Plastic Section Interview

A mixture of John Spencer and Sun Records, Plastic Section are one quickly becoming one of our favourite bands here at Munster. Combining classic 50s rock with their own touch Plastic Sound are familiar but also fresh. Ben Edwards started the group in Sydney took it to Bangkok and now Melbourne where he has now landed. I first met Ben at the GEM and kindly gave me a copy of their CD Frenzy in the City of Hell. 12 tracks in under 30 minutes, short sharp and to the point not a wasted moment. There follow up Trouble is our Business is more of the same and one of the best releases of 2019. One of the hardest working men in rock Pip has joined the group on bass joining Ben and drummer Matthew. Ben and Pip met me at the Last Chance Rock n Roll Bar on a Thursday night to talk rock, the art of recording on cassette and the various locations they’ve called home.  

Munster: So how did Plastic Section start, did the band start in Australia or Bangkok?

Ben: when I was living in Sydney I had a band called the Section sort of garage rock band but I occasionally did gigs on my own or with various people so I called that Plastic Section. When I moved to Bangkok I kept that going as I did gigs on my own, so people came in and it became a proper band but it was always pretty loose with people coming and going. When I moved to Melbourne I wanted to keep it going, I met our drummer Matthew first through a mate who put me in touch with him because I didn’t know may people in Melbourne. Pip saw a few of our gigs and asked if we needed a bass player. It’s worked out well.

Munster: I first saw Plastic Section with the Beat Taboo at the Gem and I think that was as a two piece and not long after that Pip came into the band so Pip how did you join the fold?

Pip: I was at one of their gigs and I was very drunk and thought they were great, and because I’m very annoying when I’m drunk I told them what I thought and asked if they needed a bass player. A few weeks later Ben called me and that was that.

Ben: I think we played a gig with Wrong Turn at Cherry Bar one night

Pip: That’s right

Munster: Pip you play in Plastic Section, Wrong Turn, Blowers and the Exotics how do you find the time to play in all these bands?

Pip: I’ve multiplied myself (laughs). Its weird, it’s worked out. One day I played three gigs with three bands and it was too much. It’s pretty fortunate there hasn’t been much conflict. Basically its first come first served if someone says we got a gig on the 21st  I say yup and go from there.

Munster: Trouble is our Business is your new LP out on Off the Hip, tell us the process of recording it?

Ben: it was basically the set we’ve been playing lately. Mickster was keen to release something and we wanted something out in Melbourne. We hooked up with Raul from Midnight Wolf and we did it in an arvo at the rehearsal space Raul works

Pip: can I just add at that point I had been in the band for three weeks, I’d only had one gig with them at that point.

Ben: it was rough on him. It was rough n ready we just wanted to bang something out that sounds like a live set. Raul recorded it on cassette he had an 8 track cassette tape, he did the mixing as well and Lluis Fuzzhound did the artwork

Munster:  How did the association with Mickster and Off the Hip Come about?

Ben: when I moved to Melbourne I didn’t know many people but I knew Mick and I knew the shop as I was a fan of a lot of the stuff he released. And when in town I’d always go in and have a chat with Mick. I gave him a demo at one point and when I moved down we played a gig at the shop so it when from there

Munster: You mentioned you recorded the LP on Cassette, what benefits are there recording on tape?

Plastic Section Trouble Cd Off The Hip Lluis

Pip: it’s warmer.  And also makes you more on your game, you can’t be too fancy as you only have eight tracks. So you need to by fishy with how you play. I’ve recorded with Raul before with the Interceptors and we were really happy with that he does a good job.

Ben: we prefer recording live anyway basically, or do the tracks live at least and do the vocals afterwards the process is pretty similar but gives it a warmer sound.

Pip: we recorded it all top to bottom in six hours then it was a mixing thing so it takes that pain out of going back, there’s no over dubs so that was it.

Ben: ideally         the thing would be to record from real to real tape so you get that in-between sound. Raul is good because he can take that and mix it digitally but has that analogue sound

Munster: Pip how did you go recording considering you were in the band for a few weeks?

Pip: I’ve become used to it, flying on the seat of my pants. Tex Napalm thought me that, the skill of to this learn this, kind of a do or die scenario. I do find it quite stressful but its one of those things, and if you fuck it up its only rock n roll we’re not gonna lose our houses or anything.

Ben: rock n roll shouldn’t be perfect there’s always little mistakes

Munster: when I listen to that record it feels like a Sun City sound with elements of John Spencer, how did you get that 50s guitar sound?

Pip: I would say its Bens natural guitar sound. Its brilliant.

Ben: the only technicity in terms of recording is basically doing it live which is how they did it in the 50s and 60s and most bands do it that way now, the idea of overdubbing everything is a 80s and 90s thing.

Pip: and you lose the three piece sound, overdubs loses the vibe

Ben: yeah it never quite connects. And the songwriting is influenced by 50s and 60s rock n roll which I love the most.

Munster: Ben when I met you at the Gem you gave me the record you did before this and it came in under 30 minutes Trouble is Our Business is 10 songs also under 30 minutes which I love the keep it short nature of the songs.

Ben: yeah, im not into guitar solos

Pip: people have short attention spans these days anyway

Ben: and again all the songs from the 50s and 60s were short songs and just perfect little capsule, and if there was a solo it was a little burst of energy. It’s a part not a random improvised its part of the song not just banging on for five minutes.

Munster: Pip obviously you were a fan of the band to want to join but was there something you thought was lacking that you thought you could add to the group?

Pip: the bass player on the other CDs, I’m a different kind of player. She’s a natural musician where’s I’m not. I’m by no stretch of the imagination a natural musician. So it’s more the way I play gives it more of a fill. There’s things we’ve put together since I’ve put some ideas in with arrangements so I think we’re working well together.

Ben: and since Pip joined we’ve been going all new stuff and we/’ve got another LP of songs ready to go

Munster: Ben you lived in Bangkok for a period while having the band going what was the scene like over there?

Ben: It was great, like everywhere else it’s a real underground scene they have a massive pop scene but they have a great underground scene with venues like this and some amazing bands, and its quite international a lot of bands are a mixture of Thai Japanese American Australian all playing together so it makes an interesting mix, we play a few times a month but its small, most gigs would have 50 to 100 people. There’s not a lot of rock n roll bands. There’s heaps of hardcore punk and shoegazing and power pop so we were one of the few just doing straight rock. And its really devise you’d get four bands playing different kinds of music and everyone’s supportive so it works well.

Munster: And Plastic Section also played shows in Berlin too.

Ben: we just went there for a holiday but planned to play a few gigs while we were there. We had a drummer friend who played with us in Bangkok who was living in Berlin. We lined up a gig at record shop and he said you can play here as our neighbors have complained about the sound so that didn’t happen but he got us some gigs. One was supporting Paul Collins Beat and the other in this small basement venue. Loved to go back

Munster:  And you’ve been on a few TV shows overseas as well.

Ben: did a few in Bangkok in Thailand they make their own contact on radio and TV so there more opportunity’s where here we get a lot from American. Did that a few times but never got to see any of it as I didn’t have a telly.

Munster: Pip your one of the busiest people I know what is it your looking for in a band that makes you wanna sign up?

Pip: I have to like the music but I’m more about the people. And that’s generally most of the bands I’ve been in people I know who are friends and I’ve volunteered or they asked me. For me personality in bands that’s a big thing. If they can gel, you need to have some kind of connection. You read an ad online band needs guitarist and for me that’s not really how I’d work I’d rather see the band meet them and say ah yeah I’ll do that

Ben: I agree every time I start something new I’d rather play on my own and go from there and meet people that way.

Pip: and it’s organic not this forced thing. It’s a fun world for us, we’re not gonna make a living of this this is why we have a day job

Ben: and that’s one good side of not making a living from music is that it means it has to be fun and people have to do exactly what they want to do otherwise why would you do it. Otherwise there’s no reason to do it.

Pip: and I’m no spring chicken to me it’s an energy thing it gives me something to do it beats sitting at home watching…..whatever’s on TV.

Ben: I finds Melbourne to be really friendly, I knew hardly anyone when I moved down here now I have a bunch of friends via music and its my whole life really.

Pip: and really people are quite inclusive we all give each other a hand or a suggestion or help each other out, you hear stories but you rarely hear of people getting fucked over

Ben: when I arrived in Melbourne I was walking down Sydney Rd one day and I heard this amazing psychedelic band and I went in and it was Trauma Boys who I didn’t know and I was blown away. I was talking to Jimmy the singer and I told him I play in a band and do similar stuff and I suggested maybe we can set up a gig and they did and that was my first gig in Melbourne so that’s an example of how friendly it is

Munster: Ben you’re from Sydney and spent time in Bangkok Pip your from Belfast and you’ve both traveled the world so do you think Melbourne has earned the live music capital of the world title?

Pip: pretty much coming from Belfast which in the 60s bands like Them played there and had a bigger audience than they did in their home city. There was the reassurance with Good Vibrations in the late 70s, since then it’s been hit and miss. And here usually when a venues closes another one pops up and that’s a great thing. A lot of what it comes down to is RRR and PBS they give bands such a hand up for me PBS has been amazing every time I do something there all over it and you don’t get that everywhere and because of the population size people will hear it. And with Trouble is our Business LP we got reviewed in Via La Rock its like fuck how did that happen. Whether it’s a zine or public radio it’s a really good healthy thing to have.

Ben: and the DJs from those stations they’ll DJ at gigs so everyone’s involved. Melbourne has an amazing amount of amazing bands every time I go to a gig I discover a new band. And international bands want to come here

Pip: I lived in Perth for three years before I came here and it was all let’s get to Melbourne. And here I meet people from New Zeeland who also said that lets get to Melbourne.  It seems every week someone is getting off a bus or plane saying lets get toe Melbourne. There’s two ways to look at it one way it makes it very competitive, but the other side is it keeps  healthy its always moving things happening as long as there enough slices of the cake we can have we’re all happy people.

Ben: and its all healthy competition makes some bands lift their game like every time you see another great band appears it makes the other bands try harder and makes everyone better

Pip: I’ve learned you can’t rest on your morals, there’s so many new bands coming up if you have 9 months off its hard to get back into where you were before. Unless your something quite special. People just forget and you can be instantly replaced. But in a positive way that’s a good thing as makes you wanna keep playing

Ben: compared to Bangkok for example if you played a gig, here people would tell you if your shit or they wouldn’t come.

Pip: if you’re having fun people get that. We’re not reinventing the wheel and I don’t want to. It’s the Billy Childish mentality authenticity over originality, I’d rather do something authentic, this is what’s inside my head coming out as long as you’re doing it for the fun factor you can’t lose.

Ben: as long as you put your heart and soul and having fun there’s no such thing as a shit band

Munster: Pip you mentioned before you grew up in Belfast, growing up in the 70s how did you find punk and other counter culture?

Pip: Belfast when I grew up was a fairly shut down city security barriers round the city closed at 11. When you went in you were searched and when you left it was one way you couldn’t get back in. that strangled all the city venues. So for me I lived round the corner from these guys, it was the first time I touched a guitar so I went round and hung out with these guys who turned into the Defects. My mum worked for a country label we used to drink bottles of cider and we all loved the Clash records, I mentioned my mum worked for a label and they asked me if they could release our album. My mum asked her boss, and he rang me and said get those guys to get in touch. He said here’s the deal I’ll make your record but you can’t say who I am or mention the label and that’s how they made their first single. Back in those days you didn’t get many choices, it was you did or you didn’t you took the avenues opened to you. My friend Brian Young from Good Vibrations, I was four years younger than them and I looked up to them as I had their record. I always brought records but it was unheard of to make your own record, so when these guys up the road were making their own record it was a massive inspiration. I couldn’t imagine what someone who played guitar looked like. I was terrified because I didn’t know what to say. When I was 18 we met over a Johnny Thunders LP and that’s how we met. It was the whole if you like this you’ll like that. Belfast was nothing like here. Underground gigs where in Scout Halls and Warehouses there was no pubs. It really was underground. I wasn’t playing in those days and am lucky to have missed that. The whole Good Vibrations things these days I’m lucky to say I know those people.

Ben: so it was total DIY?

Pip: Absolutely. I had a mate and he said until he went to England he had never seen a Gibson or a Fender because you couldn’t afford it no one had money it was all Japanese guitars which today are probably a bit of money, but at they time they had zero value.

Munster: What’s up Next?

Pip: hopefully some more recording

Ben: we have an LPs work of material, we want to do vinyl next time, whether a LP EP or single hopefully a LP, and just play as much as possible.

Munster: Favouirte Fall LP please.

Pip: Frenz Experiment

Ben: gonna cheat and say 50,000 Fall Fans. I read Mark E Smiths book and it’s a cracker.

Pip: that’s another thing about musical culture changing from the point of view we’re running out of characters the Mark E Smiths, up front fuck you I don’t care what you think

Ben: well there still there but there not gonna be on the cover of the NME it’s a shame you don’t get that in masse culture that was a standard of the 80s. I remember in that book he goes on for five pages how much he hates Australia but his favourite show was Neighbours

Pip: well that guy I mentioned who never seen a Fender and Gibson he supported the Fall in Belfast and a fist fight happened on stage. He sacked the band and said fuck off the gigs not happening.

Trouble is our Business now out on Off the Hip Records

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