Melbourne-based band Plastic graced our shores with a three stop tour last week, playing in Wellington at Moon bar in Newtown. Four fifths of the band were formerly known as Five Mile Town, a Silver scroll nominated Auckland alt-folk-rock band. After moving to Melbourne in 2013, the band continued to play but leaned away from their previously acoustic instrumentation and added a keyboard player to their line up. Frontman Louis McDonald explains “it was time to start a new band really, we wanted to do a new thing. The music we were writing for so long didn’t really reflect anything we had done and we kinda just wanted to start again.” The core elements of the band remain intact: their strength in songwriting being carried over into their new iteration as Plastic, while they ditched the restrictions of acoustic guitars and double bass and added more guitar effects, synth lines, and drum machines. “We had written quite a lot of different stuff for Five Mile Town, but we just decided to make an acoustic EP at first. We just ended up pigeonholing ourselves a bit. We weren’t that good, the music wasn’t that complicated, and we just felt now that we had got better.”
The move to Melbourne in 2013 was a somewhat spontaneous decision. “It was ill planned. We had one gig at The Toff and bought one way tickets. But it’s as easy as moving down the road. The majority of us were living at home, and we were like ‘oh we could move out, or just move to Melbourne.’ It’s like moving to Grey Lynn or whatever.” The band members seemed to quickly integrate into the Melbourne music community, both playing, and working in, music. McDonald works at Found Sound, a renowned vintage gear store in Melbourne frequented by the likes of Courtney Barnett and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Keyboard player Louis plays in other Melbourne bands including a bigger soul / funk group. Ryan (drummer) and Levi (Guitar) both DJ, and Ryan makes electronic music under the name Ryan Berkley. McDonald also played in Fly My Pretties—the Five Mile Town track “Fatal Flaw” featuring on their 2013 record. “It was a complete eye opener for me, playing a completely different role in another band, which I don’t really do a lot of,” says McDonald. Ryan elaborates, “before I had my own personal outlet, I always wanted to kind of drag what I was listening to into the band, even if it wasn’t appropriate. But now I’ve got my own outlet, I don’t feel the need to bring that in. So it kind of puts your role in the band into more perspective.”
The EP Nightmares was released in August last year but the band has since been self-recording new music. Louis explains, “we’ve got a studio space with a couple of friends in other bands… it’s good to just leave stuff there so if you’re like ‘hey I wanna go in and track something, try something,’ there’s just freedom to do it at any point, which is kinda cool.” The band’s continuous writing was reflected in their live set which covered most of the EP and some unreleased tracks. They play like a group that’s been together for a number of years (because they have). Their loose, quick bursts of overdriven guitar are held down by a solid rhythm section—the drums always grooving along interestingly but never fading away or going overboard. The general vibe at Moon was fairly mellow, but in the right circumstances Plastic could definitely provide a raucous evening. Their unreleased tracks sounding dancier and somewhat braver than their EP.
In regards to upcoming releases the band says “it depends how it goes, because we’re doing it all by ourselves… I reckon we’ll record a bunch of songs and then be like alright are 12 songs album worthy, or will it just be a really solid thing if its like six or seven of them.”
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“Between us we have a very eclectic taste” says Ryan, and from the band’s show and our chat, it does seem that they are ready and willing to go in any direction they want to at the moment. Hopefully they come back to NZ soon and release more music in the near future, as I’m sure their next effort will be sufficiently surprising.
Check the band out on Facebook and Bandcamp (musicplastic.bandcamp.com). The full audio from our interview will be online soon, on the Salient FM website.