Plain Sails

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Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with Andy Chappell from unsigned London/Manchester band Plain Sails to find out more…

Who is in the band, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the band name?
The band consists of Andy Chappell (Vox/Guitars), Leigh Greenhough (Lead Guitar), Andy Tanaka (Bass/BV), Jack Bullock (Drums).

The band formed when Andy C met Leigh at a rehearsal studio after looking for musicians to form a band. They hit it off immediately and began curating the early tracks together, whilst looking for other musicians to complete the line up. Leigh knew Andy T from Uni, he was a guitarist but Leigh thought he may be interested in picking up the bass for us. He came down to a rehearsal and fitted the bill straight away and has developed what he does to really help the tracks evolve. Jack was last to join and met the band after connecting online. Although last to join he was the crucial final piece of the puzzle that really lifted the band to a stage where we could get serious about what we were doing and we've evolved and developed enormously and at an accelerated pace since the line up was completed in 2017.

Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
My influences really come from the 90's & 00's; bands like Oasis, The Killers, Coldplay, Radiohead etc have been and continue to be massive influences on the way I write and build a song. I'm also a massive fan of music before that era; the Beatles, Stones etc as this was always on in the house when I was small, my Dad is a big folkie too so people like Bert Jansch and John Renbourn are in there somewhere I'm sure.
Leigh is a fan of all things guitar and is a real tone purist. The Smiths and Johnny Marr in particular play a big part in his style, but there's a lot more going on in there too. He's also got a real love of Nile Rodgers (who doesn't?!) I think purely because of his composing genius! Really for him though it's all about tone and striving for real creativity within something that fits well in the piece whilst raising it to a new level. Not as easy as it sounds!
Andy T comes from a slightly different musical influence pool, in that he grew up listening to and being influenced by more metal, heavier bands. Killswitch Engage, Alter Bridge and Trivium were the sort of things he listened/listens to and oddly, although it's quite set apart from what we do on the face of it, the style of what he does really is reminiscent in a lot of senses and has become a part of our sound.
Jack also comes from a slightly heavier drumming background, bands like Royal Blood with that pounding rock drum feel are his sort of thing. Again this comes through in what we do and has made a real impact in the evolution of our sound from where it began.

We all listen to what's around at the moment and continue to develop what we do. There's a lot of interesting stuff out there and a lot that doesn't really interest us - the key thing is to stay true whilst developing. We have far more of a synth vibe now than we used to, something that has worked it's way in and we feel really works for us as we experiment with different things to try to develop and keep moving forward, but fundamentally we have a groove that we are now really beginning to hit our stride in in terms of style.

How would you describe your sound?
This is a really tough one and something we get asked a lot! The best answer we've come back with to date is that if you kinda threw all of the above influences into a bucket and added some synths you probably wouldn't be too far off! Ultimately we're a guitar based indie rock band, but there's far too much in there to really pigeon-hole it like that. Music has so many crossover points now that the lines really are blurred (which in the main is a good thing) and I think we're rolling with that, not as much as some maybe but more than others. We have softer, poignant moments where we try to grab you with lyrical sentiment and big, anthems choruses aimed at raising your pulse and getting you excited, and most of what's in between. Melody is a big thing for us and we want people to be able to recognise us and sing along. I guess our advice would be to go check it out and see if you can describe it, answers on a postcard please!

What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
Our latest single (released May 13th) is called 'Scars' and has been a concept for over a year, finally making it into a track that we're excited about with the message sent in the way we wanted it to be. As with all the writing it's rooted in personal experience, but this time is a lot more generalised; less specific around a moment or event, more a collective history and observation of emotional and internal conflict and the impacts that can have. It's a narrative and an observation of mental health and the impacts of life upon it.

Classically a scar is something people tend to want to hide. Physically it's something that's perceived as less than perfect, a blot on an otherwise 'normal' body. Mentally/emotionally this is also the case but can be far deeper reaching; although initially easier to hide in the sense that it's not physically visible, the manifestations tend to be just as damaging/impactful, if not more so in many cases, changing thought processes and emotional responses in an individual. I've had this idea around the meaning of the word and peoples' perception of what a scar is and what it means for a while and wanted to flip this on its head, sending a positive message of hope and support with a perspective on the subject that is open and accepting about being imperfect and that these imperfections in fact hold together all the inexperienced aspects of you. By going through trauma you inevitably evolve and change, but this is the natural order of life and whether it's a struggle or has made you stronger, everyone has them and everyone is a product of their experiences.

Therein lies the message of togetherness, of hope and support; it's ok either way and is nothing to feel ashamed of.

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What’s your local music scene like?
We're based both in London and Manchester (Leigh is born and bred and lives in Manchester) so our respective music scenes are vibrant, as you'd expect. They're also quite varied so there's always something interesting to see, whatever it is you're into. There's never an evening where something isn't going on, finding the time to go and appreciate it is the biggest challenge!

What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
So we're currently on a little mini-tour with some dates around the UK, which also encompasses a couple of festivals. We were in Leeds last week, Saturday June 1st we were at Camden Rocks festival - we played last year and couldn't wait to go back as it's bigger than ever this year. June 7th we're at Night People in Manchester and then June 23rd we're in Sheffield at West Street Live. Rounding it off on July 6th we're back in Manchester at R-fest which is being held in Retro. There are some more on the cards over the summer so be sure to check our website and socials, Facebook in particular, regularly for all our upcoming dates. We're looking at putting together another small tour later in the year and possibly a launch gig for our next single, so stay tuned.

With regards to releases we're currently finishing our next single which we're hoping to put out at some point in August, we're really excited about this one also as it's another step forward from our point of view. Expect trademark PS big choruses but something a little different also! We don't have any plans for an album at the moment, we flirted with the idea of releasing an EP this year but have decided to continue to release singles as regularly as we can. We want to keep delivering fresh material and not take time out to put a larger body of work together. At the stage we're at we want to keep building the momentum and remain visible. Everything we've put out we feel really stands up on its own and we're happy to continue doing this currently.

Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
To be honest at this stage we haven't really considered it! But if we're talking dream collaborations, for me I'd love to work with a Noel Gallagher or Chris Martin, someone like that. Life goal ticked off territory.

Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
We've had a few standard playing to the barman gigs in the early days, and there's definitely been a number of 'almost' moments where a nosedive on stage was narrowly avoided. The funniest moment... probably when Jack was asked what he was listening to in his headphones after we came off stage. We have production tracks, sound effects and that sort of thing running in the background and Jack needs to stay in time with them for it to work so we use a click system. He needs to hear it clearly on stage so he uses big cans to cancel out the stage noise. When asked what he was listening to (whilst we were on stage) he replied 'Limp Bizkit'. Hilarity obviously ensued.

What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
Just that we're four genuine, hardworking lads that put absolutely all we have into what we do. We all work full time as well as what we do with the band so are flat out in trying to make this a success and every piece of support means the absolute world to us. We're super passionate and want people most importantly to get something from our music that means something to them. Whether it's lyrically, musically or both the tracks are written and put together around a subject but designed to stir an appeal in the listener that will hopefully give them something that is important and make it feel directed or personal to them. It's about everyone, for everyone.

You can find out more about Plain Sails on their website or via Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Twitter or YouTube.