Twenty Questions - Plini

I feel like I should open this post with something about striking while the iron is hot, but that saying has always bothered me a little. Sure, I get what it's getting at and everything, but even without being a blacksmith I can tell you that if you're striking the iron while it's cold you don't quite grasp how the process works. (And yes, smithing enthusiasts, I do know about cold working.)

Anyways, my point, if you'll allow me to mix metaphors here, is that I'm going to strike while the iron is hot and keep the ball rolling along here in the land of the newest Loud Noises feature, Twenty Questions.

Today we're doing some traveling, from Canada to Australia, from rockin' prog to smooth instrumental guitar work, and from Mandroid Echostar to Plini.

 LN: For any of my readers who aren’t familiar with you, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?

P: Hello. I’m a 20 year old architecture student from Sydney. But I spend a lot of my free time sitting in front of a computer writing geeky guitar music pretending I’m a rock star 

LN: Plini is an interesting sobriquet. As a student of ancient history I have to ask: is Plini a reference to either of the ancient scholars named Pliny? What’s the story behind your nom de guerre?

P: It’s my first name on my birth certificate! Named after a character (not either of the Roman dudes) in a book my mum was reading. Apparently Pliny the Elder is also the best beer in the world but I haven’t tried it :( 

LN: Your musical style has a variety of facets to it – melodic, heavy, jazzy, not-so-heavy... What or who would you say are some of your influences?

P: So much stuff, way too much to list but the stuff that probably comes out in my playing the most obviously would be all my guitar heroes - John Petrucci and Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Opeth, Guthrie Govan, Tosin Abasi... and more recently Jakub Zytecki and the dudes from CHON and Corelia. On the lighter side, Little Tybee, Django Reinhardt, Jon Gomm... it’s pretty much an endless list haha. 

LN: How does the fact that Plini is basically just you impact on your ability (or even desire) to tour?

P: I would love to play live and eventually tour, I know a bunch of really talented players who I could probably convince to learn my stuff, but with studying full time I don’t have the time or drive to really do it... yet. But some day I’d love to for sure. 

LN: On that note, just how solo a project is Plini? How solo would you like to keep it/do you intend to keep it?

P: I might eventually have session players for all the other instruments, but at the moment I like doing everything myself (other than guest parts, which are super fun to get cos there are so many people around the world whose playing I love). 

LN: What about vocals? What influenced your decision to have Plini be an instrumental project?

P: When I sing I sound like a dying animal, so it was a pretty easy decision to keep my voice away from everything. I do love vocals though so I’m gonna work with some awesome singers on some things and plan to do a lot more of that! Might eventually put some time into my own voice but not for a while... 

LN: What’s the Australian music scene (or the scene in your part of the country) like right now? Anything you’re really into, or that you think the rest of us should know about?

P: The other day my good friend Jake (who plays in 2 of my favourite metal bands, The Helix Nebula and Point Below Zero) showed me Maze, a local band who broke up a while ago but their EP “Empires & Endings” is one of my favourite things at the moment. Their singer Tobias (who I’m definitely gonna work with soon) started a new band with Northlane’s drummer called Glass Ocean, who sound realllllly promising. Other Aussies I love at the moment - Absent Hearts (a great Australian dude named Scott’s collaboration with Dan Tompkins who used to sing for Tesseract), and of course Karnivool, one of my fave bands of all time for sure. Karnivool’s singer’s other band Birds of Tokyo is also amazing. I don’t really know about the Australian music scene in terms of what’s ACTUALLY popular but I love all these dudes and there seems to be quite a lot of talent coming out. 

LN: I really like the cover art for Other Things. It says on the back of the EP that the art was done by Alex Pryle at Dead Crown Design, but perhaps you can talk a little more about the design itself. Was it all Alex, or did you have some input? Is it connected thematically/emotionally/conceptually somehow with the content of the EP?

P: It was pretty much all Alex, I said I wanted a handwritten font, I can’t remember who suggested having the heart and moon and trees and cogs... feels like we both came up with the same ideas at the same time and he just made it happen. I had some very minor changes to suggest like the colour tone of the front cover (“make it more like sunset... now make it less like sunset...”) and I told him to put the guy and girl from the front cover together on the disc... but I feel like he basically inserted himself into my brain and made exactly what I wanted before I really knew. As for connections, the objects refer to the song titles, I feel like the overall atmosphere is a pretty good representation of the music too. Can’t say enough good things about Alex, really great dude! 

LN: Other Things is a pretty solid debut EP if you ask me. What’s next for Plini?

P: It’s the first part of a trilogy of connected EPs that I’d like to release this year, whether the third part comes out at the end of this year or the beginning of next year I don't know but the second part will be out within the next couple of months. I’ve also got another EP, a split EP/collaboration with a good buddy of mine coming out probably before the sequel to Other Things. Then after that I have so much shit planned/sketched out that I want to do... Eventually I want to do a full length album but I don’t want it to just be a collection of 10 songs so it’d be something huge I spend a lot of time on... 

LN: Have you had any interest from any labels? Is that something you’re interested in/looking for, or are you content to stay indie and continue distributing your stuff online via means like Bandcamp?

P: A few have contacted me, small indie labels, but what they can offer isn’t that much of a step up from what I can do myself with the help of all the lovely dudes in bands far more popular than me that help spread the word and share my music. Plus I’m all over the place with the ideas I have for releases and release strategies so I like having it all in my own hands. Hand addressing CD envelopes isn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life, but the fact that there are people around the world who are buying my music is so ridiculously astonishing, that makes it fun :) 

LN: Speaking of labels and the ‘industry’ part of the music industry, what is your take on the success of indiegogo campaigns to crowdfund albums by bands like Protest the Hero and Misery Signals? Does it give you any ideas?

P: I was so happy to see how far over their goal Protest went, they’re a favourite of mine (Mis Sigs too) not only for their music but they seem like really friendly, honest people. I’d consider doing something like that at a way smaller scale, just pre-orders to fund the printing of CDs or merch really... but I’ve saved up and bought the gear that I think is enough to write and record and produce; I don’t think I’d do something like that to fund going into a studio to record because I don’t think for what I do, I need that level of equipment or budget. Maybe one day I can get an orchestra on a CD though... 

LN: What are your thoughts on Google Play?

P: Don’t know anything about it honestly, when I signed up to get my stuff on itunes and spotify, it was an option, but had an extra fee which I didn’t want to pay because my music is ultimately meant to be free anyway... I guess I should check it out if it’s gonna the next big thing in music sharing though 

LN: OK, a couple of quicker ones, some of which may also be sillier as well. Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?

P: Haven’t seen Star Trek, grew up with Star Wars and I love every single movie, including the prequel trilogy. And I’m sure I’ll love the new Disney trilogy too haha 

LN: Pat Metheny or Michael Hedges?

P: Not familiar with Michael Hedges but I’m a big fan of Pat Metheny! 

LN: Who’s your favourite classical historian, and why?

P: I don’t know my classical historians as well as my guitarists, but there is a lot of valuable stuff in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy that I think a lot of people today could (and should) learn from. 

LN: If you could make everyone stop what they’re doing and listen to one song right this minute, what song would it be?

P: Human Nature by Michael Jackson, if not the original then the Bad Rabbits cover. You can’t listen to that song and not be happy and I think people should stop what they’re doing and be more happy 

LN: If you could ask any member of any band any question, who would it be and what would you ask?

P: Either Guthrie Govan, can we jam and record together... or Hans Zimmer, can I come to your studio and have you write orchestral arrangements for me? :) 

LN: Dream Tour: who would you open for, or who would open for you?

P: I think I would die if I got to open for Dream Theater. More realistically though I think it would be super fun to go on tour supporting my boys in The Helix Nebula or Corelia or CHON. If I were touring and got to choose an opening act I would want either a ridiculously talented solo act like Jon Gomm, or a super fun/tight band like Dirty Loops. It would also be amazing to be part of a G3 type thing. So in answer to your previous question about touring, yes I really would LOVE tour someday haha. 

LN: Almost done. What have you been listening to lately?

P: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ album “The Heist” is one of my favourite recent albums, alongside Little Tybee’s “For Distant Viewing” (cutest music ever), Tesseract’s “Altered State” (their new singer rules), Disperse’s “Living Mirrors” (for me Jakub Zytecki is the most exciting young guitarist alive right now), Letlive’s “Fake History” (catchy as fuck), The Dear Hunter’s “Migrant” (they are way too good at writing songs), Zedd’s “Clarity” (favourite producer at the moment), Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for “The Holiday” (I wish I could write romantic comedy soundtracks), The Dillinger Escape Plan’s “One of Us Is the Killer” (you can’t go wrong with TDEP) ... and these are just in the last week really... 

LN: Last one! What’s your favourite metal album of all time?

P: Way too fuckin hard to say! Got into metal with bands like Lamb of God and Trivium, then onto Meshuggah and Opeth and Dream Theater... I guess Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence by DT would be up there but this question is unfair, you can’t spring something like this on me at the end of an interview!

And there you have it. Just like last time, big thanks/shout out to Plini for taking the time to give me some great answers to what I hope were some halfway decent questions. If this is the first time you're ever hearing about this Plini fellow, make sure to check him out on Facebook, Bandcamp, Youtube, and SoundCloud (among other places) to find out what all the fuss is about. You'll be glad you did.

Like last time, I'll offer a few thoughts that occurred to me while reading Plini's answers before we go:
- Plini is a very cool first name.
- Neither Plini nor any of you out there should feel discouraged in the slightest if you're not up on your classical historians. Trust me, it's information that, much to my dismay, isn't exactly the most useful in everyday life.
- It's very interesting to me that both of the people I've interviewed so far have advocated Michael Jackson songs. Two data points does not a statistically viable study make, but that's still 100% of Twenty Questions respondents so far.

Until next time, stay frosty everyone.

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