Plastic Animals are a band we’ve known about for ages, but jut haven’t felt massively compelled to write about about. Until now, that is.
After a couple of perfectly enjoyable, yet unspectacular support slots last year (we’d describe last year’s A Dark Spring EP in the same terms), our hand has been forced by them getting really good. Really fucking good.
New EP Automaton, aided by a new second guitarist, is a huge progression in songwriting, and despite being the opening act on a recent four band bill – also featuring Black International, A Fight You Can’t Win and Belfast’s Before Machines – they were the pick of an absolutely brilliant night.
We’re now massive fans, and not just because we twigged that bassist Dave Wark isn’t just from the same town as us (hundreds of miles away) but also went to the same school. Although we felt ancient when we realised that we’d left before he’d even started.
Something of a cosmopolitan bunch, frontman Mario Cruzado is Peruvian, not that you’d guess for his melodic vocals buried in an avalanche of distorted guitars and pounding drums. New guitarist Ben also has Maori blood but on the evidence of Snow Patrol and Franz Ferdinand, we shouldn’t be surprised to stumble across a ‘Scottish’ band with barley a shred of Scottish DNA between them.
Automaton will be launched at Edinburgh’s Henry’s Cellar Bar on June 3. We caught up with Dave and Ben for a word about its release.
So who the hell are you?
Dave: We are one part Peruvian, one part Irish, one part Scots and an equal measure of Scots and Maori in Ben, which when slowly baked for a good few hours forms the atmospheric punk rock sludge known as Plastic Animals.
Describe your sound in ten words or less!
Dave: Atmospheric layered guitar driven harmonious rawk!
How does the new EP differ from your older material?
Dave: Well our really old stuff was quite grungy and aggressive, but with A Dark Spring, we kind of moved towards a more melodic, atmospheric sound. And Automaton really builds on that, adding in a bit more sexy guitar interplay amongst the fuzz and noise. We had a bit more time for mixing and to play with the arrangements this time around, so hopefully it’s a bit richer sounding too.
Have you drawn upon any particular inspirations for Automaton?
Ben: Musically we’ve been listening to bands like Real Estate, Deerhunter and Lower Dens, and as always, an awful lot of Yo La Tengo, Grandaddy and Pixies. Some of the lyrics are inspired by a fear of obsolescence or mind controlling technology… but I think that’s just a product of watching too many sci-fi films, rather than a statement of any kind.
Do you think an additional guitarist has added a different dimension?
Dave: It makes a big difference, yeh! From a songwriting perspective, it gives us another set of skills and ideas (and effects pedals) to play with. And from a performance perspective, we don’t have to rely on loops to build up layers anymore – which was quite limiting and difficult to keep in time with sometimes. And from a ‘band dynamic’ perspective, we were all a bit bored of each other’s chat after six years, so it’s nice to have someone new to keep things interesting.
What have you got lined up for the launch night?
Ben: We’re really excited about the launch night. We were racking our tiny brains for bands that we liked and would fit the bill, and eventually we managed to convince Honeyblood and The Spook School to join us! We all love their tunes and think they’ll each add a different flavour to the mix. The venue is ours till 3am so after the bands we’ll hopefully get to spin some sweet tunes as well – should be FUN!
Can we expect other shows soon?
Ben: Definitely! The only other show we have confirmed right now is in Glasgow on Friday 8th June, at The Old Hairdressers. It’s for Touch Sensitive’s 2×6 Album launch night! They’re releasing a compilation album which includes 6 Scottish (including us) and six Spanish bands and you get a free limited edition CD with the entrance fee. Pretty sweet! Apart from that, we’re trying to focus on organising a wee tour throughout Scotland and our Anglo neighbour. It will be a bit later in the year, and we’ll keep peeps updated via the usual online places of interest.
Is a full length release planned?
Dave: Hopefully! There were some songs that didn’t fit the feel of Automaton, so once these start to take shape then we’ll start thinking about the best way to release them. We’d definitely like to work on something a bit bigger and more cohesive, but I think we kind of want to make sure a few people are actually going to be interested enough to listen to it before embarking on that.