Interview with The Plastics


Following the release of their third full-length album; In Threes, we interview The Plastics to chat about the making of the album, the influences of the album and touring overseas.

The Plastics

Your band name is derived from the A-list girl clique in the Mean Girls film. What was it that caused you the settle on The Plastics?

We watched the movie one night and thought how funny would it be if we named ourselves after the group of girls. We are the opposite of them in almost every way so it’s kind of ironic.

It’s been 7 years since the formation of The Plastics. How has the journey been and what do you hope to achieve by the time the band reaches a decade of existence?

The journey has been awesome. We started out this band as an escape from the stale punk and post hardcore genres that were taking over the world and our town and we didn’t know where it would end up and that was the exciting part. All we knew for sure was that we wanted to make music for people like us, who didn’t buy into the mainstream culture but needed a more creative and colourful world than the black T shirt and baggy short wearing punks and metal heads. We were opened up to a whole new world of music to us and we have followed our ears ever since. It has been a liberating experience growing in an organic way to what we are so proud to be part of now. We are a band of friends and brothers. When we jam we see the galaxies open up and share their magic. We want to capture this whimsical magic going forward in our sonic expeditions. Each album is like a home video going back to the headspace we were in at the time. The journey has been epic so far with so many late nights and hilarious tales. We have made some amazing friends along the way.

Emile van Dango joined the band following the release of Pyramid in 2012. How has his presence transformed the band?

Emile has a magnetic aura and when he joined it felt like the band was complete once again. He immediately impressed us with his vocal abilities and his unique melodic style of lead guitar. Personality wise it couldn’t be a better fit and we all have the same sense of humour. We love the energy he brings to stage and we are excited about what is shaping up to be a winning combo for us.

in threes the plastics

In Threes comes three years after the release of Pyramid and it seems it was a conscious decision to take your time in the pre-production and recording process. How was the process different from the previous albums you recorded and what are some of the new things you explored in studio?

The reason it took three years was partly because Juki our old guitarist left the band to go live in Berlin quite soon after we released Pyramid. We spent a year touring the album with various session guitarists ( Ebi Johnston, Giles Sayers) We were even toying with the idea of going back to a three piece at one point but eventually we decided we needed to find someone completely new to our group and that was when we put out the audition call. Emile flew down from Durban to audition and we knew straight away that he was the reason we had waited to find the right person. So now we had to teach him all our songs and only around halfway through that process did we start writing the album. Using our past experience we wanted to be really selective about the songs we ended up putting on the album so we wrote way more than we needed so it took us a long time. We also used three different studios and mixed for about 8 months just tweaking and adding. We wanted to make an album you can listen to 20/30 times and still pick up new little things. The effort was worth it though and we feel like we achieved our goal in making a multi textured and swirling treat of pop psychedelia.

In Threes is more mature whilst also exploring a wider variety of textures and styles than your previous albums. How have you managed the evolution of your sound whilst ensuring that everything that you create is true to The Plastics identity?

We used to be concerned with finding ‘our sound’ and I think it was during the making of pyramid when we opted to put “Underwater Kite” on the album, that we were asking does this fit into our sound and it doesn’t sound like the rest of the album etc. We came to the conclusion that ‘our sound’ is the music we make naturally together without trying to force it in any specific or contrived direction. Our sound is us in a room with our instruments making our brand of music that feels good to us.  After that everything we ever write will be an evolution of our sound because what could be more natural than that?

There are more electronic elements in In Threes which I’d imagine were influenced by Sasha’s production experience and Pascal dabbling in the electronic fields with Yum Yuck. At the same time there is also an exploration of psychedelic rock and roll on In Threes with the most obvious product being the album’s title track. Was this in any way influenced by the emergence of psych in Cape Town?

It honestly all just happened at the same time side by side, what we were listening to after Pyramid was electronic and more psychedelic bands. We soon discovered people starting events like Psych Night and we would go check out what was happening and embraced the seemingly limitless scope that the psychedelic label enables. Don’t forget one of the founding principles of The Plastics is to never quite be pinned down by a limiting genre which was a reaction to the typical genre heavy, closed minded way of more alternative and heavier genres tend to have. So a genre that meant we could sound like anything is really the best way to describe our sound. We want every song to be what it should be without stopping and asking what the rulebook says at this point.

I get the sense that the predominant theme recurring throughout the album is the dynamics of love and relationships. Is there a particular individual or love interest who inspired this? 

No, the songs are often written about metaphorical relationships and people. Thought experiments turned into songs and lyrics.

Since the release of Pyramid the artwork for your music has played a major role in offering an alternative medium which contribute to the overall concepts and themes in your albums. Tell us more about the artwork for In Threes.

We wanted the artwork to be inspired by the songs. Our friend Baden Moir is a really talented guy and we gave him the songs during various staged of the production to get his ideas flowing so when they were all done he sat with the album and came up with the awesome work we used in the end.

Why did you decide to release In Threes for free download online?

We felt we had taken so long that the biggest initial impact we could get would be to let the biggest amount of people hear the music. People will download it and share it anyway so we might as well make sure they are sharing what we want them to share. Not enough people pay for music. We wish they would but life is so expensive as it is and we fully understand why people just opt for downloading the music. It does make being an artist even harder though. That being said we felt by encouraging the album to be shared then people would at least know all the words to the new songs and be up to date. We have a fresh new sound and we want everyone to know it. We will print disks at some point and hopefully vinyl.

Following your debut European tour around this time last year you decided to head to London to launch the album. What are some of the key learnings from your experiences overseas and how did the audiences receive your latest material?

Plan as much as you can as far ahead of time as you can! Touring is very expensive and it helps to plan well. We had a great time on tour and they key is to keep going back but this is also the crux, for a band in South Africa with a currency that’s close to junk status at the moment it makes it very hard. We are considering moving to the UK at some point but there’s a lot of things tying us here as well. We want to be able to tour Europe at least once a year in the future. At the end of the day you’re there with your best friends making music and seeing the sites and having experiences what could be better? The audiences in the UK are very nice to us and we felt welcomed there straight away with bands offering us opening slots and club owners making us offers as well, the problem? We don’t live there so “Ah man I’ve got a great spot for you in two weeks on the bill with these guys” becomes “Ah man sorry we are going back now and will only return in a year.” So the key is actually to be there to take up the opportunities that get presented. Or win the lotto.

Are there any music videos planned for In Threes? Which tracks and when can we expect these?

Yes we are planning videos for “All I Really Want” “Sunscream” “Alona” and “The New” maybe more!

Download In Threes by The Plastics on Bandcamp

All photography courtesy Jason Paul Hermann


About Author

Founder | Failed Musician | Digital Devotee | Unjournalist | Successful Thief | "Nothing Is Original. Steal Like An Artist"