One of the things I love about doing this is the absolute WEALTH of awesome new things I get to discover. Music, games, people, places- all of it. I like to think I’m an “ear to the ground” kind of guy, but there’s ALWAYS something that I’ve missed and I’m also always stoked to have someone hit me with some good new shit. I mean, it’s impossible to know about EVERYTHING these days considering there’s like a million new songs, games, and shows coming out every day and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
Sometimes “out of the blue” is the best place to come from.
What’s even better is when the “out of the blue” thing is actually GOOD, and if you checked out my interview with Denver’s Rozu from last week you’ll remember that they were one of three bands that I got approached about by a completely random PR fella over in the UK. If you’re not totally shit at math, that means I have two more bands to go and London’s Plastic Barricades are up next. After doing a deep dive into everything they have on Spotify (remember, I was flying blind!) I have come to the conclusion that the only thing that will accurately describe them is one of my world famous weird-ass metaphorical descriptions: Plastic Barricades sounds like the offspring of early-period Death Cab For Cutie and The Shins got super into Sonic Youth but decided that the New York arthouse thing wasn’t their bag so they high-tailed it to London to make quirky and expansive songs cause they fucking well felt like it.
It makes sense to ME.
It’ll make sense to YOU too, once you listen to Plastic Barricades which you most DEFINITELY will after this interview. These guys are talented musicians who really know their shit about writing and producing too, and the cool thing you’ll notice is how much it comes through in their words. In fact, I should shut my fucking mouth and let them talk- so here goes. This particular chat is the result of a fucking fantastic conversation between myself and drummer/producer/one half of alt/indie duo Plastic Barricades -Paul Love. He seems like the kind of dude I could meet for lunch and end up drinking with until 4 AM on a pure whim cause of getting sucked into a conversation, and that’s precisely the kind of person I like making music.
(AFHGhost1) You guys moved to London in 2012, how long were you a band before the move?
(Paul Love/Plastic Barricades) Dan moved to London in 2012 and I’d been there since 2007. I moved there from Liverpool to study music at university and we met when Dan came to rehearse at my recording studio. I’d only opened it a few weeks before. He was one of my first customers. The line-up was pretty different then i.e. it had more people and none of them were me. He and Elina (who makes all the artwork and videos) have been the two constants in the band. They released 3 EPs as Plastic Barricades before the move. First thing he did when we met was give me the “Tree of Ideas” EP. I thought it was bloody good! I was working with a lot of other bands at the time so it was 6 years and 3 drummers later when we finally got together. I’m glad we did, because I bloody love making music with him.
How has London shaped you as musicians, being such a massive place (and competitive as hell) it must cause you to really push for greatness so you can stand out amongst the insane amount of bands, right?
I was always really anti-anything-after-1980s-pop and anti-establishment as a kid… I’m still pretty anti-establishment. I’m working on it. I’ve always loved playing drums. I grew up wanting to be a Beatle and listened to guitar music pretty exclusively. Queen, Pink Floyd, Motown. London really widened my horizons to Jazz, RnB, Electronica annnnd Pop. Being in a famous band didn’t work out so I ended up opening the aforementioned music studio, producing records, and being a session drummer. I had a great time travelling the world playing shows but having very little creative input really wore me down. I like making things and constructing stories. I don’t like just being a pair of hands. You’re right, the competitiveness really improved my musicianship, but it’s also destroying a lot of creativity. Too many bands writing the same songs wearing the same clothes and doing the same things because they want to be “professional” instead of “fucking awesome
Yeah, that’s the fucking WORST. Nothing sucks the life out of music like a complete lack of authenticity. It’ll always be a thing though, it’s just the nature of the biz. Doesn’t make it suck any less though! So, London? You guys must be broke.
Yeah, we’re broke. Dan’s still in London, I recently moved to Paris (perfect timing with Brexit!) but the train ride’s only 2 hours. €8 beers have a wonderful effect on my work life. Not much going out for us. We have a 2x3m studio in a shed we’ve built in a secret location in London and we write, record, and mix everything ourselves in there. We like the DIY approach. We’re both good techs and can build our own instruments too, so we’re pretty self-sustaining. We’re a free range bio band with vertical integration.
Good for you guys, cause the less you need to depend on other people the better. Independence is freedom, especially in art. If you take a look at your Spotify profile, it looks like you guys have been dropping singles here and there and then ultimately compiling everything into an album. What led you to this approach? The collective short attention spans of listeners? Money for studio time?
We get 80% of the album done and then start releasing singles so there’s a buzz by the time we have it finished. Seems to be working. It’s Dan’s idea. He was a music journalist back in Tallinn so I defer to him for that expertise. I’m more of a prog guy. Give ‘em a big meal and they can digest it how they like! Dan’s way worked better. The first single from the new album is out now. It’s called “One for the Road” and the next single is coming on the 1st of Feb.
It’s really strong, and I REALLY like what you guys have going on guitar-wise. It’s kind of left-of-center, it goes where it needs to but not necessarily where you THINK it will. So about longevity- how do you guys feel you fit into the musical landscape of 2019 and beyond, what mark do you want to leave on the history books?
I think there’s a grunge revival happening right now, but the attitude of young people now is way better than the 90’s generation. Eco living, activism, and positive vibes instead of complaining and heroin. I want to make a positive impact. Remind London’s musicians that you can make rock music that’s fun, new, interesting, and different. I was really happy with Coldplay’s new announcement. Touring’s bloody terrible for the planet and it’s great that such a big band is putting a major effort into figuring out ways to make it better. I want to be a part of that and I want to write songs that help people.
That’s an absolutely fan-fucking-tastic mindset to make art from, if you can stay in that place you’ll be set. Now, some fun shit. What are your “albums of shame”? You know, the ones everyone assumes you love, or the ones that are considered essential listening but you have never listened to. The “hate mail opinions” if you will. Go ahead, I won’t judge.
Some things people might not expect from me: I love Justin Bieber, Julia Michaels, and Ed Sheeran. I think the only good song Metallica has ever written is Enter Sandman. I love musicals. The Mars Volta were only good when Jon Theodore was on the drums. I haven’t listened to anything the Gallaghers have done post-Oasis. Lewis Capaldi is the next big thing. I’m kinda disconnected from the rock scene. I still think of Biffy Clyro as a new band. Limp Bizkit were my favourite band when I was 13. I didn’t like any of the Emo bands apart from Bright Eyes (was he Emo?). I was too retro to be a scene kid. I don’t pay attention enough to know what I’ve missed. Too busy getting the hi hat to sound right in the mix!
Biffy Clyro is the fucking SHIT. Those guys are just bananas talented, and “Opposites” might be one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It’s a masterpiece. Bright Eyes was lumped in with Emo but I don’t, for whatever reason, fully associate them with it. For me, Emo was ALL about The Get Up Kids, I still wear “Something to Write Home About” the fuck OUT like 3 times a year.
Next, your top 5 favorite albums of all time. I have the technology to know if you’re lying so give it to me straight.
- The Beatles – Abbey Road
Just looking at that written down makes me feel good. From Come Together all the way up to The End and Her Majesty it’s an absolute masterpiece. My dad taught me how to play drums as soon as I was big enough to reach the pedals by sitting me at a drum kit and making me play every song on the album until I got them all right. Then I had to play the whole album start to finish, including the gaps between songs without missing a note. I had to learn precisely how long those gaps were and to start the song at the right time. It took me… a long time. He didn’t give me any guidance other than “listen. Play what he plays.” I couldn’t have had a better education for rhythm, timing, listening and song construction.
- The Blues Brothers Soundtrack
My mate Pete got married in Chicago around Halloween last year so we stuck on suits and shades, hired a tandem bicycle and rode around places from the movie with this blaring on my bluetooth speaker. Sweet as fuck.
- John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
My first Jazz record. Still my fave. I love how it just swims. It’s thick. You can feel it wash over you from the first note. It’s like hot chocolate.
- Kanye West – Life of Pablo
This dropped when I split up with my ex-wife and I ended up having it on repeat every day for months. That Nina Simone sample “I loved better than my own kin, dear. From the very start. I don’t blame you much for wanting to be free. I just wanted you to know.” Wow. That was painful to hear. Ultralight Beam is one of the greatest songs of the past 20 years. I love how Kanye juxtaposes genres and tones for effect. It’s a very different way of making music. The most honest guy in music right now.
- The Mars Volta – Deloused in the Comatorium.
Their first album and still the best. Most original rock band since Nirvana. Have you seen their MTV awards performance of Drunkship of Lanterns? Cedric starts with a handspring, throws the mic round like it’s a yoyo and just tears up the stage before jumping into the crowd, steals a guys glasses and steps on his girlfriend’s head and all without missing a word. Asshole move, but very entertaining. Where did everyones’ bollocks go?
Cedric Bixler-Zavala is the coolest motherfucker with a microphone, period. Homeboy struts like some kind of acid-eating Mick Jagger with an Anarchists Cookbook in the hand that ISN’T swinging a microphone like a maniac. He reminds me of Rob Tyner from the MC5- in case you can’t tell, I fucking love The Mars Volta. Anyway, you’re into good shit man, I’m always scared somebody is gonna be all “Avril Lavigne just really changed me, you know?” and then my heart would explode instantaneously.
I feel like this is the kind of conversation that could keep going for a long time, so tell The Ghost Generation’s readers where they can find you online, when they can expect some more new music, and if you have any shows coming up- I have a lot of readers in the UK so you might actually get a few bodies in the door from this!
You can find us online by searching for Plastic Barricades Music. We’re on Spotify and all the other streaming services. The highest paying one is Tidal. Stick it on silent and leave it on repeat if you like. We’re looking forward to being out on tour, but we haven’t got any shows lined up yet. Let us know if you want us to play in your town. We like a crazy show with good times. We’re not about just getting up on stage and playing our songs and making you listen. We know you work hard and your time is precious. We want to give you something special. Keep an eye out for our new album ‘Self Theories’ and keep listening!
Nice, if you’re looking to come to the ATL you guys would probably do well at the Drunken Unicorn, 529, and a couple others. When you get to that part of shit let me know, I can steer you towards a couple rad places. SUPER appreciate you doing this by the way, we’ll need to keep in touch for sure.
No, Aaron, Thank you!!!! You actually researched us and asked interesting questions!!!!!!! That is so rare. THANK YOUUU!
There you have it, Ghosties! You can find Plastic Barricades here, here, here, and finally…here. If they’re ever in your area go see them and pick me up a t-shirt, I probably couldn’t get a sitter. Thanks again to Andrew with Rogue PR for the random email containing rad bands.
A brand new blog/website where this happily married, 30-something father of 2 little minions rants, raves, and speaks in tongues. Raw, honest, and riddled with profanity. Get on board and let’s make The Ghost Generation awesome together!http://theghostgeneration.com Twitter.com/Gh0stGeneration