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Plastic Furs, Spell Talk



This past week for me was a vacation from the dayjob, a lot of it was spent relaxing and basically doing nothing beyond blog posts. Had some drinks, caught up with people, got sucked into video games. Not to mention lunches galore that included getting a big red and white cake, that's another story to be told another day. But eventually I knew I had to go out to cover a show this week. And damn if I didn't pick a good one!

--- This past Wednesday at Club Vegas, Radio Moscow and NAAM passed through town on their national tour, barely surviving the weather and car trouble to make it in. But opening the show (City Weekly sponsored no less) were the Plastic Furs, as well as Spell Talk, who have changed their name after nearly two years of being The Naked Eyes. I got a chance to sit down and chat with Plastic Furs, and I'm currently getting Spell Talk's done via proxy as the band immediately took off on tour after playing (check back for them later). Not to mention a hefty load of photos for you to check out over here.

The Plastic Furs (Justin Langford, Bryan Mink & Stefanie Marlow)

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Bryan: I'm a good man.

Justin: I'm never bored. I always have something to do that I'm always trying to finish. I've been listening to Gary Glitter lately at Bryan and Stefanie's place. It's great.

Stefanie: I love a good time. I'm a humanist and I'm very opinionated.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Bryan: Music got me interested in music. Growing up, and a lot recently, I listened to The Misfits at least when I really started to care about it. I also had an affinity to 60's and 70's R&B like the Ronnettes and the Supremes, etc. I can contribute that to my sister Maurena. I still love that stuff.

Stefanie: I have to agree with Bryan and say music got me interested in music. There are so many different perspectives out there and so many different ways to express them. I love the freedom that music allows, and how it can influence and touch people. Music holds so many meanings. Oh God...I can keep going...but I better stop.

Gavin: How did you originally form the first incarnation of The Furs?

Bryan: I was 20 living in my apartment writing and recording songs by myself on a 4-track and then randomly had the opportunity to play bass in a band. Having no experience in the scene or in really playing music with other people I decided to join, this band was called "Evolver". Through this I met James Acton, who was the drummer at the time, he and I quickly found that we had similar taste in music and through spending time together and showing each other what we each had done on our own four tracks, we decided to form a band.

Gavin: What drove you to do more of the harder psychedelic rock, and how was it for you creating that sound and making it unique to your style of playing?

Bryan: The heavier psychedelic music, more so the Neo Psych bands, is what I was originally listening to and what I've always wanted to do with what I was creating but didn't know how to get there. Considering that I'm actually a fairly new musician. I've only been playing since I was 19 or 20. Along the lines of making it my own and making it in general, really just came with the experience that I was getting along the way. I always felt that I could write songs and that I had a certain way of writing songs that could maybe be compared to other Psychedelic bands, but I felt and still feel that my style is uniquely my own. It may not be the best, yet, but it is mine.

Stefanie: I can't speak for what drove Bryan to do heavier music, but I can say that when we got together to play music that it was instant. The emotions that came out. It was just heavier and more meaningful.

Gavin: What was the recording process like behind the Taste Blue album, and what difficulties did you deal with along the way?

Bryan: Well, for starters, none of us really had any recording experience, but we had some idea of what should be done along the lines of how to mic and we were fortunate enough to have some friends who had a studio and would answer our questions. Those guys are Voxhaull Nova at the Star Farm Studios behind Positively Fourth Street. It was still pretty arduous because we had only one mic, it was my vocal mic and it was a karaoke mic. We used that one mic to record the entire album. Drums were done in three parts, where the drummer would play his parts and his bass drum would be miked, then he would have to play again with the mic hanging above him to get the toms and snare and then we would mic the hats and the snare. That was the hardest part.

Gavin: How was the overall experience recording at Apricot and having the chance to put a professional touch on the album?

Bryan: The overall experience was fine to me considering that I didn't have anything to compare it to, but in hindsight it was really time consuming and hellish, but I got a chance to play just about every instrument on the album (minus drums - that was Keaton and James). Recording with Justin has been far smoother.

Justin: Actually, once the album was 95% tracked I had the chance to bring it over to Great West Saloon (it wasn't easy for Bryan and I to get a hold of the project files considering the band had just broken up) and start mixing in additional vocals and percussion. Everything had to be transferred over to another recording DAW (Nuendo 3), which took a while. After that though, mixing went really smooth (even though we burned out an amazing computer in the process). The whole idea from the get go was to follow the Phil Spector "wall of sound" mixing process, even though we kept the mix more traditional. We went with a more modern master. Louder and pumpier to compete with most albums coming out at the time.

Gavin: What was the public reaction like to the album when it was finally released?

Bryan: Great. The reviews were very complimentary. The public response was surprising as well. Our album release show was, I think, sold out and I didn't even know we had that many "fans". The album sales from that night alone paid for all the pressing, and the shirts. Everything. I was definitely shocked when basically every day when I would turn on KRCL I would hear one of our songs playing.

Gavin: Throughout time you've had lineup changes, going from a five piece to a trio. Was it an issue keeping the group together through transitions? And how did you finally arrive at the current lineup and name change?

Bryan: What group? I'm the only one left. It was more annoying, and that's about it. I always knew that I was going to be making music with or without anybody. My drive was there and my drive is still here and if anyone wants to play too, then great. We can play together. Regarding the new lineup, the last three piece I had (including Stefanie Marlow, the current drummer, and Matt Hill the previous bass player) was reaching the end and we now needed a new bass player. Justin Langford, the current bass player, was a good friend and already involved on the recording mixing end of the band. He had shown some interest in playing and I really wanted him to play as well. That's how we have the lineup now. Pertaining to the name change, we had already been thinking about changing our name considering the other "Furs" bands that had existed and do exist. I also wanted something that described the music that we were making better and where I was personally. Plastic Furs describes us to a tee.

Gavin: During this time, how was it recording the self-titled EP, and what were the differences between this one and the full length?

Bryan: It was easier, but different. Considering the difference in members and the new style of music. That's about all I can say.

Stefanie: The self-titled EP was my first REAL experience recording. I had a good time with it. Writing and playing is a creative process, but recording is a whole different creative process in itself. You really have to paint a picture through audio and it's difficult to do that without the visual, but at the same time it's very satisfying.

Gavin: Last year you were one of the finalists for the CWMA's. What was that experience like for you guys and seeing the support you had from the scene?

Bryan: It was good. I really enjoyed it. I think I saw some write up or picture of us every week in City Weekly issues last year, and everyone started to take us seriously instead of some fledgeling psych band.

Stefanie: I think I went into it very shocked. I mean we had been together for about six months and we were on the stage with a band that was already signed (Neon Trees). I'm very grateful for the support that we had from the local scene, but I kind of feel that the support we had then had a lot to do with the previous lineup since we were so new.

Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to do the video for “Slide”, and what was it like filming that?

Bryan: The filmmaker is Justin's roommate (Kathy Nation) and she was interested in making a film for the X96 Film Festival, and Stefanie and I were interested in acting in it. That was really difficult considering that I had never acted before and I had dedicated myself to doing the best I could. Which required me getting fairly involved in the movie emotionally.

Stefanie: I was just there. Kathy would need an extra person and since I was always around it was more so coincidental that I ended up in it.

Gavin: Currently you have a brand new album in the works. How is that process coming along and when can we expect that out?

Justin: It's going pretty smooth as of now. Releasing the EP has slowed us down a little bit. It had to be a final mix and master while the other songs are being held off. We're holding off for a couple months to finish tracking. We plan on spending a lot of time on the mix. What you hear live is just about what to expect from the album.

Stefanie: I think right now, we are looking at September/October as the release date.

Bryan: I hope it will come out around then. I make no promises because it doesn't need to be out by a certain time and I'm going to make this the best album that I can.

Gavin: Are there any plans to tour afterward or mainly playing gigs for now?

Stefanie: We do have plans to tour, but since our album is coming out near winter time they'll be more weekend tours and then a bigger tour in the spring.

Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Bryan: I really love the scene, but I don't think there are enough people making music. And by making music I mean making alternative, subversive music. Utah is infamous for making emo and metal bands, and making A LOT of those types of bands. I just want more diversity. Some of the most interesting music that's coming out right now from this scene is from the "older" group, and there's a huge gap between them and the younger scene. There aren't many young bands that are making alternative music. Besides that I love the scene.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Bryan: Just give it time. Its grown drastically in the last two years.

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Justin: Ian Moore (formerly of the Astrals) is forming a new project. It's 70's glam rock so watch for it. And Vile Blue Shades.

Bryan: Vile Blue Shades, Coyote Hoods, Red Bennies, The Devil Whale. There's tons of great bands out here.

Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?

Bryan: Well, truthfully I don't listen to that much radio besides NPR but I will say that regarding Jamie Gadette and Brad Wheeler's show on KRCL, I think they're amazing. Their mixes are great and the artists they choose are choice. They're doing a great thing for the local community.

Stefanie: I'm definitely impressed with KRCL. I came out here from LA and their local station was more show-offy and NOT local. The variety of music that you get from KRCL is very rare.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as musicians?

Justin: I truthfully am all for it. Look for the new album on The Pirate Bay the day that it's released.

Bryan: No take. I don't really care. Give it all away for free for all I care.

Stefanie: Diddo.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of the year?

Justin: Great shows. The album release should be really awesome.

Bryan: Some of the most interesting shows and music you've ever seen. It's already noticeable how much better the music and live shows are. Just wait, you're all going to love it.

Stefanie: It's just going up from here.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Bryan: Nope. Thanks a lot Gavin!

Stefanie: Gavin, you've been amazing. Brad Wheeler's show on KRCL is always great. Support your local vendors. Do what makes you happy and have a good time...all the time!

Justin: Always great seeing your face at shows man! Let's grab a beer sometime.

Spell Talk (Sam Harper, Jared Phelps, Andrew Milne and Dyrt Roe)

(For this interview, the band chose to answer as a group)

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

We are from Ogden.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

ST: Back in the day, we started playing together and with who ever. It felt good.

Gavin: How did you all get together and form The Naked Eyes?

ST: One person two phone calls.

Gavin: What was it like originally as a trio developing a more soul influenced kind of rock and bringing that sound out to our scene?

ST: The music just flowed. When we started The Naked Eyes. All we had to do was remember the songs. It felt natural to play and share with others.

Gavin: Almost immediately you started recording the Free & Easy album. What was it like recording that album and the issues you ran into while laying it down?

ST: Smooth. We recorded Free & Easy in two days, live session style at Mojo's Cafe in Ogden.

Gavin: What did you think of the public reaction to it when it came out?

ST: We had a release party in Ogden and all our pal's came out to support us. We couldn't ask for more. Our friends are way RAD!

Gavin: What was it like for you going out on tour so soon and getting the chances to play bigger local gigs like Earth Jam and Uncle Uncanny's?

ST: It was great. We had so much fun at Uncle Uncanny's, everybody should take that trip. And it's always cool to play In the park. thanks to Earth Jam we get to experience playing in the park with many great musicians.

Gavin: How was it coming back and recording the
Sleep Talk EP with Justin Langford, and what was it like compared to the full-length sessions?

ST: Actully we recorded that before we went out so could have new material to share with people on the road. The Great West Saloon was cool because we recorded one instrument at a time. It pushed us to really know what was going on with our music. It challenged us to do our best. I don't think any of us knew what was going to happen. I hope "completely amazing" sums it up for you. We had fore shows, spent $599 and came back with one dollar we all signed and have hanging on the wall at our head quarters.

Gavin: How did the decision come about for Dyrt Roe to join the group, and how has his addition affected the music?

ST: Any one who knows Dylan, knows he loves to play music. We meet him threw two lovely Russian babes who put us up for a few weeks when we got back from tour. Hence the move to SLC. Dylan inspired us back to the roots. and he plays a pretty mean harp. We love him like a brother.

Gavin: What was your take on playing for
SLUG's Localized showcase and getting that kind of recognition?

ST: SLUG is the shit. No doubt about it. That was the most people we have ever played for and you can't go wrong doing a show with The Tiny Lights and Blue Sunshine Soul. it's was one my personal favorite shows.

Gavin: This year you won the CWMA's as the top band. What was the entire experience like for you guys, and what's your reaction to having that kind of support from the scene?

ST: The CWMA's were amazing, it was great getting to play The Depot and meet so many new people. Thanks to everybody who participated we had a good old time.

Gavin: You've recently changed your name to Spell Talk. What brought on the change and how did the new name come about?

ST: We change the name after a year and a half of debate because Naked Eyes is already a band with a big hit."Always Something There To Remind Me". So to avoid confusion and or a very possible law suit.

Gavin: You also have a new album just barely release at the show called
Ghost Rider. How was it recording this one, and how would you compare it to the sound of the first?

ST: Ghost Rider was recorded at KRCL and it was totally satisfying from top to bottom. We toned everything down featuring simple percussion,. Acoustic guitar, slide guitar, organ and harmonica. When we found out they were offering us the tracked out raw recording. We knew just who to call for mastering.

Gavin: On top of that you're about to head out on tour again. Tell us a bit about the trip you're taking.

ST: Ah, yes, the tour. We were lucking enough to be ask to open up for Imaad Wasif and Dead Meadow. A couple of days later Imaad called and asked us if we wanted to meet him in Nashville to finish out the tour with him and his band. We dropped every thing we were doing outside of the band and realized this was the opportunity of a life time. And went with our hearts.

Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

ST: Salt Lake City has great vibes and it's growing. Supporting and be apart of what is going on in SLC is a honor.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

ST: Things evolve the way they should. It's perfect.

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

ST: Max Pain & The Groovies, Vile Blue Shades, Plastic Furs, Fox Van Cleef and Ulysses. There is some much good music in Salt Lake City and it's going to get recognized.

Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?

ST: It's great to have something like community radio. Bad Brad and Ebay do a mighty fine job of supporting the scene and keeping everybody up dated. Tune in!

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as musicians?

ST: Sharing and exchanging true information is how we move forward as musicians and individuals.

Gavin: What can we expect from you all over the rest of the year?

ST: We our playing Desert Rocks in Moab on the 29th of May, recording a new album in June and a west coast tour in July.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

ST: Yes. Desert Rocks over Memorial Day weekend. And Mike Brown Fest 4 on the 15th of May.