BEYERS DE VOS
Plush visited Pretoria recently to promote their latest album, Plush. Perdeby sat down with Rory Eliot, Carl Wegelin and Emelio Gassibe to chat about their new sound and their hope for new success.
You guys have put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the new album has a new sound. How exactly has your sound changed on the new album?
Rory: You know what, we actually tried really hard to change our sound. And yet the essence of the band, I think, never changes just because it’s everyone’s individual personality that they bring to the band. You can’t change that if you know what I mean. But the sound itself, in terms of the production, especially with a song like “Dancing in the Storm” – we really wanted to try and introduce more of that acoustic, “dancey” element that the likes of Phoenix used, you know? And they’ve got that really kind of upbeat, nice vibe. So I supposed the way [Plush’s sound] changed, the biggest way, is that we’ve introduced more groove, more sort of jam to the sound and a lot more keys and synth and elements like that.
Emelio: And it’s a little more playful.
Rory: It’s just like Emelio says, it’s a little more playful, in the lyrics especially. In the past our lyrics have been quite personal and deep and …
Emelio: Serious. [laughs]
Rory: They’re not always, but kind of. But always some form of message or feeling or emotion. With this [album] some of it’s just storytelling, you know?
Would you say that that’s a result of studying your Masters in songwriting at the Bath Spa University in the UK?
Rory: No, I don’t think that the songwriting course itself changed anything except for the fact that it opened my mind to the fact that there’s so many different ways to approach songwriting. In the past I personally always approached the songwriting in a very particular way. I had kind of written a song in my bedroom, just jammed it out and then brought it to the band, we played it live and then went and recorded it. Whereas in this case, most of the songs weren’t played live and most of the songs had a much bigger influence from the other members of the band. We opened ourselves up to other influences and ideas.
You’ve said that your live performances haven’t quite matched up with the tracks on your three previous albums, how would you say you’ve bridged the gap on Plush?
Carl: [Dominique] and [Devon] were a good start for that. So we’ve got Dominique on keys and accordion so he brings, like, a lot of the production stuff on the album to the live show. And Devon is a great drummer but we’ve mostly been a bit of a jam band, hey. And we still have that, even with our live show being a bit more produced, it’s still a jam. We dig that and we think you guys dig it too.
Rory: We tried to bridge the gap but I still think we haven’t achieved it. We haven’t achieved taking what we do live on stage and putting it on a disc. I don’t think we’ve achieved it.
Rory: Not yet.
Carl: It’s really hard to do that hey.
Rory: Some bands just appeal more on their album and some bands just appeal more live and I suppose that depends on how you approached your music in the first place.
You’ve done a couple of gigs now on tour, how has the response from your audiences been?
Rory: We’re always very happy with the response. One or two gigs we weren’t too entirely happy with the numbers. But, you know, when you’re doing so many gigs and when you’re doing a tour like this, marketing falls through in places and there’s a lot that can influence or determine [numbers] – especially when you hit the varsity towns and you just so happen to hit it on a bad week because there are some big jams going on or whatever the case might be. But we’re really lucky that over the years we’ve developed a really loyal fanbase. So, even when we say we weren’t entirely happy with the numbers I think most bands would be very happy with the numbers.
How was it working with Brian O’Shea on Plush?
Rory: It was great.
Emelio: For us, a big part of the last album [was that] we wanted to get more commercial. Brian is, obviously, well known for getting that in the previous projects that he’s worked on.
Rory: He brings a nice pop-sensibility to his production. Even when he did that first Seether album, that Fragile album that came out, that was when I first became aware of Brian O’Shea and what he did. He managed to take an alternative rock band like Seether, or a hardish rock band, and give it this pop-sensibility and that stuck with them actually ever since. Even more so now than ever.
Can we expect a music video for “What He Fancies” to be out soon?
Rory: We’re hoping to do something for “What He Fancies” because Carl had a fantastic idea which we definitely want to bring to life. With the pressure from our record company, we unfortunately released the song sooner than we would have liked because you want to actually have a music video done and ready to go by that time, you know? Because it really helps as well with the leverage of the song when getting onto radio and so far, with this album, we’ve actually been a little disappointed with the amount of radio-play that we’ve gotten. I mean the varsity stations and Tuks[FM], God bless them always, have always backed us right from the word “go”. They were the first radio station in the country to put Plush on the map in some small little way. And we’re grateful for that because, you know, it keeps us relevant in the right people’s minds – the students. They’re the ones [who] are the buying music and going to the shows. But we definitely hope, we think and believe that the album deserves more play. It [has] good catchy songs and it’s well produced. A lot of heart and soul was poured into it and it comes from a band that’s been around for more than a decade. At what point do the guys sitting in that room go, “F**k, you know what? This could be played on any radio station to be honest. Let’s be fair. And it’s Plush, they’ve been around the block, they’ve paid their dues, let’s f**ken put it on the radio”. I mean, like, what’s that going to hurt anyone? It’s weird, but anyway.
You guys are back on the circuit, any chance we’ll see you at Oppikoppi this year?
Carl: We’re not at Oppikoppi this year, but we applied for all of them (festivals), hey and we’ll take it from there.
Rory: We definitely, definitely want to play at more festivals.
Any plans for a new album?
Rory: No, I don’t think we’re gonna do another album.
Rory: I think from here on out we’re going to move with the times and release singles, you know? And when the time’s right and when we feel the song’s right and when we can get it together, then we will do it. And hopefully we’ll do [it] under our own accord and we’ll be able to release the new [stuff] for nothing.
Carl: We’ve got all the resources of studios, everything that we need, at our fingertips so we’re really just going to day-by-day it. No pressures of, like, let’s make an album. Just going to make music, see where it goes.
Photo: JP Nathrass