As one of Singapore’s most influential bands, Plainsunset have had a momentous career, playing on stages big and small. Even without releasing new tracks, the band managed to pull some of the biggest crowds as headliners for Baybeats 2016.
This year marks their twentieth as a band — a remarkable feat that is in true fashion to the enduring quality of punk rock. They have recently released a new single, ‘6/4‘, which will be part of their upcoming album, “Both Boxer & Benjamin”.
Watch the music video for ‘6/4‘ here, produced in collaboration with videographer Fandy Razak:
DANAMIC.ORG speaks to the band on their legacy and the challenges of making a band work for so long:
DNM: Congratulations on the release of your new single and forthcoming album! How do you think the new material differs from your previous work?
Nizam: Thank you, personally I don’t think it differs much. It’s just how we’ve progressed as a band.
Jon: I think in some ways it’s less punk. Certainly it’s feeling a bit more contemporary adult rock, and it was as if the guys around me were going “enough of the old aggressive approach”, and decided to touch their more sensitive sides. I think there’s a distinctly intricate approach to the guitars, and this is clearly our guitar album. More slow songs than before, I guess.
Helmi: From the young angsty teenagers boozing down beers with weird fashions statements to smart looking gentlemen with classic haircuts sipping whisky. That’s how I would describe the band’s journey. But we’re still punk at heart!
Sham: I guess there is a difference in song structure in some songs. At the end of the day it is still us.
This release coincides with the 20th year since the bands’ inception. What do you think are the factors that contributed to the longevity of the band?
Nizam: Being friends before being bandmates kinda helps I guess.
Jon: Has it been that long? *Groaaaannnnnnn*.… lots of beer, a lot of patience and focus I guess. But also space. There are periods we don’t see each other for a couple of weeks, and phases where we are meeting a couple of times a week. So I suppose balance is the key.
Sham: Patience and being able to juggle family, work and life.
What’s your favourite song to play live? Is there a song that you wish you could play more often?
Nizam: Hard to choose, I love them all.
Jon: More recently, I am wanting to play one of the new ones more, “Pioneer“. I am thinking about integrating some old ones in to balance the set off a little, but I won’t say names here, just to keep an element of surprise to the folks in the crowd who know the songs.
Helmi: It’s always nice to feel nostalgic once in a while. Any song from the first album [“Runaway”] will make me smile.
Sham: Favourite song to play live has to be... actually I cannot decide. I wish we could play that song called ‘Cindy Crawford‘ again from our “Runaway” album.
Plainsunset has been a huge inspiration for the next generation of local musicians. What do you think of the future of local music?
Nizam: It depends on the new generation. If the kids are united, they will never be divided.
Jon: I think they have surpassed us, many have utilised opportune moments we never had in our time in ways that have not let the scene down. In some ways, bands that go out of the country are as much ambassadors of the nation as the formal ones.
Helmi: Music evolves with trends. There’s nothing wrong in that, it’s a fact. But I hope there’s no more segregation between main genres and sub-genres which has been happening from many years back till now. It just promotes elitism.
Sham: I just wish that indie rock, hardcore, punk or bands of any other genre can play side by side in the same show.
The band has played Baybeats and toured all over the world. Is there a goal that you’d still like to achieve as a band?
Nizam: To be millionaires together.
Jon: I would love to have played alongside guys like Fugazi. Maybe to play a festival in Europe or the US to an appreciative crowd, because that’s the challenge—how do you win over a crowd that doesn’t know you? If you are able to do that, in a non-snappy or ‘safe’ way by playing exactly the same thing that everyone does at a gig or fest, then you’ve done well.
Helmi: To just keep playing in more festivals!!!!
Sham: I agree with Nizam. We tried for 20 years!
What’s one thing or event in your career that you wish you could do again?
Nizam: All of them… I just love playing live.
Jon: Tour DIY and musically ‘conquer’ another country that has a different skin colour from yours. It’s of course, an ego boost but all creatives are in one way or another, and that includes me.
If you could co-write a song with any musician or producer in any genre, who would it be?
Nizam: Joey Ramone. Too bad he’s gone.
Jon: I think maybe The Police. Andy Summers is one of my favourite guitarists and Sting‘s vocals rip your head off
Sham: Local Natives. Those harmony vocals!
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned from your time as a band?
Nizam: You’ll never get rich by playing in a band.
Jon: Work hard at being a team, but not to be too serious.
Helmi: Being tolerable with each other. Sometimes growing men have growing egos, so it has to be kept in check!
Sham: If you wanna stay together longer in a band, put your egos aside. It doesn’t have a place in the band, in the practice room and on/off stage. Once that kicks in you are in deep shit!
“Both Boxer and Benjamin” has a tentative release date within “the last quarter of 2016”. Plainsunset will be playing their final shows till early next year before disbanding.
Many thanks to Secret Signals.