Simple things first – where are you guys from?
Dan Kert (vocals, guitars): Plastic Barricades are currently based in North-West London, but we are constantly traveling all around the country and planning to expand our reach to Europe very soon. I moved to the UK from Estonia, Jonas was born in Norway, Dani – in Italy. The only true Londoner here is our drummer Frazer.
How did you meet?
Frazer (drums): We met during a rehearsal before I joined the band at the ICMP (Institute of Contemporary Music Performance).
Jonas (lead guitar): Dan initially started the band with a completely different line up as a three piece, Dani and Frazer were studying at the ICMP and when Dan was looking for musicians that’s where he looked and found those two. Once that was all sorted they contemplated getting a second guitarist; I tried out and they decided to keep me. I’m pretty new around these parts really.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
Frazer: I’ve been a part of the band for around 3 years but the band has existed in one form or another for I think 9 years.
Jonas: As the current line up I’d say we’ve been together for about 6 months or so now.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Frazer: Well it was said that in 1819 Master Plasteek Barracadium stated “In order for humans to live well with humans regardless of creed or stature, music must be heard to enable one to ascertain inner enlightenment via the thought of self. Music that will force man and woman to look to themselves for the truths that they seek in their lives and not to the ether, only then will we be free.”. No idea what he was on about but we liked the way his name sounded!
Jonas: From what I’ve heard Dan used to have a real thing for Doctor Pepper, 3 or 4 bottles a day. And as he was always in the studio that’s where they’d pile up and they’d get stacked up until there was a pretty good wall of Dr Pepper which became known as the plastic barricade and when it came to thinking of a band name that’s where the inspiration came from.
Dan: This is clearly a mystery yet to be solved!
What are your influences – individually or as a band?
Frazer: We all have very different backgrounds in music and pretty different tastes in music in general but I’m currently listening to a lot of Snarky Puppy and Lettuce.
Jonas: As a band we have very diverse tastes which I think makes for better music, stops it being too easily placed in a box or being classed as having been “already done”. My biggest influence as a guitarist is Jimi Hendrix, hard for him not to be when you’re a guitarist, but I’m also a big fan of afrobeat, jazz and instrumental hip hop as well as rock and blues.
Dan: Bands like Coldplay (the early one, not the current disco-hit-wonder), Muse, Razorlight, Keane, Radiohead, The Shins, Biffy Clyro and Oasis definitely had a saying in what you can hear from Plastic Barricades today.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Frazer: The music we play is heavily intended to be internalized by each listener on a personal level with the goal of inspiring people to think about their lives and choices.
Jonas: I think all the different musical influences come together pretty uniquely, there are aspects that are very accessible and then there’s some more unexpected and left field stuff going on. But i think as a whole it’s melodic and well thought out music and with some great musicianship thrown in!
Dan: We try to explore different sonic possibilities and surprise the listener, both on the record and live. There is a lot of stereo imaging, quirky vocal effects and some synths thrown in here and there. And every gig is a story, which develops throughout the set and leaves the audience thinking about the important stuff after the show.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Frazer: Well the lyrics are very dependent on the individual song, overall it’s probably easiest to say our lyrics are introspective by nature.
Jonas: I haven’t had a hand in writing any lyrics as that’s mainly done by Dan but they seem pretty focused in on how society and people function in the modern world. But as a whole the themes vary pretty drastically from mental illness to how goldfish grow.
Dan: The upcoming album will most probably be called Mechanics of Life. And it is both about the “action-and-consequence” and about us people, “the mechanics”.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Frazer: Since I’ve joined the band we’ve played around 50 gigs up and down the UK.
Jonas: We try to give a high energy performance, something that the crowd will enjoy! And keep the tracks close to the recordings but maybe with some added flavor to make each show unique. As the current line up is say we’ve played 10 shows or so, but the band has been actively touring for a lot longer than that, I’m just the newest additive to the mix.
Dan: We are proud of playing all around UK, especially at charity events and astronomy festivals. We are hungry for new exciting venues and events, where the audience actually cares about the music and the cause. We support Oxjam charity events several years in a row and plan to play several shows for Cancer Research UK later this year.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Frazer: Well it wasn’t so much what I did but during a performance at a festival a girl who I think wasn’t sober stumbled on stage pushing Dan’s microphone away from him. She put her fingers in her ears and asked me (the drummer) if I could “turn it down”… there is a video on youtube of the amazing moment which I still laugh at titled “girl sabotages musicians in the middle of the song“. Go check it out!
Jonas: I played a show, maybe 2 years ago or so now, with my previous band in Dalston in London. It wasn’t a big show or anything but one of other bands on the bill were on tour over from Japan, they seemed pretty disappointed with the venue and they went on first. But they were incredible; played some crazy Japanese punk music, the front man/ guitarist was rolling around on the floor and jumping off the wedges, was an incredible amount of energy. I got some cool videos of that show. Hopefully things got a bit more promising for them further on the tour.
Dan: Singing a whole show in a puddle of water at Camden Proud (London) right after an Axl Rose-wannabe. Getting electrocuted through the microphone for 45 minutes is not fun at all. But the gig was great though!
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Frazer: I play a handmade snare by Witt percussion which is just amazing! You can hear it on all of our recordings or any live gigs which if you’re a drummer I would advice you check out! I also use Meinl cymbals, Vic Firth 3a drum sticks and ACS in-ear monitors.
Jonas: Guitar-wise we’re a Fender band, I’m a definite Strat man and Dan recently formed a serious relationship with a vintage Jazzmaster he got a hold of. With amps we both again own Fenders (Blues Deluxe and Supersonic Twin) and Dan has a small Marshall Class 5 which is a bit more convenient for touring as his Fender is HUGE! Dani plays a G&L bass but recently required a very fancy Fender Deluxe Precision Bass.
Dan: And don’t forget those incredible TC Electronics guitar effects, TC Helicon vocal effects and Electro-Voice and Rode microphones!
What are your plans for 2016?
Frazer: Hard to answer, but I can say for sure that it’s a lot, recordings, gigs, Europe and lots of writing!
Jonas: We want to finish up the album and get that out ideally but we also want to expand out touring, hopefully into Europe and expand one fan base a bit out there.
Dan: Mechanics of Life LP release would definitely be number one on my priority list!
If you could be part of any 3-band line-up (as support or headlining) who else would you have on the bill?
Jonas: For me It’d have to be BADBADNOTGOOD and George Clinton and P Funk, that would be one hell of a show. Can’t much better than that.
Dan: I would love to tour together with The Shins, their latest album Port of Morrow is the most honest piece of music I’ve heard in quite a while! Catfish and the Bottlemen would do great on that bill as well!