Interview: Plastic House
Here at MCR Live, we’re hugely in favour of supporting upcoming artists. This month’s Joey Bricks show saw Manchester band Plastic House (Ollie, Robbie, Jake and James) come into the studio for an exclusive interview.
First of all, I want to start from the roots, from where it all began. How did you guys become Plastic House? What is the story…
Back in the ends ay boys… back in Stockport. It’s been ages now hasn’t it, like 2012 or something. Some of us were like 16 just turning 17 and were actually in a different band at the time, so we didn’t have Robbie.
Well, we say it was a band, but it wasn’t really. It was more just us jamming together like we’d just play our instruments and play in the odd pub.
So how do all your influences relate with each other? A lot of bands grow up on the same things or they all had a lot of different things, are there any similarities or contrasts between your influences?
I think there’s a lot of contrasts. So when I was a kid growing up I’d listen to a lot of hard rock, I was dead into Led Zeppelin and I obviously had my metal phase.
These two were both moshers and me and Podders (Ollie) we were all like football and Oasis.
So you split in between two of your early influences, can you hear that in your music?
There’s a medium where we all meet and there are bands that we all like but then there are extremes on other sides. So Ollie’s more into pop music. Then Robbie likes a lot of hip-hop, James likes a lot of metal and I’m into indie stuff. But we all meet in the middle and that’s what Plastic House sounds like.
Where does the creative process work in that, are you conscious of your influences coming in? Is it someone saying I want to do a bit of this or a bit of that?
It depends from instrument to instrument. There are times where we’ll be listening to the radio and Jacob will say that sounds really cool we’ll try to put that into something new of our own. But I think we haven’t really thought about it, we just do our own thing.
It’s more like after a song, I’ll listen back to what I’ve done and heard my influences in it. It’s never a conscious thing for me, it’s like a melting pot of what I listen to. It also depends on how we write the song. Some of them are written by just Ollie on his own on an acoustic, some are written all four of us in a room, some might just be 2 or 3 of us or whatever. It varies song to song.
That’s why the tracks sound so different. With ‘I believe in you’, I brought the song to Jake and we just put all the sounds together. But if you listen to ‘hold on’, that’s completely the opposite. Like we wrote that in about 10 minutes just all of us in a room, it’s just the raw sound.
That’s very genuine. A lot of the time when you ask this question, you get this very artsy answer where they were ‘just struck by something altogether’ but it sounds very natural with you, there’s no fighting for credit.
There’s always a moment, whatever the process is, where you all just look at each other like this is what we’re looking for.
Thinking on the flip side of that, are you ever critical of each other? Will you guys tell each other, I’m not feeling that or this isn’t for me?
That’s the process of it. I feel like that’s where we’re different to most other bands because we don’t just do our own instrument. If I go to do my take, it’s not just me that has input on that, we all have an input on what the vocals sound like. The same goes for drums and guitar.
We all dabble a little bit too, so everyone can give an opinion on whoever’s part.
So it’s fair to say you guys had a bit of a madness this year. A very big and up and coming year and you did a few festivals this summer. So, what were they? And most importantly, what was it like getting on the festival scene?
It was good man, it’s good playing outside, isn’t it. They were still smaller festivals, but because of where we’re at now, we’re playing good slots. So we’ve got decent crowds and we’ve played with a couple of decent bands like Cabbage and The Blinders. It’s good to play with bands that are clearly going somewhere and have a lot of buzz about them.
It’s just a good day out. You get your own little marquee and snacks and stuff… we’re just sat there eating McCoys all day. (laughs)
You guys played at one of Manchester’s most iconic venues last year which was The Deaf Institute. I mean that venue has held some of the greatest artists that have walked the country and the planet. So what was it like to play a headline gig there?
It was pretty mad for us. We sold out The Ruby Lounge a couple of months before so we wanted something that was as prestigious as that. So we thought that was the best choice, and then we sold the gig out the week before.
It looked nice too it’s a good room. The sound too, it sounds good, it looks nice, it was just mint. Everyone’s heard of it as well!
Being involved in the tour with these guys (Cabbage) and being in the green room with these artists, it must be beneficial to talk to these people and be involved and associate with them. Do you feel the benefits of it?
Yeah well, it’s just getting a bit of insight for Plastic House. Like we only had one day with them so we just got as much out of them as we could… and as many free beers as possible.
The scene you guys fall into has been around for a very long time. I’ve watched scenes diversify over time and often you see artists transfer from scene to scene, maybe keeping themselves relevant or maybe it’s where their musical priorities lye and their taste develops and such. I want to know what you guys think the health of the scene you guys play in is saying at the moment.
Probably not as strong as it’s ever been but I feel as though it’s one of those where it disappears for a bit but never completely vanishes. I mean it’s been around for so long. It’s clearly not one of those genres that’s around for 6 months then never makes it again.
It waves as well does it. It’s like fashion like something will be in fashion 30 years ago and then it comes back in fashion even more so than it ever was. You can see it in loads of different genres. Like, pop punk is coming back massively now and different styles of rap and trap rap. It definitely evolves into a bigger level.
Do you think there’s room for more diversity in the sound? Do you think the scene might need to diversify?
There’s always room for diversification in music, and people trying new things or it doesn’t evolve. It will become stagnant. Noone wants to hear the same thing they’ve already heard.
When you take away all the different sounds and instrumentation, it’s still got to be a good song. Like we could take it all and play it on a load of folk instruments and people would say we’re a folk band, but it’s still the same song. It’s the sounds that make people put you in that genre.
There is a thing in this country where I think we’ve always had a divided youth culture when it comes to the dominant music featuring at the time. We’ve always had the perceived indie rock and all of its offshoots, and then we’ve had people in ‘urban music’ and a big movement of dance movement recently.
Do you think the scene you guys are in still has the power it had in the early 2000’s? And do you think it’s in competition with the new emerging genres that take over the radio stations?
I’d say when you listen to the radio and listen for bands in the same sort of thing as us, 9 times out of 10 it’s not a new band. It’s your Liam Gallagher’s or Stone Roses, you don’t necessarily hear lots of new indie bands coming through. Whereas on the flip side with rap, that’s all new artists like with Lil Pump and Post Malone. I feel like that’s creating more of a fresher vibe than our genre.
Our genre is like 40 years old now, like it’s people getting back together now and reunion gigs. It’s hard for a new band to come through. But with the whole urban and dance music thing, when it was coming out a couple of years ago, was really cool and fresh. And once it becomes popular and people notice that it’s cool, it gets a lot of uncool people jump on it. Things come in a circle. So sometimes it might be a good thing to not be on that side of it and be on the side that looks like it’s not got the energy because eventually, all the forward-looking people don’t want to be on the side that is mainstream.
What do you guys think of the internet when it comes to music? You’ve said that internet platforms have been useful, so where did it start?
The first song was on Soundcloud and it ended up going viral. The first song got like 90 or 100 and something thousand views and it ended up getting put on a pizza advert in Brazil. I was watching funny interesting videos and then there’s a Brazilian pizza company that delivered pizzas by drones with our tune (Stockport Syndrome) in the background it was mad. We sent an email like where’s our money but they just read and ignored it.
So I want to talk a bit about Manchester. The city is getting a lot of attention recently, at this point in time there seems to be a very good steady flow of talent coming up and getting noticed by the wider media and the public. What do you guys feel about Manchester’s music scene at the moment?
I think it’s popping, all genres are going off in Manchester. It’s kind of bad for us because all the bands we started Plastic House off with, we’re all semi at the same kind of level, but it’s cool to watch.
The live scene is just a lot better than other cities as well. People will like going out and like watching live music. I guess with Manchester, when you’re between 16-18 that’s what you do, you go out and watch gigs just as something to do.
I’ve seen something recently, Manchester’s the most ticketed city per person in the country and Manchester Arena is the second most ticketed venue in the world, behind the O2. On that, do you think London’s pull has diminished?
I think that comes in again with the internet. Like you don’t need to go to London to make it. If you’re on the internet, you’ll get picked up by those guys anyway. I always think that there’ll be more competition there anyway.
I don’t know if its a bit expensive as well. Like if you’re about 16 – 20 and you want to go out with your mates to a gig, when we’ve been to London, we’ve either got lost or run out of money and that’s happened a couple of times as well, 2 times we’ve had nowhere to go and had to stay in the train station
Talk to me about the ‘Say You Love Me’ release, how did you go about that? Is it with a label, or did you go independent?
We’re on our own aren’t we, we manage Plastic House ourselves at the moment. December 1st it came out.
So you guys went independent, that’s quite a talked about issue at the moment. Did you chase a label? Or did you think that independent was the way that you needed to go?
Since we started, we’ve always had it in our heads that we need a manager or a label just to come and pick us up out of thin air kind of thing. But I think we just came to the realisation that at the end of the day that’s just not going to happen no matter how good you are. So we just thought we’re going to build it for ourselves and once there are thousands of people coming to the gigs, you cant ignore that, can you?
If you’re in control of everything, you make the same amount of money but with less fans. Like you’re in control of all your merch, your records, the live scene it’s all you. There are many people, like Chance the Rapper won a Grammy and did it all himself
So I understand you guys are touring with this new EP, that must be mad.
Yeah, we’ve not been on a full tour since ‘Hold On’ which was about one or two years ago now but that was one of the best times I’ve ever had in my whole life. We never stopped laughing the whole time. With this one, we’re looking for a few more people for the shows that aren’t in Manchester this time.
We’ve got 3 of them at the minute but the rest need to be confirmed. They’re all in getting booked in pretty much most cities, especially up north.
So it looks like it’s going to be another big summer, a big festival season when the nights start getting lighter again. Is there anything you guys can announce now?
I think at this stage, we’re a bit up in the air, aren’t we. We’ve got Gorilla coming up and Academy 3 in Manchester on the 17th March. We’ve got Leeds and Edinburgh and a load more, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to say them.
I think the idea is, every few months step it up a bit, like step up venues. We went from Deaf Institute to Ruby Lounge, Gorilla and Academy 3 which fits about another 200 people.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show, I wish you the most success and I’m sure I’ll have you guys on the show later down the line, with more and more stories to tell me.
For more of this interview with Plastic House and the full show, check out Joey’s latest episode on MCR Live below.