Slipping through the Plastic Barricades

Just recently we had the fun of exploring Mechanics of Life, the new album from London alt indie trio Plastic Barricades, finding it a ‘collection of melody spun songs which entice with craft and warmth’. Offered the chance to get to the core of album and band we had the pleasure of quizzing Dan Kert, the Plastic Barricades vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist and one of the band’s founders, exploring the heart of their writing, sound, and album amongst many things…

Hi Dan, can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?

I had several different line-ups under Plastic Barricades moniker over the good part of the last decade, the current line up with Daniele Borgato on bass and Frazer James Webster on drums is active for 4 years. We’ve met through mutual friends at the ICMP (Institute of Contemporary Music Performance) in North-West London and dived straight into gigging and recording.

Have you been or are involved in other bands before? If so has how has that impacted on what you are doing now?

We’ve all played in different bands before, still mainly rock music. All those experiences definitely find their way into our current sounds, helping us to explore new territories.

What inspired the band name?

We’ve once built a fort out of plastic cups in the studio, the rest is history….

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

[The] Desperate need to write, record, and perform music. You cannot really do it on your own, unless you are called Ed.

Do the same things and desires still drive the band from when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

Pretty much…We are in a band because we always wanted to be in a band. But we’ve learned a lot of life lessons along the way and try to find fresh angles to approach certain things, like tour booking, recording or songwriting, for example.

Since those early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

This is very hard for us to judge. But if you go to our website (http://www.plasticbarricades.eu/ ) you can hear everything we’ve ever released over the last 10 years, there is a lot of diversity in there.

Would you say your sound organically grows and evolves or moves more because the band deliberately goes out to try new things?

I would say it’s both. We all tend to get bored very quickly, so we do like to experiment. At the same time we are growing as musicians and people, so that reflects in the music for sure.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating?

Kurt Cobain and his sincerity definitely had a big impact on me personally and on PB as a band. But also the staggering emotional intent of The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Razorlight, Coldplay, Muse, Biffy Clyro and others.

How does the songwriting process work within the band?

There are two main approaches…record the jam, then edit the bits we like and rework them into a song. This is how several songs on Mechanics of Life LP were conceived. But most of the time it is a chord progression and a vocal melody with lyrics. The song has a title and the meaning well before it is finished musically.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

The world around us has so many inspiring and thought-provoking stories, that all you have to do is just let them in, absorb and breathe them into songs. But some songs of the Mechanics of Life album have been inspired by the genius of Hemingway, Orwell, Huxley, Murakami and others.

Could you give us some background to your new album?

Mechanics of Life, released digitally worldwide on the 14th of September, is a culmination of about 3 years of work in our backyard Shed Studio. It is a collection of 11 stories that take the listeners through the world we live in today, gently poke them and ask them to step up their game, go out and make a difference. Like our dear Dani (bass guitar) once said – “Humans didn’t come with a manual, so we came up with one“.

How about a closer insight to the themes behind it and its songs?

The album starts with the song we usually end our gigs with called How Goldfish Grow. It is based on a simple fact that if you take a goldfish and you find a big tank for it – it will grow BIG! The environment affects the size of the goldfish, the same way as our environment affect our own growth. There is a funny animated music video for this song on our YouTube channel. Then we sing about artificial intelligence helping humans get their s**** together (Singularity-2045), being able to reinvent yourselves again and again (Our Favourite Delusions), caring about the environment and throwing all the mindless consumerism away (Be the Change), looking back and overthinking it instead of moving forward (Around the Sun), searching for meaning (Needles in Haystacks), shining a light to show others the way (Shine!), finding the one intended for you (Half of your Soul), Big pharma conspiracy (Medicine Man) and mental illness (Voices). The last song of the LP – Masterminds – kind of summarises the whole experience, reminding everyone that they are the ones responsible for the things happening around them – and they can take back control!

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

We usually have basic parts in place (guitars, bass, drums, vocals) but we do add textures and layers on the go, depending on what the actual song needs. It is interesting how different the same song can sound live vs. recorded. We try to work with the recording, giving the song everything it deserves. Sometimes it is pretty hard to figure those things out, so this arrangement process can take months.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably a favourite aspect to the band?

We try to gig as much as we can, playing shows all around the country. I believe that any band needs to go through a lot of Level 1 gigs before they will be capable of playing bigger stages and appreciating the unique opportunities they are getting. It is like building a structurally solid house from the ground up – you can only start working on interior design when the rest is in place. Unlike so many other bands, each gig we tell stories, because we want our audience to think about certain things, then come home, go to sleep and wake up with this brilliant idea, maybe a purpose, maybe just a promise to oneself. Our gigs are less about drinking and jumping around and more about the inner dialogue.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it? Are there definitely the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?

I do believe that nothing worth doing in life is ever easy. Music needs to come from the heart. You also need people around you with big hearts and bright shining eyes. Then even if you are lost in the dark, they will illuminate the way. It is not easy at all – but it is still the best job in the world!

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something key to increasing success with those which fail to make it work are simply lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage or is it ultimately more of a curse?

Knowledge is key obviously. My friend was recently talking to me about SEO (Search engine optimization). For years I thought that is all about putting the right keywords to the right articles. It is so so so much more than that. Internet is a vice and a virtue, and it all depends on whether a band can accept that all that social media work is part of the deal. You can write brilliant songs and even record them nicely, but if you need to share them with the world – you have to work very hard for it.

A big thanks Dan for sharing your time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

It is a very special time in Plastic Barricades camp. Our Mechanics of Life album finally came out and we will be touring UK on and off till the end of October. We will be very happy to see you guys there! Meanwhile, here are all the links:

And here is how a goldfish can conquer the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYpBYXMzwOg

Mechanics of Life album OUT on iTunes and Spotify on the 14th of September!

You can hear the album here: https://open.spotify.com/album/71tNyY0qX5fNgTsoXD0r3t

You can download our full press-kit with 320kbit mp3s, artwork, lyrics and HQ pictures at https://goo.gl/ogBdjm

Tour dates: http://www.plasticbarricades.eu/index.php/live

http://plasticbarricades.co.uk    https://www.instagram.com/plasticbarricades/

https://facebook.com/plasticbarricades    https://soundcloud.com/plasticbarricades

Check out our Plastic Barricades album review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/plastic-barricades-mechanics-of-life/

Pete RingMaster 28/09/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Unbridled arousals and stomps: exploring The Conniption Fits.

The Conniption Fits_RingMasterReview

Formed in 2004, The Conniption Fits create their own ear catching mix of alternative, progressive, and indie pop; rock ‘n’ roll which rouses the senses and imagination and has so across a host of releases. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Silversun Pickups, U2, The Police, and David Bowie and having shared stages with artists such as Weezer, Panic at the Disco, Kings Of Leon, Train, 3 Doors Down, Fastball, Mighty Bosstones, 7 Mary Three, Blue Oyster Cult, Mountain, Warrant, and Cinderella among many over time, the New Hampshire hailing trio make a noise which easily sparks the appetite. Grabbing the chance to learn more about the band, we had the pleasure of chatting with member and The Conniption Fits co-founder Stevens.

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you all together?

That’s a long story.  I’m Stevens Blanchard, lead singer guitar player for The Conniption Fits.  The drummer, Shawn Snyder and I met back when we were kids.  My current band needed a drummer and he was a friend of a friend, not to mention a fantastic drummer with tons of attitude.  When that band broke up, we founded The Conniption Fits.  Jamie Hosley, or bass player, came along when we were looking for a new bassist.  Again, he had a reputation as being “the man” when it comes to bass, naturally we had to have him.

So The Conniption Fits is not the first band for you? Has previous projects had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

I think I just answered that above, but yes.  We had a previous band, Motorplant, which did quite well for about 8 years.  You can still find all of the music that Motorplant produced all over the web including iTunes and Spotify.  When Motorplant disbanded, we wanted to head in a slightly more alternative direction.

What inspired the band name?

If the conniption fits, wear it.

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

Far from it…We just enjoy playing and entertaining.  As far as the sound goes, I just want to create ear candy.  Songs with depth sonically and lyrically that are accessible and a bit unpredictable at the same time.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

Always evolving…You can tell album to album.  Every record seems to represent where our minds were at musically at that period of time.  I’m always hearing new bands that are doing really cool things that we want to incorporate into our own stuff.  I’d say we listen as much, or more, than we play.

TCF2Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

We deliberately try new things.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  On our second album, A Heaping Helping of Perspective the guys thought it would be cool if we recorded live without a click track.  I hated the idea, being a stickler for tempo.  It led to a different album and different songs for sure.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

Too many to mention, from Jazz to Metal…Speaking for myself I’d say bands like Nothing But Thieves, The Shins, Bear Hands, Coldplay, Eve6, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Kongos…  I love creative rock/pop/alternative songs that still have a hook, but avoid the same four chords and progressions that are so typical.

Is there a particular process to the band’s songwriting?

I am usually the idea man then we flush it out as a group.  Sometimes I’ll record the whole song then we will replace the drums and bass later. I’m into results; I don’t care how we get there.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

Life; I’ll sing lyric variations to a demo while I’m out for a run.  I usually find cool ideas that way.  I also hear the parts that suck and need to be changed.

Can you give us some background to your latest release?

I Need You (Ay-O) is an old relate that became new again when it started treating on-line. We’ve always loved the song and are happy to have it finally breaking through the “clutter”.

Give us some insight to its theme.

I need you is about wanting to leave a relationship, but continuing to be drawn back in; then dealing with the fact that needing somebody can be for very different reasons.

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

I own the studio we record in.  It’s an amazing luxury because we are not “on the clock” burning money.  So we just show up with nothing and play.  Often I’ll have scraps of ideas ready to jump off from.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?

Yeah, live is where we bring it.  We entertain.  We always have a great time and that usually transfers to the audience.  It’s also the only real way we’ve made any money.  So we play live to survive, and we love it.

It is not easy for any band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?TCF_RingMasterReview

Not easy, but work hard and offer something great.  It doesn’t even have to be unique, just great.  Make people say “holy shit!”, and you’ll do fine.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?

The internet grants everyone access, even the garbage.  I think we handle it well, but there is that constant drive needed to stand out in all the noise.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Check out our website, http://www.conniptionfits.com/ to listen to all of our songs for free and look for our new EP this summer!

https://www.facebook.com/conniptionfits/  https://twitter.com/conniption_fits

Pete RingMaster

The Ringmaster Review 01/07/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Mark Morriss – A Flash of Darkness

Mark Morriss

     The Bluetones was a band which never really grabbed our attention, certainly nudging it numerous times across their thirteen hit singles and three Top Ten albums, but never making that incisive move to enthral as they did so many others. Former band frontman Mark Morriss though has had little problem managing to not only awaken but gripping that focus with his second solo album A Flash of Darkness. Consisting of eleven provocative flights of imaginative indie pop with a folk underbelly and soaked in evocative colour, it is a mesmeric adventure bounding eagerly and vivaciously through reflective and tempering shadows. Released via Acid Jazz Records, A Flash of Darkness is a masterful seduction and for our minds the best thing the singer songwriter has unveiled.

     The album follows Morriss’ debut album Memory Muscle of 2008, a folk-infused encounter featuring string arrangements from the legendary composer David Arnold which never really rustled up major attention. From the splitting up of The Bluetones in 2011, Morriss has engaged in successful solo tours as well as writing and performing with Matt Berry on his recordings and shows as well as creating his own prog outfit The Maypoles and writing music for David Walliams’ award winning Children’s audio books. A Flash of Darkness continues the musician’s solo adventure with a smile and swagger which enlivens the sounds and invention rippling through the release, the latter aspect a subtle coaxing rather than the loud toxicity you feel it might have been in someone else’s hands.

    The title track opens up the proposition, a song one originally written for a short-lived musical project of Morriss and Berry 1656207_635396076509138_2127819875_ncalled The Swedish Twins. A sultry Morricone bred call and ambience wraps the ears first, tower bells and whistles sculpting the scenery before the song falls into a sixties pop tasting embrace with the recognisable tones of Morriss adding their warmth to the climate. That mentioned vaunt soaks the song, a brass jazz temptation teasing greater emotion the way of the track whilst the tango of guitar invention and heated harmonies only intensify the virulently irresistible bait. Visually evocative and tenderly commanding, the opener is a sensational slice of songwriting, an artistic adventure to set things off on a real high.

    Whereas you can almost add a touch of The Wonder Stuff to the first song, its predecessor Consuela with its gentler yet no less infectious presence, has an eighties flavouring which induces thoughts of The Bluebells and occasionally The Lightning Seeds. Keys add further romance to the persuasion alongside that offered by the melodies and excellent vocal expression. Potent in sound and draped in provocative imagination fuelled hues, the track takes the passions by the hands and whisks them around that summer drenched eighties dancefloor with elegance and contagion before making way for the folkier and rhythmically punchy Guilty Again. A piano crafted beauty immediately kisses thoughts as vocals and a rhythmic prodding skirts its elegance but as with all songs it is one facet of evolving and expanding adventures. Like a lingering smooch, the track strolls with a boisterous gait flinging its happy melodies and hooks around with joyous enterprise to invite and ignite the same pleasure in its recipient.

    Both the mesmeric It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time and the enjoyable cover of The Shins’ Pink Bullets engage and treat with resourceful radiance and splendour, though neither can grip the same high level as previous songs. Despite that neither leaves satisfaction empty or provides weak enticement, diversity and ideas persistently leading the imagination into a submissive grin whilst the next infection under the guise of Low Company unveils an enveloping breeze of lyrical and melodic suasion in another sixties/seventies air to seduce from start to finish.

    Life Without F(r)iction  with its country twang is the next to lift feet from the floor, its bouncy heart unfussy and impossibly tempting before the best song on the album, This Is The Lie (and That’s The Truth), steps up to run its addiction coated fingers through the passions. An acoustic croon with Morriss offering a minimalistic lyrical and musical bewitchment, the track is pure aural manna, additional sirenesque harmonies and small bursts of energy bringing a creative virulence upon ears and emotions. It’s tempting borders on molestation but is simply melodic alchemy at play, the same toxin running through the veins of Space Cadet. The song with a wider brush of sounds and invention smothers the ears in a celestial ambience around thick and deeply permeating melodies, the result another exceptional fascination.

    The album closes with firstly another cover, this of Kavinsky’s Nightcall, which without earning the same ardour as the original material still leaves emotions enthralled, and the slow burning Sleep Song, an exceptional track which took time to make its strongest case but over time evolved into another big anthemic highlight. The pair closes up A Flash of Darkness in fine and endearing fashion leaving a return into the release a demanding option, a choice consistently rewarded each and every time by Morriss in one of the early albums of the year. Whether The Bluetones is a lure or not for you, this is one pop album you must not bypass without delving deeply into.

http://www.markmorrissmusic.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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