Dundee newcomers PLASMAS' ability to channel the very best parts of 2000's indie and pair them with their very own youthful and refreshing persona sets the quintet apart from the crowd with ease.
Paired with equally pleasing visuals shot by Rory Barnes, the band's nostalgic new dream-pop cut 'Is It Everything You Want?' looks set to prime PLASMAS for their incoming breakthrough.
Hooked by the their hazy, nostalgic textures and joyful, uplifting energy, we caught up with frontman Ross McQueen to learn all about PLASMAS, their plans for the future and the Scottish music scene.
Hiya! Introduce us to PLASMAS - how did you come to make music together?
Hey! So our origin story isn’t that exciting to be honest. I was about 17 and just started getting really obsessed with music and I really wanted to start a band despite not playing anything. I learned a bit of guitar and I knew Conor (lead guitar) had a home recording setup, so I asked him to help me record some acoustic demos. The songs were awful, but we instantly connected musically and he agreed to join the band. We kept writing and developing our sound, but it was pretty stagnant for a couple years, then I met Sam (drums) and Rory (synth) at uni and asked them to get involved too. It all really kicked off from there and we started booking some gigs in Dundee. James (bass) joined the band a couple years later when our old bass player left and that was a pivotal moment in the band. It never really felt complete until then. We have such a strong connection as a group and we all just love making music together. I think it helps that our tastes are so similar, it feels like everyone has really bought into the direction of the band, there’s definitely a collective vision.
You’re based in Dundee, very much amongst a wave of exciting new Scottish talent. How does it feel to be surrounded by so much exciting, local talent?
Yeah, it’s actually incredible how much exciting music there is coming from in and around Dundee at the moment. It feels like it’s just getting better, and it seems like there’s much more of a scene now than when we first started out. We’re honestly so proud to be a part of it. Parliamo are absolutely smashing it at the minute which is great to see because they’re class. There’s this new band called Gossiper too and I’m actually in love with their new single, such a cool sound. There’s so much talent within the scene and I think the next step is to take it to a wider audience, the potential is there for sure.
Would you say the Scottish scene is a supportive environment for a band like yourselves?
I would say so, yeah. Everyone’s in the same boat so there is that feeling of togetherness with other bands, we’re always looking to play shows together and create a bit of a local buzz. I think it works well that way because everyone’s kind of lending their momentum to each other and it helps the scene grow. It’s all about just looking out for each other really, we’ve made so many great friends through playing shows! In terms of industry support, for us there’s always been a pretty clear path towards growth through working with promoters like DF Concerts. You start off supporting touring bands in your hometown and then if you can build a reputation through that then you can make your way up the bills and start playing further afield. It’s definitely a supportive environment overall but being from Dundee it’s felt like it can sometimes be difficult getting our name out there. Everyone’s always saying how much good music is coming from Dundee just now, which there is, but because it’s such a small city it doesn’t get the same attention compared to somewhere like Glasgow. It’s a constant graft, but we love it.
Your sound feels a lot like a nod to the B-Town indie of 2013-2016, do you think that’s a natural result of you growing up listening to those bands or is it something you’ve purposefully tried to create?
It’s a bit of both I think. We all grew up listening to that kind of stuff so a lot of it bleeds through subconsciously, but we definitely did set out to be a ‘dreamy’ kind of band. Catchy pop melodies mixed with excessive amounts of reverb, it’s just the one! There’s quite a wide range of influences that inspire our song-writing, but we do try to keep it in this sonic realm. We also use a lot of 80s inspired synth lines that tend to be the main hook of the song which I think adds an interesting element on top of the shoegaze influenced guitars and vocals. It’s all been done before but we’re not trying to do anything revolutionary, we’re just making the music that we like listening to!
Talk us through your new single ‘Is It Everything You Want’, what’s the story behind that one?
So this song actually came about way back when we had just started the band! I think even before Sam and Rory joined, which is mental because that was years ago. It’s weird because every other song that we wrote from that period is nowhere near that standard, but Conor sent me over the instrumental demo of this and it totally blew me away at the time. This song’s been dropped a few times over the years, but it kept finding it’s way back into our live set. We weren’t even going to record it, but we thought it would be cool to kind of draw a line in the sand for that era of the band before we move onto the newer stuff. It’s one of them where after every gig people would always point this one out as their favourite, and I think it’s important to swallow your pride sometimes and take that kind of stuff on board. You can get too caught up in which song you think is ‘better’ but it’s totally subjective and if other people love it then there must be a reason why. I remember feeling really self-critical at the time when I wrote these lyrics, they have such a carefree attitude but that’s not how I was feeling at all. It was almost written from the perspective for the person I wished I could be. Going back and recording this song was quite cathartic actually, it gave me a chance to reflect on the last few years and I think I’ve come a long way since then, I definitely feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin now.
Rumour has it you have an EP on the way later in the year, what can you tell us about that?
No way! Word travels fast, doesn’t it? Yeah, nothing’s set in stone yet but that’s definitely the plan! We’re looking to have it recorded by the end of the year and hopefully have the full EP out by next summer. All the tracks are finished on our end and we really can’t wait to move onto this next phase of the band, we all feel like it’s a massive step forward quality-wise. There’s not really much to say on it just now, but we do think it’s going to be a great soundtrack for summer. That’s the goal anyway!
Let’s talk long term, what’s the ‘bucket list’ aim for you as a band?
Long term’s not something we’ve really given much thought to be honest, we kind of just take it as it comes and try not to have too much high expectations. We’ve never played a festival before and that’s been one of our dreams from the start, so that’s on there for sure. Would really love to put something out on vinyl too and hopefully we’re not too far away from being at that stage. Pretty attainable bucket list I’d say, we’re easily pleased! I’ve always said I’d be happy to reach a point where we could tour the UK, sell out some small venues, and have people sing our songs back to us. That’d be more than enough for me. It really just feels like we’re getting started now though so we’re just looking to take this as far as it can go!
And how are things looking for you in terms of live shows, do you have any plans in the works? Anyone particular you’d like to play alongside sometime soon?
We’ve got a couple of hometown shows booked in before the end of the year but that’s all for now. We’ve got one this month with The Roov which we can’t wait for, we’ve done a couple gigs with them before and it’s always so much fun! Then we have one in November with happy tears and Jeshua who are both amazing, so we’re really excited for that one too! We had our first gig back last month and it was such an amazing feeling, life just hasn’t been the same without live music. I’m not sure actually, if we could get on the bill with JAWS one day then I’m pretty sure we could all die happy!