Indie upstarts PLAZA are rapidly calling attention to themselves in the unsigned and underground scene, thanks to their fiery debut singles and energetic live shows. Their music, which sounds both agitated and anthemic, is drawing interest from all the right people, and they have been capitalising on it with a short five date tour.
We caught up with them at their show at Koh Tao in Manchester, where the band chatted with us before their tiny, sweaty show in the Fallowfield bar’s tiny basement.
Ok guys, first question, and perhaps the most important: is a pint in Hartlepool really only £1.50?
All: On a Thursday…
Will: In King Johns, yeah.
A lot has been said about the intensity of your performances, where did the aggression of your live shows come from?
Matt S: It just sort of comes from the music, depends on the crowd as well, like even in a small crowd we’ll still go mad.
Brad: For us the live shows are more important than recordings, when people watch us they remember us…
Will: ‘Cause even if people aren’t listening to music, they’re watching you, at least they’ll remember you by being fucking idiots onstage (laughs)
Matt S: Brad actually nearly hit my Nan in the head with his bass at one show.
Will: We’re not actually genuinely angry people…
Matt S: YOU are…
Will: (Laughs) It just happens naturally, it shouldn’t be put on y’know?
Totem came out in February, since then you’ve had massive airplay on BBC Radio 1, Amazing Radio and so on, do you ever feel intimidated by how fast things are moving?
Brad: Nah it’s just a big shock really, when we first planned everything we didn’t expect everything to develop this way.
Will: It was a big shock when we got played on Radio 1. But we didn’t find out from Radio 1, we found out from someone messaging us, telling us they’d just heard us playing. I remember I was in bed, it was proper late, and a mate called me about it. I was well excited, woke people up in my house, someone thought I’d attacked my girlfriend! But I was like no no no we just got played on Radio 1! (laughs)
Brad: It’s (Totem) a really short song, it used to be closer to three minutes, but then I listened to VANT, and their first single was like, a minute or something, so I just thought well, let’s up the BPM to just under two minutes, we did that precisely so it would get more radio plays.
Will: Yeah it slots in nicely ’cause it’s so short.
Well that pre-empts my next question, since neither Totem or Blood Orange exceed 3 minutes, do you guys think less is more?
Matt S: Well it makes people want more doesn’t it? People tend to think “oh it’s so short, I might just listen to it again.”
Will: It’s a good way of building up plays, ‘cause it’s so short people might listen to it again; it doubles your plays instantly.
So it was a tactical move?
Brad: For me it was, that’s what I had in my head before I told the rest (of the band).
Will: That became the recurring theme for a while, our songs being short.
Brad: A year ago, (Totem) was like really slow, three minutes.
Will: It ended up being a fast paced song because live, we’d just fly through it.
What topics stimulate songwriting?
Brad: It’s weird how we write, one of us will have an idea, take it to practice, then we’ll all rip it apart completely.
Matt S: It never stays the same as how it starts, it all comes out of the jam sessions.
Will: It’s a bit unorthodox but it always works for us.
And how far are you willing to push that creative process?
Brad: The main thing is that we all come from different musical backgrounds, like Matty has his instrumental Math-Rock side project, so his drumming has an impact on our stuff.
Will: But there’s been times when we’ve sat for hours playing the same song over and over for it to not work.
Brad: Yeah we go through periods of hating and loving our songs depending on if we play it live or writing it.
With indie and rock music having something of a resurgence at the moment, how do you guys feel you stand apart from the rest?
Brad: Well our separate influences, we’re all into different stuff like Psych shit, Tame Impala, Shoegaze, Math Rock…
Will: In Hartlepool, there’s like four bands including us, and they’ve always been pigeonholed into this Post Rock/Math Rock sort of thing, which we’ve tried ourselves not to be pigeonholed by. The first stuff we wrote was a bit like that, but still different; we’d like to think so anyway.
There’s some reference to politics on your social media, are you a political band? If so, does that every play into your lyrics?
Brad: Don’t even get me started, everyone’s really political individually, I don’t really give a shit.
Will: None of our music is politically driven, not even lyrically. I mean in your own way you might adapt it based on how you take the lyrics, but in context it’s never been political. But I’m mad into politics…
What’s next, an EP, an album, more shows?
Matt S: Maybe one more single?
Brad: We’re working on a portfolio of songs, going towards an album, but no album yet no.
Will: This tour at the minute is ‘cause we want to, people aren’t begging us to play, but we want to play, get the experience, the exposure…
Matt N: For example, we turned up last night, and 2 people there had travelled like 2 hours to come see us, they were singing every word of the songs, that was great!
What’s the first question you’d ask your biggest influences?
Brad: Collectively? I dunno
Will: We’re all into such different stuff, like we like the same music but our favorite bands differ to one another.
Alright then, well what, individually, would be the first thing you’d ask your biggest influences?
Will: Kevin Parker, I’d ask him what planet do you come from, and how did you get here? The man’s a genius, he’s not even a real human.
Brad: Mine’s not possible since he’s dead, but Ian Curtis. Lyrically he’s something else, I’d just wanna know what’s going on in his head.
Matt S: The drummer of COLOUR, I’d ask him where the fuck did you get them chops, and where can I buy some?
Matt N: Mario from CHON…
Will: We met ‘em actually, and it was their first UK tour, they didn’t have a clue what we were saying ‘cause of our accents, but we were totally fanboying.
Matt N: I think I’m gonna stick by the question of will you marry me, yeah I’ll stick with that!
Plaza’s new single ‘Blood Orange’ is available now via Beyond The Wall. Buy on iTunes here.