Check out this great interview I conducted with Chris Duggan, the vocalist and guitarist of Colombus Ohio's Plaid Brixx!
First off, thank you for being here! Okay, first question. Tell me a little bit about the history of the band name. Where does the name, the spelling, all of those details come from?
Well, every band needs a name, and arguably, it’s one of the hardest things to come up with. It has to say a lot with just a little amount of time. There are a lot of things that go into it. It took me like a year to come up with Plaid Brixx. I had been brainstorming hundreds of ideas, and then one day, I had an idea. I thought that it would be really cool to see a plaid brick wall; it was completely unrelated to brainstorming. I told it to some people and they said “oh that would be cool!” Plaid Bricks got stuck in my head. I thought, “that has a nice ring to it! It sounds a little punk. Let’s roll with that!” And then I guess the X’s looked cooler, and that’s what you get. (laughs)
I have never seen a plaid brick wall, that IS an interesting thought!
Yeah! It could be one or two of the bricks in a plaid pattern that stick out, or it could be the whole thing done, arranged in a plaid pattern.
How did the band originally come together? How long did it take for the current lineup to be where it is now?
That only happened about a couple months ago. I was looking for people to play some songs of mine, and it just kind of became a band. I played with them in high school when were fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. It was a really shitty punk band, playing stupid songs. Like, we had a song about a yeti named Norman. Like, stupid, fun songs. I called them up, looking to see if they wanted to play some music, and they both happened to be down with it. We also just added a keyboard player, who went to high school with us. We said, “we should call him! He played with us too!” We just put that together, he was in town, and boom! We all scattered to the winds, and now, after college, we’re back in a band, and here we are.
Tell me a little bit about the writing process for the Chemistry EP. How long did the entire process take for writing and recording these five songs?
Probably about a year, because I recorded live rock versions of them beforehand. Then I re-tooled them to the electronic rock arrangements that you hear. It took about a year. It was a lot of writing and rewriting, and playing with synth sounds.
The whole process alone for auditioning synth sounds can take forever. Especially with the plug-ins that they have available now. There’s literally thousands of sounds.
You can get Oscilator One to do this. You can get an Analog synth, and then tweak it. I love to use Massive, that’s the plug-in that I love.
Where do the lyrics from the song Chemistry stem from?
I was going through a pretty rough break up. The girl that was breaking up with me said “I wish that we had never dated!” in the middle of the fight. I thought, when people say that do they really mean it? Because you learn so much about yourself, and what you want in a relationship that it’s not really a waste of time to have dated someone, even if it goes poorly in the end. It’s trying to find a positive in a shitty breakup. I’m still glad I spent all of this time with her, even though it ended badly.
I agree. Everything is a learning experience.
It’s just a defeated attitude, to waste time dwelling on that stuff. I’m a chipper guy. (laughs).
You worked with producer Richard Barone on this EP. What did he bring to the table?
I learned so much from him in the studio when we were cutting the live rock version. I learned so much about dressing up the song, and adding the bells and whistles. I think it was Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy who said, “the band bakes the cupcake, and the producer puts the frosting and sprinkles on it”, and I learned exactly what he meant by working with Richard. I brought the strong foundation of these songs to the table, and he helped me dress them up in a way that was appetizing.
These next two questions I ask to every artist that I interview. The first: what kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I’d like them to walk away with an overwhelmingly positive message, about how they can take things on in their lives, and try and learn from their mistakes and not dwell on them. See everything as a learning opportunity, instead of feeling defeated or sad. Also, I hope that they are excited about finding a new band that they really like. I’d like, with the songs, for people to be entertained, and latch onto, not just to express myself.
Second: What does music mean to you?
Basically, everything, I would say. (laughs) Since I was like four, I knew that I wanted to do music stuff. I’ve been working to make it my occupation. I remember my Dad took me to a Smashing Pumpkins concert, and that’s one of my first memories of music, when I was four or five at the Target Center in Minneapolis. I still have the concert ticket stub. I just remember being “Oh my god! They’re so cool! I want that to be me!”
Was that kind of your moment where you decided, “this is what I want to do”?
Yes. I didn’t even know how I was gonna do it, I was four or five. It’s like my earliest memory. I said “I don’t know how I’m gonna do that, but that’s what I wanna do.”
Last question: what are the future plans for Plaid Brixx right now?
Our EP comes out on July 8th! We are playing in Colombus at the Fashion Meets Music Festival, a day and night festival in Cleveland. We’re booking shows regionally, and perhaps exploring other opportunities to play New York and LA in the future. What we’re most excited about is working on our full-length album right now. I had about fifty ideas that I distilled down to about fifteen or so of the best. I conjoined them, and made them into fifteen really solid canvases, so I just have to figure out where those brush strokes on the canvas go.
This has been another shameless promotion.