by EA Poorman
Not to sit on their laurels, the guys in Warsaw, Indiana’s Plaxton and the Void have dropped a couple fresh new tracks on our collective ears. “We All Are One” and “If Silence Could Speak” sound bigger and bolder than anything the band has put out up to this point. Full of chest-thumping momentum and lump-in-your-throat sincerity, they seem to be a new starting point for the band.
I caught up with the fellas in the Lake City and talked to them about the new tunes and what life after C-Street’s Battle of the Bands was like.
EA Poorman: Since we last talked in September it seems Plaxton and the Void have been busy. Can you tell me about the two new songs you guys just released, “We All Are One” and “If Silence Could Speak”?
Joshua Jacoby: These are our first two songs written since the EP. They’re a result of our most recent tweaks to our writing process–specifically, writing together as a band. Until this point, most of our songs were written ahead of time by Joel, and were more acoustic driven. Since adding keys to the mix, we’ve been wanting to use our full spectrum of resources to keep things fresh and allow everyone to have creative input at the conception of each new song.
Dave McCall: To me it felt like we were doing a lot of work but it didn’t feel busy because we were so focused on just one thing: getting the two new songs perfect for the studio recording. We haven’t ever been so collectively focused on one thing before. Every element of the arrangements was worked and reworked then practiced and practiced until it was all muscle memory. That let us focus on putting more soul and feeling into the actual recording.
EA Poorman: The songs sound bigger than previous Plaxton songs. They seem wider in scope. Was that what you guys were going for?
John Faulkner: These new songs were the first we’ve written from the ground up with all 5 members. Other than the lyrics, we all had a hand in shaping the arrangements, which really showcase everyone’s talents, especially “Silence” – everyone shines on that. And Dan’s input in the studio really put them over the top.
Dave McCall: The bigger sounds reflect our laser focus on making them sound big and I think they’re more engaging on a personal level (you really want to sing along or get up and move to the music) because we were so prepared going into the studio that we could invest emotionally in the process and leave bits of our musical selves on the actual recording.
EA Poorman: This time around you recorded at Digitracks Studio in Fort Wayne as opposed to your usual recording haunt Squidtown Music. Why did you guys decide to record elsewhere, and how did you decide on Digitracks? Did you enjoy recording with Dan Middleton?
Joshua Jacoby: We scored some recording time at Digitracks from last year’s battle of the bands at C-Street, so we picked a couple songs that we wanted to record with the time we had available. There were a couple goals here–first, we wanted to see how our sound would translate with some outside production input, and second, we wanted to see what a larger-budget studio would contrast with our home-studio style production. Working with Dan was great–we hit it off well enough to feel comfortable with his production input, which allowed us to walk out with better songs than we walked in with. We’d absolutely work with Dan again.
Joel Squires: I loved recording in an actual studio, the experience was completely new to me. Honestly I was pretty nervous, hoping that my chops were good enough to get the job done. It was great to have an experienced outside voice be able to look at what we do and offer advice on how to tweak music/vocals. Also the stress of not having to set up the studio, mix, master and produce all of the songs ourselves I think really gave us time to breath and focus on the performance of what we do.
Dave McCall: When having the option of recording ourselves in our own modest studio or a huge pro studio with racks and racks of gear and 4-digit valued mics, it was a no-brainer. What I wasn’t expecting was that the biggest benefit of recording at Digitracks was Dan Middleton’s brain. That guy took what we worked so long and hard on perfecting and made some suggestions and wrote some vocal parts that took them to a whole new level. We thought they couldn’t get any better and Dan heard ways to make them better in just a few listen-throughs. We quickly worked with his suggestions and got them all recorded on the same day. Dan made the Digitracks recording and mixing experience both productive and enjoyable. We had no frame of reference for how much more we could get done, how much better it could sound, and how fun it could be when there was a 3rd party there facilitating all the technical aspects of the recording and making artistic suggestions and answering the question, “Is this take good enough or not?” objectively and quickly.
EA Poorman: It’s been a year since Plaxton released their last full-length ‘Still Alive’. Are these two new songs going to eventually end up on album number three? Will you guys be heading back to Digitracks to record?
Joshua Jacoby: I know I’d love to record our next full-length with Dan. It’ll mainly be a question of financing it…and writing the songs to fill up a new record.
John Faulkner: There’s been talk of going back to digitracks to record more songs, and hopefully put together a new release. Right now we’re in full gigging mode, so we’re not spending much time on new material. However, when we do get around to a new release, expect it to be more comparable to our latest singles than our previous albums.
Joel Squires: I think we will be seeing another Plaxton album within the year, but I think these 2 songs will stand alone as a single for us.
EA Poorman: You guys recently played a show at Goshen, Indiana’s Ignition Music. A great venue where I saw Strand of Oaks just last fall. How did that show go? Did you guys like the vibe of Ignition?
Joshua Jacoby: Ignition is a fantastic venue, and we have wanted to play there for a long time. It was a great experience.
Dave McCall: Ignition Music in Goshen is my favorite venue to play and to experience music at. Steve has created something special there. It isn’t a normal music scene. Everyone that attends is there to listen to and experience the music first hand (not through a phone screen). They aren’t there chatting to their neighbor or texting or videoing. They’re there participating and engaging in an exceptional way. It’s something special. It’s also a gorgeous space with a great PA system and sound tech, so everything looks and sounds great for everyone, too.
EA Poorman: What other shows does Plaxton and the Void have lined up in the near future?
Dave McCall: We currently are booked to play the First Friday event in downtown Warsaw on July 3rd and at the Chicory Cafe at 9pm on August 8th. We’re working on filling in some more bookings, too. Get at us if you want us to play somewhere! firstname.lastname@example.org
EA Poorman: What new releases have you guys heard this year that have been taking up most of your listening time?
Joshua Jacoby: That new Alabama Shakes record sounds fantastic.
John Faulkner: Right now, I’m hitting the new Built To Spill pretty hard, as well as Low Cut Connie and Lord Huron. I saw Slow Pokes unveil some new tunes at Brass Rail recently. Really looking forward to that.
Joel Squires: I’ve been listening a lot to older Decemberists albums as well as the new Alabama Shakes, Har Mar Superstar and the last couple Dawes albums have been on a steady repeat for me.
Dave McCall: Not all new releases, but my most played albums are Sound & Color (Alabama Shakes), The House That Dirt Built (The Heavy), Be With (Koushik), Earthology (Whitefield Brothers), and Lost in Alphaville (The Rentals).
EA Poorman: What does Plaxton and the Void have planned for the rest of 2015?
Joshua Jacoby: As many live shows as we can play through summer and fall, and hopefully writing some new material in between.
Joel Squires: I can’t wait to keep recording and see where this summer takes us.
Dave McCall: If we stay light on bookings this summer hopefully we can keep writing and maybe even do some more recording. We keep learning and improving so each new song and recording is exciting and something we can’t wait to share.
Go check out some new Plaxton and the Void songs at https://plaxtonandthevoid.bandcamp.com/. And get out and see them live wherever you can.