James Becker, a man with loud guitar, is here to reveal works of Plöw for you!
Hi mate! How are you? How did you survive New Year Night?
-Hi Aleks. I am very good thanks for asking. Well 2012 came as easily as 2011 went. I am a firm believer of that new year’s eve sucks donkey balls, so I try to go to bed no later than 00:12.
Who are you dudes of Plöw? And what are your roots? I don't think that questions about bands’ history are deadly popular, but well as it’s your first interview… Why not?
-Well we are all a bunch of rednecks that met in a music High School in South Denmark in early 2008. The other Plöwers come from different regions of Denmark while I come from Iceland. Then during some party we found out very quickly that we all had a crazy passion for Fu Manchu, Iron Monkey, Baroness and cheap Danish pilsner in common. At that time our music creativity didn’t go any further than discussing whether or not Isak (Baroness track) was the best song ever made whilst drinking gallons of pilsner. And when the pilsner ran out we almost always ended out in the common music room drunk of our faces trying to play Iron Monkey covers. At that time me and Mads (the bassist) also had our own respective bands also to attend to. Me playing gloomy glacier stoner in Reykjavik (Iceland) and him playing surf stoner in Aarhus (Denmark). Then in early 2009 I moved for good to Denmark. After leaving my band back home I became pretty eager to start playing music again. So I gave Rune (front man) a call and we settled down for drink of the cheapest whiskey available. When the bottle was empty and I had convinced him that St. Anger was probably the best album ever made we started Plöw. A few months later Mads joined us after a 3 month exile in Australia. Then we reunited with our old buddy Sören who agreed to play drums for us.
I see that you’re pretty busy with alcohol; don’t you think to go in for sport? Long tours need good endurance and as I see you’d like to play here and there.
-Haha to be quite honest drinking allot of alcohol doesn’t get easier with age either. Actually our bassist is to become a proud father in a few months, so he won’t be drinking anything stronger than apple juice the next few years. So I guess when it comes to touring we will take a strict diet of nicotine and caffeine.
-Well Völva are from the back end of Iceland haha. No but actually I think Völva are one of the more promising bands up north when it comes to sludgy grooves. But the scene in Denmark is totally different compered to Iceland. In Denmark and most other countries you have many cities with different music environments. But in Iceland you basically only have Reykjavik and the scene there, but with some exceptions of course. You will find some gigs in Völvas home town for example. And then I have to mention the Flying Testicals (Eistnaflug) festival that is held every summer in a backwards fjord 900km away from civilization. Every year the national metal heads and music gurus gather up for 3 days of nonstop head banging. There you will find all the best Icelandic heavy bands, plus some foreign ones. I played there with my old band and it was absolutely awesome. Man i have to say I miss the scene up there when I start talking about it again. I swear to you that some of Europe’s best heavy bands can be found on that Island.
As I understand you just send your new Ep “Bicentennial Picnic” anywhere you can to promote it. What kind of results does such promotional politic give you? What can you say now – is it a effective way of promotion?
-Well now a days we have the internet. So why not use it as a tool. I have sent our promotion pack around the globe and gotten surprisingly many responses, and most of them very promising. I mean nobody is going to go looking for something that they don’t know exists. And yes I would say it is an effective method of promotion if you are DIY. We want nothing more than to hit the road and play gigs in every crappy venue across Europe. And that is not going to happen by itself without writing a couple of spam mails here and there. We are extremely thankful to anybody who actually gave themselves time to open our mail, read it, listen to the goods and then actually bother to write kind words about the music. I believe you can get pretty far with a lap top, black coffee, decent music, and the neighbors internet connection.
-Well I am not sure that a label would have been of much help to us to be quite honest. We felt that it would be easier to get a label interested in us after we made the product and got some good feedback. And together with our first EP it sure makes our promotion back shine a tiny bit better. But on the other hand you also have to ask yourself, does one need a label in this time and age? Until a record label proves me wrong, I kind of have the feeling that having a label is just something fancy to try and impress girls with.
James, you’re saying that new Ep has better promotion but does it also has stuff which is stronger than previous tracks? What are strong sides of “Bicentennial Picnic” Ep?
-Well since we released our self-titled EP two years ago we have matured allot, both mentally and musically. The self-titled EP was written, recorded, mastered and mixed in 4 months. And as we gave Bicentennial Picnic allot more time it became allot more personal. And it seems to have gotten allot more catchy in the process as well. But i also feel that our sound has become heavier while we maybe make it accessible at the same time. We are also total suckers for progressive hardcore metal like the Ocean and Isis. And if you listen hard you might find some traces left behind.
-Well it took us 14 months to finish Furrow of Doom for some reason. Changing bit by bit with every gig we played. The other tracks came pretty naturally though. For example we wrote Bad day for a picnic in a weekend. The biggest bother though was to get the music out of the hard disk. The recordings have been ready for over a year but due to re mixes and constant changes of studios the result came quite late.
Of course I can’t just pass your song “High Tide” and video-clip of this song. I just fucking (believe me – I really use this word fucking rare) wonder how did you compose such absolute killer-track?! What is it history?
-Haha if i knew we would write a whole album just containing High Tide like songs. The story is that when we came up with the riffs we were quite influenced by the Swords, Warp Riders. So we were feeling allot of guitar parts and dare I say “shredding” in our heads. And then we made the video shortly after as a part of a school project I was doing at time.
Moreover, what are your lyrics about? I mean… is there any detailed conception behind this all thunderous riffs and melodies? Are there any themes which you will not touch in Plow?
-All Plöw songs are part of one concept. If you check the cover of our first EP you can see a skeleton ploughing a brain with a skeleton horse and a rusty plough. That skeleton is the all mighty plough man. Apparently he is immortal and can’t be slayed by any man/god/creature. So he goes around pissing of random people/gods/creatures trying to see if someone beholds the power of killing him. Basically our songs are about his journey of death and self-destruction. He meets some crazy creatures along the way and gets into some wars. If you have all this in mind you should try and look at the High Tide video again and try read between the lines. It is more than just 4 dudes killing each other in exiting ways. It actually beholds a message.
Oh, I must ask this… how much beer does your vocalist drink per day? I bet it requires much alcohol to make his throat sounds so harsh! I even remember Finnish band The Black League and their early days though you’re free to tell us about your influences by yourself…
-Haha I have to confess that now a days he drinks gallons of organic green tea. He must spike it up with some remedy of evilness. He also has it going for him that he looks pretty crazy for somebody that drinks green tee. We call him the friendly but lethal bulldog.
I just can guess that his tea is green with blood of aliens or toxic wastes, because Rune sings like possessed! :-) James, look, you released a great Ep and recorded excellent video by yourself but you say that to release a full-length CD for you right now is a difficult task. Do you have enough new songs for next release? Or money is only problem, is it?
-I mentioned before that all our EP was recorded almost a year ago. So we have had quite some time to write new material, as long as we were not gigging. We have some punchy new material already made, and allot of ideas ready in our heads. We could for sure release another EP right away if we had the money. But give us 2-3 months and even more money and we have an LP ready for sure. So I would say that the issue is definitely money. I mean we even have the producer and studio chosen out. We could of course attempt to record something by ourselves in our practice room. But we don’t want to release something just for the sake of releasing something. It has to be in decent quality, something we can be proud of many years from now.
And here I have no other option but to ask you how does this new material sound? What’s about it?
-That is a hard question to answer. Every time we write a new song we are inspired by some different bands or genres. And that’s where we get our inspiration from. Nobody in the band has daddy issues, is depressed or has a drug problem. So we don’t have dark gloomy experiences to write about. We know we are not reinventing the wheel in our music so we more think it in a way that we celebrate the genre and our heroes that play it. So you might hear glimpse of Scandinavian GO! Stoner in our new stuff while the next person might hear clear references to Savannah, Texas.
-We try to play at least 1-2 gigs a month if possible. It is very, very different how the attendance is here. We have played for a crowd of 3 one night and for a crowd of 120 the next. The underground scene here is very “underground”. The Danes are very main stream in my opinion, it’s like the majority of them ignore that there is an in between thing from Arcade Fire to Slayer. Either you are indie or extremely metal. But I have to say there are some great hidden gems here as well. And thankfully we have had the pleasure of playing with most of them. So yes, we have only played gigs in Denmark, but we aim on getting abroad as soon as possible. We dream of smelly tour busses, trucker porno mags, burger King and the open high way.
What does your experience tell you – do CDs sell better during gigs or it’s okay to spread it via distros and shops?
-My personal opinion is that CD’s don’t sell to people under the age of 30 at the moment. It seems that the vinyl is very big at the moment. I think people rather download it now a days or just stream it. Now when every second person has a smart phone, one can just as well stream everything. But mind you that is just the way it is here in Denmark. I could imagine it is different after what countries you are in. None the less we always have a bunch of CD’s on us as well spreading them to some independent music shops as well.
What perspectives do you see for Plow and what prevent you from total incarnation of your plans?
-One great thing about our band is that we love both being in studio as well as playing live gigs. So we want to record our new material and go on a European tour if possible. But of course money is always the factor for everything. At the moment we are planning gigs following the release of Bicentennial Picnic. It will be released physically in the end of February. So we are planning a big release gig in our home town Aarhus around that time. Then we have a handful of gigs coming up in Denmark in the spring time. We also have some pretty exciting plans for the summer and autumn, but it is too early tell about that at the moment.
Okay, James, I just can wish you good luck in such brave beginnings and I bet that you achieve your goals soon with such good taste of music. Good luck man! But please add few words for our readers before you leave!
-I would like to thank anybody who has bothered to listen to our music, and if you haven’t you know what you are going to do after you read this. We would like to encourage you to download the EP if you find a decent link somewhere. We don’t care about the money. We would rather you came to our concerts and sat down for a pint of green tea and a chat. I also want to thank our great friend/producer Danny Jensen for all the help, inspiration, work and manly love.
In the words of Brain Police, Stay Rock!
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
Plow @ GoGoYoko