their music alive while growing together as a band and in fan base. “I want to play Professor Greenhouse music constantly,” Wallis said. “Do this all the time and nothing else.” Vokac agreed, adding, “I feel like this is it, this is the whole band. And the goal of this band is to keep it the same band and to move forward to get our music out to as many people as possible.” Even though Professor Greenhouse are Denver-bound, there’s still a chance to see their going away show July 19 at the Stone Tavern in Kent. The members promise an energetic performance featuring Youngstown-based band Album and Kent’s Made Like Trees. “People should watch out, because even though we’re leaving Ohio we have every intention of making it back in a bigger and better way,” Wallis said. Professor Greenhouse will release a single available to download the week after their June 19 show. The band also hopes to have an EP within the next few months. To see the video updates of “And Your Bird Can Sing” or “Kick out the Jams,” please visit the band’s Facebook or YouTube websites, where other tracks are accessible as well.