Six Of The Best – PLAZA | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Photo by Joe Spence

Hartlepool’s post-indie quartet, PLAZA have recently released their excellent new EP, wernotplaza II via CLUE Records; an honest and cathartic set of songs recorded by rising producer Alex Greaves at The Nave studio in Leeds, (also responsible for songs from Working Men’s Club, Bdrmm and Heavy Lungs).

The band’s chaotic live shows have seen them build up a cult live following across the UK and have attracted the attention of Huw Stephens and Phil Taggart at BBC Radio 1, John Kennedy at Radio X and various national music publications.  Below, bass player Will Hamilton gives us Plaza’s six biggest influences.

William Bowerman – If you’re not familiar with William Bowerman’s work he currently grafts as the musical director for some massive artists (Dua Lipa, Tom Walker, St Vincent). Before this he was the drummer of a band called Brontide. This band essentially turned us into the musicians we probably are today. There isn’t a great deal of similarities in our music but I remember us all absolutely fanboying (like fully geeking out) over their tunes when we first started out. We loved the technicality of it all. This is around the time when ‘Math Rock’ was half trendy. They were an instrumental 3 piece that sadly disbanded not long ago but they made the naughtiest jams. Me and Bolo were lucky enough to catch Brontide at a show in Middlesbrough about 5 years ago and they blew our tits off. Anyways, after they disbanded I was left thinking “what an absolute waste of an unbelievable drummer”. A year later, I once again see him behind the old pots and pans- this time smashing out New Rules by Dua Lipa at the Brit awards. Mental world, the music industry. Might just be me but when I listen to Dua Lipa tunes now, the whole time I can’t help thinking “Jesus christ William Bowerman must have done that bit there, it’s so clever”. Some boy. 

Technology has a big influence on us as a band. We really like the idea that technology is still being explored and there is a lot we don’t know yet. It’s constantly advancing and changing. Hearing a sound in a track that you’ve never heard before, we feel is a lot more rewarding and refreshing than hearing a guitar riff that some hairy white geezer has half robbed off Slash. Whether it be a warped synth lead, or a trippy percussive element, the ways of creating it and tweaking it could be endless. This is something we are very keen to incorporate into our music. We half got into the swing of writing straight-up 4 chord guitar tunes because we knew it would get a few Luddite radgies singing along. We got sick of that really quick and started pushing as many buttons on as many Synths as we could. 

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer – These men probably did as much for our friendship as making music together did. Their comedy is relatable in the most northern way imaginable. Dr Shakamoto and the “Jack Dee with your face like a..” skits script a massive percentage of our time together. May they live long and prosper for many years to come.

Social Media – It’s crazy how important it is nowadays. Half scary to be honest. It is absolutely essential in the industry today if you wanna succeed. As a band, we try to hammer socials as much as we can and stay as active as possible. My god though, if you utilise it properly it doesn’t half work. Most of the best shows we’ve ever played have been ones that we’ve blagged through Facebook or Twitter etc. We’ve been lucky enough to play with some of our favourite bands, one of those being Blaenavon. Although we’d met the lads a couple of times, we added Ben (vocalist and legend) on Facebook and developed an interesting relationship from there. We pretty much tagged him in the most embarrassing stuff until he asked us to jump on some shows with them. I tagged him in an advert of someone selling a proper crusty old caravan hoping the dodgy geezer selling it would message him. I think that was the tip of the iceberg. Ben subsequently asked us to do a few shows on their album tour and later deleted Facebook for good. Thanks Ben. 

William Egglestone – A photographer who depicted everyday object and scenes. In the same way we try and describe our lives via music (as vivid as it may seem) – Egglestone used exuberant colours, precise composition and evocative allure to narrate the perceptions in question. Although as a comparison Egglestone’s work may differ conceptually to the way present our music, I like to think that we harvest our songs in a way that can be depicted in a completely different consciousness, depending on the listener (viewer). Some of his work imbues an ominous or dreamlike quality, a notion in which we try to incorporate when writing our tunes 

All four of us grew up in Hartlepool. All different ends of the town, all completely different musical upbringings, all completely different financial backgrounds. Growing up here, there’s not a great deal to do other than get mortal and fling stones at people – fortunately, we’re all lucky enough to be best pals as well as musical acquaintances, so finding a mutual love for making the same style of music in a town as small and as warped as Hartlepool is a proper blessing. Hartlepool’s scene is a very small group of musicians who all play in each other’s bands and jam with each other as much as possible and it’s this concept of “it’s us against the world” that I think is the primary driving force behind all of the great music that our spooky little town churns out. There’s something in the water man.

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