Can we start with your musical background – who are you and who are The Placks? The Placks are a fairly new band, how did the band get together and what was the inspiration after your long punk career (if punks can have careers) to bring in strong Celtic influences to your music?
The Placks was a wee idea in the back of my head for years that wouldn’t go away. I have played in bands since I was in school and over the years have been lucky enough to have toured with bands like Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, UK SUBS, The Business and a few others, in my bands Beerzone and Control, and they all used to say the same thing to me, “Iain, being a proud Celt, you really ought to add some Celtic/Folk instruments to songs”. They all thought I wrote catchy, melodic songs so thought it would be very interesting.
When people like Charlie Harper (UK SUBS), Ken Casey and Tim Armstrong say you should try something other than just straight up punk, you tend to listen!
Saying that though, I have never chased the money, obviously or would not had a “career” in Punk Rock, and things have to feel right before I will try something.
When I moved home 5 years ago I was thinking “if I don’t do this now I never will” and I started getting more and more songs ideas, choruses and melodies in my head when I was out running so I thought “this is my late father trying to tell me something”, he was a musician all his life, Jazz, and died a few minutes after coming off stage.
The band are basically a couple of people that live locally to me and a bunch of amazing folk players who live mainly, dotted round the Glasgow area. There are 10 of us, guys and girls, at the moment, so would take way too long to try remember all their names and what they play!
Regarding adding strong Celtic influences, if someone like myself with huge Scottish and Irish heritage and nine other Celts can’t play Celtic music, who the hell can? This really is the Real McCoy, John, it really is. I just hope folks get the chance to experience our music and live shows.
I still play in my punk band, Control. I have put too much hard work into it to let it fall by the wayside and after 5 critically acclaimed albums, it is already a reasonably established name in the Punk World. Our second album, Punk Rock Ruined My Life, was the album that attracted Rancid to us asking if we wanted to play some shows with them and the album title has been stolen and used absolutely everywhere, including in the states. Hell it’s a back-handed compliment really.
The band are based 7 hours apart from each other, so I needed to keep busy so this was ideal and killed two birds with the one stone, as I am forever coming up with song ideas, unintentionally most of the time!
I will be out running and get this song in my head, and think “oh no I have 40 minutes until I get home”, so sing it on repeat until I get home, or would risk losing the timing/melody then get home and sing it straight in to my phone then pick up the bass and get the shape of the tune, then send it to the real musicians!
Can you tell us about Rebellious Son the new single from The Placks, what/who is it about?
It is a song I wrote as a tribute to my father but it could have been written by any son who has been a scallywag and given their parents a lot of stress and worry, but it’s to say I may be wild, but I will always be your loving son.
How has the reaction been to the single so far?
Only a few people have heard it as it come out this Friday, 12th June, video released on Thursday for it, but the reaction has been hugely positive. Charlie Harper said “A lump in my throat, a tear in my eye. On second hearing you are just swept away. I love the band, you will rule the world when they open it up again”
What makes a great Placks song?
A new songwriter and better musicians? Ha ha! The guys/girls will shoot me for this, they are all great really.
In all seriousness, it has to have genuine sentiment, a huge Celtic flavour, huge melodies and big choruses so the whole crowd can raise their glasses and singalong. We have heavier punky tunes, more folky tracks, acoustic tracks and outright uptempo, Celtic, Ceilidh, feet-stomping barnstormers. Hopefully something for everyone.
Rebellious Son is the bands second (?) single. Are there plans for a full-length album in the not too distant future?
Yeah, we recorded a 4 track demo CD as we were offered a show with Flogging Molly in Brittany in France last January so I thought we need to have something with us incase people like us and want to grab some merchandise as there will be around 5000 there so it was too big an opportunity to waste if we made a good first impression. Alas the show was cancelled due to the civil unrest in France.
The first official release was “My Dearest Friend”, released 28th March this year and it has been very well received with it getting radio play on Celtic Crush, on Sirius XM, thanks to your good self for introducing me to Larry Kirwan, and on the Celtic Music Radio Network as well as some independents from Hawaii to to the East Coast! Over here in Scotland it has been played on a handful of stations and only last night, 8th June, it was played for the first time on Radio Scotland, the biggest station by far over here. Not bad for a band with one song!!
It also broke into the top ten of Amazon’s Alternative Charts just after release too, not bad going for a brand new band!
The debut album/full-length was scheduled for release around August but has been pushed back a few months as we can’t get in the studio due to Covid-19.
I always try take positives from every situation and I am telling everyone this global pandemic has allowed us more time to select what tracks should be on the album and in my opinion, will be the difference between a 7 outta ten and a 9 outta ten, or perhaps a 3 outta ten instead of a 1 outta ten, but you get my drift!!
Any plans to tour once the world returns back “normal”?
We would absolutely love to come over and play for you guys stateside, it would be a dream come true, and I genuinely think people would like this crazy wee fusion of Celtic and Folk music we have created.
We have been talking with NYC’s Tartan Week and they are very keen to try work something out where we could play the festival and only yesterday I was talking to someone involved in Celtic Crush who said we should come over and tour, as there are so many cities and clubs that she thinks would be interested in booking us. Larry Kirwan said he hoped to see us over touring too as thinks we will go down great stateside.
Being based in Scotland, how is the scene there? Any bands you recommend we should check out?
The Celtic Punk scene is still too new to me but we played a couple of shows in early March with The Rumjacks, which were a huge success all round and we had the pleasure of seeing The Gallowgate Murders in the flesh, a young band from Edinburgh, who were great and also more importantly to me, great people too.
I think the Scottish and UK audience seem to be into Celtic bands based in North America and Australia as let’s be honest, that’s where the biggies are based and until someone comes along from over here and shows the world what they can do, then it will remain the same. Easier said than one though as Dropkicks and Flogging Molly in my opinion are superb acts, but I do love a challenge! In my dreams really but you have to aim high if you believe in something, otherwise, what was the point, an what’s the worst that can happen, you don’t reach those stars but you find you are higher up the ladder than you would have been if you did not get it your best shot?
Finally, rumour has it The Placks are now big in Texas. Any truth to that?
Ha ha! I wish! We are not even big in our living rooms, never mind in that place you mentioned that takes about 24 hours to drive through, not a 24-hour drive thru, 24 hours to drive through! We are being played on the radio there though on “Folk Fury” this Saturday, 13th June, on KTEP-FM.
So ya never know!!!!!
Thanks for your support mate and hope you like this, laced with humor as i can’t be serious too long.