Exclusive Interview with London Rock Duo: Plastic People

Plastic People are a brand new rock duo from London and they’re bringing no nonsense rock ‘n’ roll back into the spotlight. They play modern blues/garage rock and with a band this young and with tunes this sharp, the sky is the limit for these guys.

If you put Jimi Hendrix on lead vocals and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on lead guitar, you might end up with something a bit like Plastic People. The band just released their debut single, “Never Let Me Know” and I dare you to listen to it just once. Its bouncing bass groove, bluesy vocals, slick drums, and sleazy guitar riffs won’t leave your head for days and it’ll leave you thirsty for more.

Plastic People consists of Dave Bardon (guitar) and Sam Silue (vocals, guitar). I interviewed the guys after their recent Slacker Night gig at London’s Omeara. We talked about the band’s earliest music memories, their drunken formation, their writing process and influences, the best song of the last five years, the fate of guitar music, their future plans, and much more.

How long have you guys been playing music individually?

Sam: I started playing guitar when I was 7 or 8 years old. I played for a couple of years and my step dad had a bass guitar, so I picked that up for a bit and then it was just too big and I went back to the guitar. I floated around other instruments too.

Dave: Probably about 10 or 11. In high school, I started bands. I’ve just been doing that since 14, playing live and doing shows.

Did you grow up in musical families?

Sam: My mom was always playing music in the house. My step dad was in a band in the 80’s. He brought all of his instruments around. I was always just messing about. My mom always played guitar and clarinet, sang in choirs.

Dave: My dad was a huge Beatles fan, which is amazing. I grew up listening to all that 60’s stuff. He plays in a bluegrass band actually. They play local pubs. It’s a bit of country music with him and his mates. He might even be able to show me a few licks!

Do you remember your first memories of music?

Dave: I know mine. I saw a clip of The Beatles doing “She Loves You.” It was a Manchester ABC clip from like 1963. It just looked like they were having so much fun. I was like “I could do that. That would be a good job.”

Sam: I think when I was in primary school, my mom would have Darkside Of The Moon on while I was eating my cereal. It would be like “The Great Gig In The Sky.” That was the first time where I was like holy fuck!

Dave: (laughs) David Gilmour and Roger Waters doing this conceptual art and then you eating your cereal!

Do you remember the first album that you bought or the first bands that you got into on your own, not from your parents?

Sam: It was Rage Against The Machine for me. I don’t even know how I came about it. I think a friend of mine was playing it in his house.

That’s a big jump from Pink Floyd.

Sam: Yeah I know, but I always listened to Hendrix and he was the biggest inspiration. The Vines as well after that. Actually, the first album that I bought was an Outkast album.

Dave: I think mine might have been something like The Kaiser Chiefs or something like the first Arctic Monkeys record. That kind of wave of bands. I remember having the Razorlight first album. I was like 11. But I was still into things like Iyaz – “Replay” at that point. Do you know what I mean? I didn’t really know. It was just this was the music that was around.

Are there any bands that you’re really embarrassed about now that you used to listen to?

Sam: I had that Razorlight album too.

Dave: Is Jack Johnson a really bad one?

That’s pretty bad.

Dave: Is that bad? Yeah because I think it’s dreadful now, but for a minute I thought that was acceptable.

Sam: I think I just try to block them out.

Dave: I just pretend that I listened to The Strokes’ first album all the time.

Sam: When I was nine, I had an MP3 player and I only had enough room for one album and it was that album.

How did you two meet each other?

Dave: At school. We both were in the same year group, so we would’ve been at school together playing music, but in the band class, after school thing.

Sam: I was playing Nirvana.

Dave: I was pretty into my Oasis and Blur and that stuff. I went through that phase of like ‘Oasis are the best band ever!’

I was definitely there too.

Dave: Yeah you gotta go there. I was in a band for 3 years and then that ended in February last year.

That was The Turning right? I got a CD of your mini album when you were crowdfunding about two of three years ago.

Dave: There was a lot of things that happened in that band. If I’m totally honest, The Strypes thing happened and we were really into that and we loved what they were doing. We toured with those guys and we thought there was some sort of similarities. Josh is still today one of my best friends. We were kind of in that circle, but then we never really fit in with it or probably didn’t really want to. It was a lot of trying out different things and then two of the lads went to university and Luke went to play with Touts. Me and Luke were gonna try and do something after The Turning split, but it kind of just didn’t happen. Me and him [Sam] were just left out of the party. Everyone had gone to uni and was doing their thing and it was just like “Oh yeah, you!”

Sam: We lived around the corner from each other! And we wrote some songs.

Dave: We ran to the bedroom and wrote some songs in February of last year.

Sam: I used to run a bar. It was late and I was closing up. It was a tennis club. There was no one in there and he [Dave] was like “I need a drink.”

Dave: We just got a bit pissed and we were like “we should start a band!” It was like “let’s do a shot!”

Sam: We wrote down plans of what were gonna sound like and when we were gonna do things. I still have the plans.

How much material came from all that?

Dave: Because of The Turning stuff, I was quite conscious that I didn’t want to go straight out with a band until I felt like we had the songs. In fact, it kind of relates to the name a little bit. I found once you start playing live, your time becomes more “How are we gonna get to this gig? How are we gonna put petrol in the van? How are we gonna get a van?” So, I wanted to make sure that we had enough songs that by the time we started playing. So, what we did was we sent the stuff to a producer called Jay Reynolds and he really liked it. Then, we called in some musician friends from other bands and we recorded “Never Let Me Know.” That would’ve been like March. So, we’ve been sitting on that for a while. Josh McClorey from The Strypes plays bass and Oscar Robertson from Hidden Charms plays drums on it.

Josh is such an insane guitar player. It’s amazing that he got to play on Paul Weller’s last album.

Dave: He’s so good. Yeah he’s on the new Weller record too.

Sam: Oh…exclusive. Broke the Internet!

Dave: Fun fact. I don’t actually play on “Never Let Me Know.”

Really?

Dave: We got to the studio and the idea was that Josh was gonna play the bass. It was like “OK cool. Do the bass.” And he did the bass. We were like “while we’ve got you here, do you wanna just put some guitar on it?” So, he plays the solo. You can hear it if you listen back and if you know Josh’s playing.

I’ll have to listen to it again and see if I can tell.

Dave: Yeah have a listen back. He plays the solo on it. We were mixing it and doing the rest of it later after he [Sam] did the vocals and stuff, it was like “I should do something!”, but I wrote it, so it’s cool. I’ll just sit down and listen to the track and call him and go, “what’s that bit you’re doing there?”

So you went into a proper studio to record the songs?

Dave: Yeah. Josh came over to play with us and Oscar as well. Oscar’s a really good friend of ours.

I just saw Oscar with Splashh the other night. They’re a really good band.

Dave: Yeah he’s on tour with Splashh. He’s doing that for a little while and then Hidden Charms…

Hidden Charms are really good too! I’ve seen them twice. Such a great band.

Dave: Yeah we love them. So good.

So, how did you come up with the name, Plastic People?

Dave: It’s a Frank Zappa tune and it’s also a song by a band called Yak. Their song, “Semi-Automatic” is probably the best song of the last five years, but anyway…even before we had a band, we thought the idea of plastic people or a plastic band of people was cool, but I mean what is a band name? You should’ve seen the list! It’s also the name of a club in London.

Do you guys both write together?

Sam: Someone will just come up with a small idea. It’s the sort of thing that you won’t even want to finish on your own. Just take it to the lab and see what we can do. I did the demo for “Never Let Me Know” at home, pretty much the whole song with no vocals and I was like “we’re getting through to something.” I was like “listen to this.” I sort of just wrote the whole thing. I didn’t want to write lyrics to it.

Dave: A lot of the time, it’ll just be like a 30 second thing. We demo and then we build from there. We do the lyrics together. Just sit down with a notepad and a coffee.

Who would you say are your main, shared influences for this band?

Dave: Arctic Monkeys. Black Keys.

Sam: Queens Of The Stone Age.

Dave: White Stripes. Anything Jack White does. I guess blues-based modern rock.

I think Gigslutz said you guys sound like The Black Keys if fronted by Carl and Pete. I don’t know if I hear the Libertines so much though.

Dave: Yeah I don’t hear that, but there are worse comparisons.

Yeah, The Black Keys makes more sense though. I actually immediately thought of Jimi Hendrix when I heard your voice.

Sam: Yeah I get that a lot. I’ll take it.

Dave: He did alright. He shifted a few units.

Sam: I had someone the other day saw you’re like Prince and Hendrix’s love child. I was like, “that’s kind of a weird thing to say.”

Dave: That’s a bit too nice.

Sam: I was like, “I’ll take it!”

You listened to Hendrix a lot didn’t you?

Sam: Yeah, my mom was a big fan.

Dave: If you like guitar music, you can’t not like Jimi Hendrix. It’s like with Led Zeppelin and The Stones. You can pretend you don’t like those guys, like The Beatles.

You’ve only played 5 gigs. Have they gone pretty well and are you used to playing together now?

Sam: It just felt so normal. Also because we’ve been writing for a year or however long before we even played our first gig and even just talking about it every now and then. It felt like we already played.

Dave: I think with the other band, the songs weren’t written, they weren’t arranged, so you’d turn up with something and jam it out, play it live, kind of like the old school way, but this time around, it was kind of a bit more like, we’ve got the song recorded, so it’s a case of just learning it, getting it to sound right, and making sure the set flows. It’s less of the worries of “here’s a song I’d written on my acoustic guitar.”

How do you feel about being a duo or are you not restricting it to that yet?

Dave: I don’t know. If good musicians come about, we’re open to it. If anyone’s got good ideas, it’s like “yeah throw it in.” We’ll send them the demos if they like them.

What do you think about all these older, veteran musicians saying that guitar music is dead?

Dave: I think unfortunately it’s not as culturally important as it used to be in the 60’s, but there’s still enough of us.

Sam: They were doing it because they wanted to make music and I guess now it’s more historic, so you can live with perspective. What we’re doing is what they were doing, which is geting a band together.

It might also just be the fact that every generation says things aren’t as good as they used to be.

Dave: I think maybe the output wasn’t as busy as it is now. Also, I think you had the 60’s and all of its great bands and you had the 70’s and I think people filter out the crap stuff and just remember what you want to remember. Whatever they say is fine. They did it, but what would they do if they were 21? That’s what I would ask them. They would probably still start a band.

Do you want to give any shoutouts to any new bands that you’re into?

Both: The Pale White

Dave: Black Honey

Sam: Touts

Dave: Timber Timbre

Dave: Alexandra Savior. We both saw her at Rough Trade.

Do you guys know which song is going to be your next single?

Dave: No. We’ve got one song that we haven’t started playing yet. Actually, we played it at the first gig and then abandoned it. Gigzlutz gave it a little mention actually.

Sam: It’s quite different.

Dave: It’s a four to the floor rock, dance tune. It’s probably the poppiest thing we’ll ever do…at the moment. I feel like we have to wait for that one. I don’t know if we need to do a bit more recording first. We recorded a load of tunes and out of those, there’s probably 3 that we still like and then we wrote more. The studio thing is what I love. I love playing live, don’t get me wrong, but the studio is where it comes to life. Hidden Charms are a really good example of how much you can do off very little. They put out an EP and like 5 singles. I feel like nowadays with the singles market, you can definitely get moving.

Do you have any gigs lined up for the near future?

Dave: We’re doing Camden Rocks Festival [on June 3rd], which is gonna be good and then we’ll see what happens.

Last question. When would you define the band as a success?

Dave: Just not having to work.

Sam: To just be doing music.

Dave: Not having to do our shitty bar jobs.

Sam: To be in our own space where we can play our music.

Dave: I’d be happy in the studio. Having a band. Touring with the band for half the year.

Sam: That’s a successful musician. A space where you can do you own music and it’s like your office, but it’s not work.

Dave: To just to be able to keep writing. Keep touring. Keep meeting people. I think success finds you. The writing is where we’re high-fiving each other. Listening back to your stuff and being really happy with it is just as fulfilling as a good gig. Gigs are dependent on so many factors that have nothing to do with writing a song. 


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