INTERVIEW: Plaines Taking Flight in Wellington Music Scene
It might be their dark, gloomy post-rock style, reminiscent of Slint’s adolescent classic “Spiderland” (if it were more empathic and hopeful). Or perhaps it’s their live performance, which seems to transcend beyond your usual Eyegum Wednesday gig. Whatever is it, up-and-coming Wellington band Plaines are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the grungier, more thoughtful side of the Wellington music scene. Grayson Lawrence interviews the four young musicians at KK Malaysian on a beautiful Wellington afternoon, to try and find the core of what makes them so damn interesting.
I guess we should start with formalities. What are your guys names, what do you play, and where are you from?
Riley: My name is Riley, I moved here from Auckland 3 years ago, and I play drums.
Christian: I’m Christian and I play guitar.
Matt: I’m Matt, I play guitar and do vocals.
Chris: I’m Chris, I play bass, and moral support.
What would you say the band’s main musical influences are?
Chris: That’s classified information. What have you done to deserve trade secrets... If we were to tell you that, and you were to tell the public, then the public would know, and they’d stop listening to us!
Christian: Nah that’s not true!
What inspires you guys to create music on a day to day basis?
Matt: I guess it’s the fact that death is closing in on us at all times, and we only got limited human experience, so we just have to pump it out.
Christian: What inspires us would maybe be that playing music together live is really fun, just playing music with other people is real fun.
Chris: I was gonna say, 3 coffees each and the dim spectre of our ex girlfriends
To say it simply, your guys music is far out and complex. What creative process do you guys go to most commonly to create these intricate melodies and songs?
Riley: Lots of solidarity and introspection.
Which one of you guys writes the songs?
Christian: If you’re referring to the Plaines album, it’s pretty much all Matt. Riley’s playing drums on all of it, Chris isn’t on it, neither am I. Matt and Riley are the two guys on the album. Matt is the melody maker.
When did the band start? And what did that lineup consist of?
Matt: A year and a half ago me and Riley start playing together. We all played in the same circle in Auckland years and years ago in high school. So we were all well acquainted with each others styles and stuff like that. Half the songs on that Plaines record Riley and I have been playing for almost 2 years now, but some of them are older. I’ve been playing with Chris for years and years now. We we’re all well acquainted with everything before it became Plaines.
When did this specific line up of the band start?
Matt: 4 weeks ago!
Christian: That’s because I only joined the band 4 weeks ago! And Chris wasn’t in the band either. This is a very new line up! Brand new! 4 weeks ago! And We’ve played 2 shows already! We’ve got a third one coming up on Thursday.
What was the reason behind all the various changes the band have gone through over the years?
Matt: Our old bass player is a Jazz uni student, so he’s in countless bands, and he’s going away to Europe for a few months, so we wanted to get Chris in from the start of the year, rather than just getting Chris in for a few months, so we could get our chemistry right for the whole process, and our other guitarist, Skud, is committed to his own thing. So, it kinda just revolves. But it’s always revolving in the same friend group, so it never really feels strange.
This is a question specifically for Matt. On your records, you have a very distinct vocal style, which includes a lot of falsetto. What made you choose this?
Matt: Interesting talking point as of recently, Well, the falsetto was because I was dissatisfied with my regular voice, but I’ve had a bit of a philosophical change of that, of late. I'm trying to get more comfortable with my normal voice, and I enjoy it more. It definitely works better live, to use my normal voice, rather than falsetto, but falsetto is fun to work with the production. So we’ll see what happens in the future. I guess it’s just another option really, I’m trying just to have as many options as possible, because there’s a time and place for each, and you don’t want to limit yourself I’d say.
What do you guys think of the Wellington music scene right now?
Chris: There’s always something to do, there’s always someone to see. Wellington music on the weekend, is like anything on the weekend, y’know? Sometimes you get shouted a few lovely wines, you see a lot of pretty faces, you make some new friends, you’re invited to some new parties, you get a good sleep-in, and your paycheque ties you over the full 2 and a half days. Some days, you pass out before 6, both evenings. The peaks and troughs that you’re experiencing inside yourself, are also happening on the 2 to 3 acceptable stages.
What are these 2-3 acceptable stages may I ask?
Chris: I wouldn’t want to close down our options on the 4 or 5 unacceptable stages.
Does anyone want to summarise what Chris very boldly said about the Wellington music scene?
Christian: There’s a lot of bands, you can always see bands. It’s very vibrant. I mean, what you think about it is fully dependent on your music taste, and it’s kinda always changing with trends, for better or worse. There’s a lot of pop bands, indie-pop bands, which is sweet. I’d say it’s vibrant at the moment.
What are some of the band’s favourite local acts?
Christian: I’m gonna say Soda Boys.
Riley: Fuck yeah, agreed.
Matt: I’m gonna go a bit bigger. I reckon the All Seeing Hand are nailing it. If you wanna go see some blast beats, Tuscoma have a lot of blast beats, I appreciate that.
Chris: I also adore The All Seeing Hand, I saw Womb at the Newtown festival and I was very impressed with the front person, and I’d also like to shout out 3 of our mates, Yung Gho$t, X/VAYZ, and Skud Gambosi. Oh, and Chronic Shnxman.
Now I know you guys have a short history with this line up, so this is specifically for Matt, but what’s the worst gig you ever played as Plaines?
Matt: Alright, so probably the biggest blunder in a Plaines show so far, is that we were playing Christchurch at Space Academy, and one of Riley and Christain’s mates Ed was there, and Ed was badgering me for a shout out. So I was like yeah, ok, I’ll give you a shout out. So at some point during the set, I said “Ed, we hate you, don’t come to our shows anymore” except no one heard me say Ed. Ed also didn’t hear me say Ed. So everyone reckoned I just said “We hate you, don’t come to our shows”
Chris: And our photographer passed out in the disabled bathroom at 6pm. However I’ve only been in the band for two weeks, so there’s a lot more shit to come.
If you could collaborate with any artist, from any media form, what would it be?
Chris: I’d probably be most interested in collaborating with one of the composer-producer crossover studio geniuses that are working in the world at the moment. I’m thinking someone like, Scott Walker. An absolute beast. I wanna say Jon Brion, but not Jon Brion. Also whoever produced the Fleet Foxes album. Or like, maybe Bryce Dessner of the National.
Matt: I’d be inclined to go for one of the those super iconic painters. Like Monet album art done to the music, would blow my mind.
Chris: He’s been dead for a hundred years!
Matt: This is hypothetical of course!
Chris: Gretchen Albrecht painting the album artwork.
What more can we expect from the band in the near future?
Matt: Our album is coming out on cassette on March 29th. We’re also just playing some shows, we’ve got some music that we’ve got to get recording soon.
Chris: More gigs, definitely more shows, and looking to do a music video in the next couple months.
In that case, what are your guys long term dreams?
Riley: We don’t really have any!
Matt: If I could still be playing with the bros in five years, I’d be happy.
Do you guys want to plug anything before the interview’s over?
Chris: KK Malaysian is an awesome restaurant, and you should come here with your friends and family.
Check out all the photos from Grayson’s interview with Plaines below. Photos by Tom Brehm.