Dustin Rose, Greg Packet and John Mengerink are hunched over in the dungeon-like industrial basement where their noise-rock trio Drose rehearses and records. In the faint electric lantern light, it looks exactly like their music sounds — cold, grimy, isolated, mechanistic and marked by gnawing discomfort. This is intentional.
“The room really lends itself to being uncomfortable,” says Rose, who formed Drose in 2010 after the unceremonious end of his previous band, Toads and Mice. “This is somewhere dark where a machine could live and a human could never.”
Throughout his years working in garages and warehouses, Rose, a mechanical engineer, became mesmerized and frightened by the sounds that infect his daily life — the percussive screech of a hydraulic sheer press, the wobbling vibrations of welding, that mysterious constant hum that vacillates between comforting and creepy.
“There’s all these reciprocating grinding heavy noises that are real. They’re not out of an amplifier. They’re metal objects resonating. To me, that’s a very scary thing, an anxious sounding thing. I’ve just enjoyed listening to tools and stuff when I’ve been working,” Rose says. “And I finally just got the idea to play guitar like that — or try.”
Thus, he started toying with a sequencer, detuned guitars and melodic yelps, eventually recruiting fellow Dayton-to-Columbus transplants Packet and Mengerink. Drose wrestles with consequences of omnipresent mechanical clatter — technology replacing us, consuming us, etc. These aren’t new ideas (see: any dystopian sci-fi movie, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music), but Drose realizes them with gripping, visceral brutality.
People have noticed. Last year’s A Voice 7-inch nabbed acclaim from British experimental music mag Wire and Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette. One early buyer was Gerard Cosloy, a founder of Matador Records and the noisy, aggressive 12XU label. Locally, Pink Reason frontman/concert promoter Kevin De Broux has been an advocate and mentor.
The momentum stalled out a few times thanks to a series of hernia surgeries that saved Mengerink’s life — “I was probably going to die within 48 hours or so had I not driven myself to the hospital,” he explains — but Drose’s pistons are charging again. Friday they’ll play Dreadful Sounds alongside Murmurs and Pink Reason.