The smattering of folks milling around the Fat Daddy's bar an hour before the Jan. 19 Gun Metal Gray show look up from their beers, conversations and a bar-side game of electronic shuffleboard when Gun Metal Gray launches into the band's unique sound-check.

No one-two-check-checks or un-amped bar chords for these guys -- they blast into a full-out rendition of "Round and Round" by Ratt to get their sound levels right.

"It's the only song we play well," jokes frontman Dave Damone.

And, they say, it's just a rockin' song. That's of the utmost importance for the members of the Harrisburg five-piece rock band, which will host an EP launch party at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Guitarist Nick Wright.
Guitarist Nick Wright. (Sean Philip Cotter/The York Dispatch)

Their founding principles aren't very complex, but they set a high bar for themselves.

"I wanted to put on just a full-tilt rock show, y'know," says drummer John O'Connor. "At the time I didn't really know of another band in the area that just put on, like, an arena rock show on a small stage."

He and Nick Wright, one of the band's two guitarists, met in Harrisburg and quickly bonded.

"We met up over drinks and stuff, and pretty much laid the groundwork for what we wanted to do as far as a band." Wright says. "We both have the same viewpoints, which helped."

The longer the band members spoke, democratizing every interview question into a five-man conversation that more often than not took a turn down obviously well-worn conversational paths about various other bands and what music means to each of them, the clearer it became that what Wright said was an understatement. Their viewpoints about music, about old bands, new bands, about what's really important in a performance have a deeply foundational place in the existence of Gun Metal Gray.

Up to this point, the band, which took its name from a paint color, has exclusively played rock and metal covers; the new EP will feature the first original content they've released.

The band put out its first single, "G\m/G," a couple months ago.

Wright.
Wright. (Sean Philip Cotter/The York Dispatch)
As the song's stylized title suggests, with the "m" and the slashes forming the classic metal "devil horns," the song's lyrical content focuses on the genre of metal, and what it means to the band, Wright says.

"It's in your face; it's in your groin," Wright says, gesturing toward both to illustrate his point.

The band members want to capture the emotion and attitude they feel made people enjoy the 70s and 80s big-time arena acts like AC/DC and Guns n' Roses.

In the eyes of GMG, the arena rock and hair metal era of the late 70s, 80s and early 90s is pretty much the zenith of modern music. The songs they enjoy feature the finger-shredding guitar solos, epic performances and technically exacting musicianship of the time.

Frontman Dave Damone.
Frontman Dave Damone. (Sean Philip Cotter/The York Dispatch)

They didn't like the grunge movement that followed (Wright: "That's when everyone forgot how to play their instruments well."); nor are they wild about the state of rock right now (Wright quotes Alice Cooper: "'Half the people in rock and roll these days need to eat a steak.'"). They don't normally listen to much electronic dance music or hip-hop, either.

But they don't aim to make their music exclusive. It's not just for metal fans -- it's for anyone who wants to have a good time, the members of GMG say.

"We can get people who are into, like, hip-hop, or into whatever, and they'll still come out and see the show because they have a blast doing it," Damone says.

For Nick Wright, who's seemingly one of the group's more loquacious members, it's all about the passion.

(Sean Philip Cotter/The York Dispatch)
Showmanship and musicianship make or break a show, but neither's enough if the band doesn't share a bond onstage.

"You've gotta vibe off each other," Wright says. "It reflects in the writing, it reflects in the playing, and people see that.

"When they go to see us they see we love what we're doing; they see the we have a great time doing this," he says.

It comes down to this: They want to rock, and they want you to, too.

"We just want people to start headbanging again," says Damone. "We want you to go home and have your neck hurt the next day."