-Interview- Plaid On Flannel (10/2/17)

Nolan from Plaid On Flannel talks about the "Get On!" EP, the Canadian music scene and much more.


From: Toronto, Canada
Sounds like: Rock

1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound? Who thought of the name “Plaid On Flannel” and is there any meaning behind it?

I started playing guitar in 2002. Throughout high school, I discovered classic bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, & Black Sabbath. I learned to play classic songs from countless artists. I eventually taught myself how to sing and started writing my own material. After graduating college in 2010, I came up with the name Plaid On Flannel. I wrote it down while writing a song called "When Will Everything Begin?" I knew it was the name I wanted to go with. The aesthetic appeal, the way it rolls off the tongue, and what it represents were all things I felt strongly about. Plaid On Flannel rhymes with my full name (Nolan Randall). I look at the plaid design in clothing as neutral fashion, and a type of fashion that never goes out of style and represents timelessness. That's what I want Plaid On Flannel's music to represent. I've evolved as writer over the past 15 years, but since POF launched in 2011, I've taken on a new and more flourished form of development. Bringing in my own band really helped on how I write songs to be performed live. The sound has been developed into something distinctive, but it's always evolving and I think that's what's most important. Music is an infinite universe.

2. What do you want people to take away from your "Get On!" EP?

I want it to bring out the emotions and soul in people. I want people to see that rock and roll is still alive and there are people all over the world who believe that and want that in their lives. I want them to learn the lyrics and memorize the grooves in these songs. I spent a lot of time writing them and experiencing them so to speak. The "Carnival" concept for the album was something I thought of during our recording sessions. Having an album cover with instruments in front of a carnival. The presence of keyboards on the record gave it a carnival-like feel. And I thought of life being like a carnival. You walk around, you see the rides, you smell the cotton candy. You want to find out which roller coaster best suits your desires. The title track "Get On!" could be perceived as getting on with your life (Getting on a carnival ride) and not being stuck in a place you never wanted to be in to begin with. It's about courage.

3. How would you describe your sound to the average listener?

Well, Plaid On Flannel of course falls under the Rock genre. But for sub-genres, there's Retro Rock, Stoner Rock, Alternative, 70s Hard Rock, Indie Blues, & Roots Rock. I usually like to describe my main influences which includes Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wolfmother, R.E.M., Pink Floyd, Rival Sons, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Soundgarden/Audioslave, & Black Sabbath. Among many others.

4. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

Of course there are veteran bands like the Rolling Stones & Aerosmith that I think anyone would want to tour with. But as for bands that aren't as deep into their careers, I would pick Wolfmother, Rival Sons, and Monster Truck.

5. What are your three desert island albums that you'd never get tired of listening to?

The Beach Boys - "Pet Sounds" / Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Stadium Arcadium" / Nirvana - "Nevermind".

6. What’s your take on the current state of Rock?

It's a complicated issue. The general public perception is that today's rock is the worst it's ever been since it started up in the 1950s. Major record companies are controlling what people listen to. And they're generally giving them a bland and tepid product with little to no substance. They're unable to make enough revenue due to file sharing and technological developments like smartphones. Record companies seem to have lost any integrity they used to have back with the Beatles and Nirvana for example. Because major record companies will not take risks on artists that don't fit this "safe and easy" sound that is starting to become a cliche of this current decade. Therefor, you will not have artists like Guns 'N Roses and Nirvana that represented a counterculture to what was going on at that time. And it was innovative. There are artists out there capable of doing what all these bands did in the past. Millennials are the smartest and most educated generation in human history. It's not like there's nobody out there that could be the next Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. But that's what people seem to think because of what they hear on the radio and on their television. There are real artists out there and they're doing it the right way. The problem is most people don't want to go to great lengths to find the kind of music that they need in their lives. They need that music, but it's easier when it's delivered to them on a mass level through major labels like it was in the 20th century. We are moving into a new era and the old era is never coming back. The way we listen to music, the way we consume and spend our money on a brand is changing. It's just taking awhile. I believe rock will come back and explode again. Once everything is figured out while trends and pop culture move in a different direction.

7. What’s the current music scene like there in Canada both locally and country wide?

The music scene in Toronto is pretty good. But venues are closing down due to increased rent prices and smaller draws. The "Netflix and chill" revolution is hurting establishments that offer entertainment. People will always love live music, but people are less patient with music they're unfamiliar with. Even if it's really good. And it's expensive to go out and pay for $10 drinks all night. Montreal is a great city for live music. I find the crowds are more enthusiastic and passionate. My hometown of Peterborough is very artistic and it's always fun playing shows there. I haven't been anywhere else in Canada and would like to tour the entire country.

8. What’s your take on legal/illegal music downloading?

I say let people download what they want. Whether it's illegal or legal, that's all up to the person. That's the way it is. Like I said earlier, we are in a new era and the old era is never coming back. Artists must find new ways to make money and offer their consumers something of value.

9. What’s next for Plaid On Flannel?

I'm putting together a new lineup of musicians that are ready to tour and record. The band I had over the last 3 and a half years did well, but weren't interested in doing music for a living. They're middle-aged and I'm looking for new guys in their 20s that are hungry for the rock. I've been working at a brewery for years now and I'm planning an exit strategy so I can do Plaid On Flannel full-time by 2018.

10. Any shoutouts?

Yes. I'd like to send a shoutout to my former bandmates Les, Jen, and Minas who played on the 2 Plaid On Flannel EPs. Without them in the mix, these recordings wouldn't exist. Which is why I'm giving them full credit on their contributions to the records.