Nothing gets me more excited when I come across a band from New England that is making music that is real and from the heart. That is exactly how I feel about the band from Boston by the name of PLANK. I caught a listen of these guys from their single, “She’s My Pusher.” These guys make rock music, period. They also have thousands of fans and can pack most venues that they play. It was a like a breath of fresh air when I heard the ferocious, aggressive, but appealing music that PLANK is making. PLANK is the perfect band to feature after we were inundated with the watered down and manufactured mainstream at the Grammy’s on Sunday. If it were up to the industry they would have us all believe there are only 15-20 acts worth hearing. PLANK & Stoli are here to say that is bull%$#@!
Stoli: How are you guys feeling about this wild winter we are having in New England?
PLANK: What snow? What ice? Why are all of those people lining up to jump off the Tobin Bridge? Actually it hasn’t really effected us much. We’ve had some great shows with packed houses and very energetic crowds ready to party with us and blow off some steam while it’s been a blizzard outside. What makes it great is that by the Spring when the weather changes people are going to be ready to go nuts, like caged animals being set loose, and those are the crowds we live to perform in front of. Expect some wild Plank shows once the weather warms up!
Stoli: Let us know how you came together and why you named the band PLANK?
PLANK: Donnie and Jim had been working together on a project with a different second guitarist and singer. At the time Ara and Cameron’s band had just dismantled. Jim gave Ara a call to put some tracks down on what they were working on. From there it continued until we decided that it was in the best interest of the music to replace a few members. This found Ara and Cameron once again working together and eventually adding Dan to the mix. From there….history!
As far as the name, during it’s initial inception we had no name. Ara had noticed a floor board with the number “63” on it and said how about Plank63. No one loved or hated it but all agreed we’d come up with something new. 8 years later we simply dropped the “63”.
Stoli: How much time per week is devoted to the band and where do you rehearse?
PLANK: It’s all the time. There is no “off switch” for us. When you have a real passion for music and songwriting it’s always with you. When we’re not onstage, not in the recording studio and not practicing together then we’re always doing something in the background. Working on new song ideas, thinking of ways to mix up the live shows, looking into marketing the band and the music, whatever we have to do. The fun is when you wake up in the middle of the night with a song idea and you torture the rest of the house at 3am when you grab your guitar.
We’ve been nomads this past year, moving from studio to studio, one crazy story after another for why we’ve moved again and again. From floods, or the building got sold, or we’re too loud for the neighbors… but we currently practice very loudly in Charlestown, MA.
Stoli: What do you guys feel PLANK offers rock music today that it is missing?
PLANK: Something real. Something authentic. Something you can sink your teeth into. Love us or hate us, we’re a real rock band, straight down to the bone. We’re not out to change the world, we’re just out to rock the hell out of it. We don’t have any gimmicks, we don’t care about trends or what anyone else sounds like. We know that some bands make the same statement, but with us it’s actually true. We’re far more influenced by the great artists and bands from the 70s and 80s who pioneered rock music than anyone who is out today, but even then we don’t sound like those bands who influenced us. We just know to take our lessons from the great rock bands in history who wrote great songs that will last forever and performed shows that were larger than life. So many bands get lost in trying to sound like their idols or trying to be a product and over think what and who they are so much that it kills the music and it just seems like plastic. We’re just focused on writing good solid catchy songs, the kind of stuff that we would want to listen to and think is missing on the radio. We simply write what we thinks sounds good.
We treat our live performances like we’re on an arena stage, no matter where we are. It’s about having fun and connecting with everyone in the room that’s there with us. We’ve had a motto in this band since the very beginning, “give it all and leave everything on the stage”. There are no “piped-in” vocals or anything fake. We’re just pure raw energy, sometimes tight, sometimes sloppy, depending on how much beer and JD everyone drank, but always a great time for everyone in the room.
Stoli: I got hooked on you guys thru “She’s My Pusher.” Please explain what that song means and what inspired you to write it?
PLANK: Cool! Good to know we hooked another one! That song seems to catch the ears of many people who hear it. The music came first. It actually started out as a very different song, but it just wasn’t coming together. Donnie came to practice one night with this raunchy groove that ended up being the new music for the verse and it sparked a whole new wave of creativity. It’s funny how that happens. It started to sound like what we’ve been calling “stripper rock”. Something to get the girls hips shaking and makes people want to move. You just can’t go wrong with that.
The song is about addiction to whatever owns you. Whatever it is that burns your soul, good or bad. The drink, the women, the sex, a fetish, a need for speed… you name it. You’re the slave and they are the master. It takes control of you, and no matter what you do, you know you’ll give in every single time. She’s your pusher, and you’re just a slave on the chain.
Stoli: You guys have been putting out singles in preparation for the album. Do you ever see bands skipping the album and just putting out singles on a regular basis?
PLANK: It’s actually a trend that is starting to happen. The music industry is constantly evolving, and things have drastically changed before our very eyes in the past few years. CD sales are way down while digital distribution online is now the new standard in selling music. It’s an mp3 world now. It’s a strange adjustment, because now while artists still continue to release new albums on CD, it’s really about releasing new singles digitally since the listening public seems to be buying one song at a time. Many established artists are starting their own labels simply because they control their own digital sales. When we first started working with Beau Hill as our producer we were focussed on putting together our next CD, and he was the one who got us to focus on writing and recording each song as it’s own beast, instead of focussing on the CD itself. Turned out to be great advice a lot of artists could use as the industry continues to evolve.
Stoli: When can we expect the album and where have you been doing most of the recording?
PLANK: The album is coming. We’re recording more this Spring. Most songs will be available through iTunes and other download sites as we finish each one. For us it’s all about each song being strong on it’s own and not writing and recording any “filler” songs or “b-sides” just to fill up a CD.
We have recorded in a few different locations throughout the Boston area but always using ProTools to keep the sound consistent. Then in the end, Beau Hill takes over with the magic that he does.
Stoli: What is your process to making a song, do the lyrics or the instrumentals come first?
PLANK: We really don’t have any kind of formula, and that’s what makes it fun and unpredictable. Everyone throws in their ideas and you never know where or who it’s going to come from. Sometimes it’s a chorus first, sometimes it’s just a groove. Often Donnie or Dan as the guitarists will come to practice with something they’ve been working on and the band collectively just turns it into a song. Cameron writes the melodies and lyrics. Everyone has a voice and speaks up when the inspiration hits them. Some songs come together fast, and some get rewritten a bunch of times until they have what it takes to be a Plank tune. Rule #1 with us when working on a tune, leave your ego at the door and always do what’s best for the song.
Stoli: Being that you guys are gaining new fans daily, how does it feel when you hear from a fan that is not friends or family?
PLANK: We love it. Our fans are a huge part of the band. They’re a huge part of what drives us. As an example, we’ve been changing our show bookings lately, hitting the stage earlier on purpose so that it gives us more time to hang out with our crowd after the show. It’s great hearing from new fans because it means that our music is spreading out farther and farther, and reaching new audiences. It also means that our music is something that is missing out there, and connecting to people. It was an amazing experience the first time we toured and played in cities and states we had never been to, meeting new fans who had never seen us before but knew our songs. You can never get enough of that.
Stoli: You guys are all over the Internet. What site would you say is best for gaining new fans, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc?
PLANK: It used to be Myspace. We tore that site up as a marketing tool and built a big fan base, which helped out a ton when we went out on tour in other parts of the country. But we all know that Facebook pretty much killed Myspace. We believe on being everywhere and anywhere at all times. Facebook, Twitter, Online radio stations, online magazines and music blogs, websites dedicated to promoting bands and artists… you name it, we do it. Check us out on www.plankband.com for more info on where you can find us.
Stoli: Do you guys work day jobs and if so do you hope to one day do music full time?
PLANK: Everybody in the band works full time jobs. It’s the harsh reality of the industry that unless you’re raking in the dough then you need to have a 2nd career beyond being the artist. Most people who aren’t in the industry don’t realize that there are many signed bands who still have support jobs outside of their music career to support themselves. Since the first day we put this band together our goal was to be able to do this as a full time career without having a support job. Stay tuned!
Stoli: Who would you guys rather party with: Charlie Sheen, Hugh Hefner, Lindasy Lohan?
PLANK: Not even a contest. Hugh is the man. He’s a classic and an icon. He knows how to throw a party and he’s got one hell of a guest list that we’d love to be on. A party with Lindsay will only lead you into a date in court, and Charlie would just drink all your drink and use up any other “good stuff” you’ve got.
Stoli: What is coming up for PLANK and where can we follow you online?
PLANK: We’re currently writing new music and prepping to go back into the studio to record again by the spring, and gearing up for some kickass shows this spring and summer.