Planes Mistaken For Stars
Q: Ok, for the record let’s have name, occupation and the last record you went out of your way to buy?
Gared: Oh wow! My name’s Gared, I play guitar and sing and the last record I went out of the way to buy was…actually it was an old Badfinger LP. That was the last record I bought, so Badfinger man!
Chuck: My name is Chuck and I play bass. I’m unemployed at the moment and I think the last record I went out of my way to buy was Killing Joke.
Q: How’s the tour been going, this must be like a reunion for you playing with The Ataris and Cursive again. All three of you have toured together for a while now, haven’t you?
Gared: Yeah, we’ve toured with Cursive before and we’ve toured with The Ataris before, especially Cursive; we go back probably four years with those guys. We’ve been tight for a long time so it’s really cool to be here across the pond hanging out…
Q: How have the kids in Europe been treating you, have you managed to shift that Deep Elm, Emo connection you were suffering from last time you were over?
Gared: It’s really hard to say, it’s different. We’ve only done one headlining show since we’ve been over here on this tour and that went really great, really well and I think that the Ataris shows have been a little bit different coz the kids don’t know what to think. They haven’t heard of us and they really don’t care…
Q: It’s a very varied lineup for your average Ataris fan to digest, isn’t it?
Gared: Yeah, it’s very eclectic and that’s amazing, that’s the coolest thing about it, you know, but It’s been ok and as far as the Deep Elm thing and shedding that. I think that’s something that’s always snapping at our heels but it’s kinda a good thing because it still brings in kids that think we’re going to be all patting our chest and crying about something and we scare the hell out of them!
Q: How has Mikey’s driving been in the UK, we have a lot more roundabouts here than you’d ever see in the US?
Gared: How did you hear about fast Mikey?
Q: I read about it.
Gared: OK, we have a driver actually, he’s a good fella. His name’s Jez, and we’ll probably, every time we come over here use him, so luckily we haven’t had to drive because this country makes me really tired. Whenever we leave I’m always like ugh, I couldn’t drive with shit; plus the left hand side of the road deal, it’s not that big of a deal but sometimes it is confusing. We’ve all been driving for ten years and we’re so used to doing it a certain way I’m sure we’d fucking wreck, so it’s a good thing we have a driver, and even if we didn’t have a driver I think Mikey would be the last person I’d let drive.
Q: I’ve been told that you don’t usually get many roundabouts in the US, and if you do they usually build walls around them to stop you from trying to drive through them?
Gared: I’m from the East Coast originally; I’m from Boston so those things are everywhere. In Chicago there are some but it’s more to stop drug trafficking.
Chuck: Yeah, they’re like these small really small circles in the middle of intersections. They don’t even really go around, they just tend to glide around them, you know?
Q: Yeah, I guess it must be a Midwest thing; they haven’t caught onto the roundabouts yet. I heard you guys took your name from an in-joke, that’s sounds kinda interesting?
Gared: It’s sorta jokey but it’s really a simple story. I was having a rough day one day about…fuck! About nine years ago!
Chuck: Is that right?
Gared: yeah, I was eighteen, and I was having a real bad time, and I’m kind corny. I still wish on stars, and pennies and stuff and I was wishing on a star coz I was having a really bad day…and it blinked! The star blinked, and I was like ‘Bummer it’s a plane!’ The reason it’s an inside joke is coz at the time when I came up with the name everyone was into bands like ‘Cap n’ Jazz’ and ‘Joan of Arc’ and a lot of those lyrics are sorta corny and just like ‘oh puppy dog, tragic love.’ ‘The Promise Ring’ was really big at the time and I thought it sounded so groovy that I was like ‘alright, let’s go for it, we’re called Planes Mistaken for Stars!’
Q: you guys are all big Black Flag fans; did you all read ‘Get in the Van’ before embarking on your first tour?
Gared: That came out after we’d been a band, but I’ve read it a couple of times and I actually have it on cassette, you can listen to it.
Q: I haven’t heard it yet, they just re-released it on CD…
Gared: It’s hysterical, coz Henry Rollins, as good as that book is, he’s such a cheese-ball, and it’s quite funny to listen to him say it. The tape, it’s actually a bit disappointing because it’s really edited, it’s like maybe half of the book.
Q: Everyone always tells you it’s best to read books first, but that’s one thing I’d quite like to have heard come straight from his mouth first, instead of reading it.
Gared: It’s definitely and interesting cassette to listen to but I love the book, I adore it really.
Q: So what have you been listening to in the van then, this tour?
Gared: We’ve actually been here for a week and we didn’t have a radio until today. What were we listening to today?
Chuck: Neil Young.
Gared: Just a bunch of Neil Young, Johnny Cash and a whole bunch of S.O.D.
Gared: Neil Young, Johnny Cash and…S.O.D!
Q: That’s the metal fix…spot the odd one out! Which Black Flag songs did you do for the tribute CD, coz you did various different ones for the vinyl versions and stuff didn’t you?
Gared: We did ‘Depression,’ we did ‘Wasted,’ we did ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme.’
Chuck: ‘Police Story.’
Gared: And didn’t we do one more…well you weren’t doing it…
Chuck: Yeah, there was another one.
Gared: I think there was one more, I don’t even remember anything!
Q: Do you throw any of them into you set, and do you get any fans disappointed that you didn’t?
Gared: We’ve never played them live. I thought about it, you know, it would be fun but it would be more for a basement show or a garage show, and it’s also embarrassing in the sense that I think we pulled it off ok, but we’re not Black Flag, and Black Flag is sacred, you know. I don’t want to be too nostalgic and it would be like ‘oh, we’re butchering a Black Flag song.’ We love it so we just let it go.
Q: So what’s wrong with the Midwest, everyone slates it; is it really as bad as Henry Rollins says it is?
Gared: Yeah, the Midwest is uh…a bit narrow-minded by and large I guess, in sections, and it’s really…I don’t really know if it’s that bad, there’s just a lot of places that are a lot better, kinda thing, and in contrast to better places there’s a lot of the Midwest that’s really disappointing, really hard to grow up in. It’s really a macho attitude, and real Blue Collar to a fall. We’re all about working-class and stuff but people who have a chip on their shoulder…
Q: So it’s stuck in its own ways?
Gared: Yeah, I got the shit kicked out of me every day in high school coz I was a freak coz I rode a skateboard, that’s the Midwest, that’s where that comes from.
Q: We’re used to this in the UK coz we’ve got Holidays in The Sun, the big punk festival that everyone slags down coz they see it as an excuse for old bands to reform for some easy money, but what do you think of Iggy reforming The Stooges?
Gared: I didn’t want to have anything to do with it really, The Stooges are so sacred, it’s kinda like how Black Flag just reformed; they did a show and I heard it was a farce, I heard it was complete garbage, it was terrible. The saving grace for The Stooges was that Mike Watt played bass, which is amazing coz fIREHOSE (sic) and The Minutemen are two of my favorite bands ever, so that’s cool, but I still think Iggy’s a hardcore enough dude that he doesn’t need to try and recapture old glories. I mean, he still can keep on pushing; it’s too bad that he did some tracks with Sum 41 or whatever…
Q: I never heard that, I knew they did some tracks with Rob Halford.
Gared: That band seems like a bunch of twats dude, fuck them! Ha ha, that’s just so ridiculous! They get to hang out with Judas Priest and Iggy Pop…why? They probably don’t even know…
Q: I’m sure someone had to tell them in that week’s exec meeting?
Gared: It’s their management!
Q: Deep Elm, No Idea, you’ve jumped labels quite a bit, have you got any idea where you’d like to settle down label-wise, or would you rather try stay as an independent band almost?
Gared: Well right now we’re really happy with No Idea, they’re our family. We adore it, they do the best job possible, they’re completely, 100% on the level with us which is good, and of course the next record’s going to be on No Idea. None of us ever say never to anything, you know, who knows? If it feels right then we might do something different some day but right now we’re fucking happy. The big drive for bands is to be like ‘we gotta go to different labels to get to more kids. Now I want to stay on No Idea and bring the kids to us. We’ll build together so No idea will benefit.
Q: Have you started working on the new album yet?
Gared: Yeah, it’s like 99% done. We get home from this tour and we’re home for like, a week and then I’ve got to go and redo all the vocals! Not all the vocals but about half of the vocals and we’re gonna remix it and then it should be out in about…June? Yeah, it got pushed back.
Q: What’s writing like for you guys is it something you can do on the road or do you really have to take time out to work on any new material?
Gared: We don’t really write on the road. Sometimes when we’re lucky enough to get a sound check we’ll dick around and come up with some funny stuff; but I would love to write on the road, I think we all would, but it’s always such a constant motion. You’re constantly going forward and you don’t really have time to sit back and be like ‘Hey, let’s sit down with the acoustics.’ There’s always something to do, and if it’s not like that it’s like ‘I need to fucking sleep!’ Or you’re fucking hung-over and just like ‘urrgghlah!’ When we’re home…obviously we’re not the most prolific band in the world, we’ve been around six years and we only have two full-lengths so we don’t write as much as I think we should but it’s also been because it’s been an incredibly busy six years, touring a lot, and when we’re not touring there’s something else even heavier going on or we would be touring, you know? I think we’re probably going to start writing more. It’s interesting now, writing has actually been more fun in the past six, seven months, I’ve had more fun writing than I have in years because Chuck is such a new energy and such an amazing vibe to be around, and he’s also interested in what we’re doing together, he’s like ‘Yeah, let’s get better, let’s be better’ so it’s pretty exciting.
Q: From a UK point of view I think a lot of people are really waiting for this album to come out because your back catalog is so hard to get hold of, and all I can ever find in the shops is the ‘Fuckin Fight’ CD re-released by Ignition, and that’s only two songs.
Gared: That’s weird; I have to work on No Idea about that. I was always under the assumption that they’ had really great UK distribution but we’ll have to push it a little harder coz I definitely want kids to be able to get the record.
Q: This is one of the zine’s favorite generic questions so I thought I’d slip it in…what would you hope that someone in a crowd would take away from your music?
Gared: That we’re all fragile, we’re all flawed, we’re all beautiful and none of us are ‘cool’ coz otherwise we wouldn’t be at a punk rock show, so lose your pretension and just fucking let loose and realise that you’ve only got so much longer on this rock and make the most of it. Take care of your brothers and sisters.
Q: What would you say makes a band like yourselves stick together and stay tight over all those years?
Gared: I think we’re all a bit in love with each other, I adore these guys; they’re my brothers. We’re kinda like children. I think we all have a bit of fatherly instinct towards each other and I wanna make sure we’re all in good shape. Also, it’s trying to outrun the adult crash, none of us want that, we’re basically shop class dropouts hangin’ out smoking cigarettes behind the shed. That’s what we’re doing constantly and that’s why we plan on keeping it because we love each other
Q: it seems to me that these are dangerous times for hardcore bands and hardcore punk bands, with major labels snapping at their heels, and whilst there’s some bands that are headstrong enough to steer the corporate machine, like the Bronx who are on Island and still releasing vinyl EPs somehow. How do you think you’d approach it if Island came knocking for you guys?
Gared: Just to be really frank, there’s a point in our history as a band where I found it curious, let’s see what these guys have to say but it’s so uninteresting right now because they’re just buying up the underground. They’re treating the underground, or indy rock, or whatever you want to call it as a farm team and I think it’s insulting. I think it’s dangerous and I’m really scared for a lot of bands right now because it’s the same thing, history just repeats itself, like look what happened with the whole grunge movement. Nirvana got big, Alice in Chains got big, Pearl Jam, whatever, and then it was a hotbed for signing bands, and look at how many bands got completely fucked from that, like what happened to Tad after they signed? What happened to The Melvins?
Q: And then the same thing happened again afterwards with Jawbreaker, Leatherface and Samiam.
Gared: Look what happened there, because Green Day hit they started looking for bands like that because ‘Oh, Samiam is from the same town’ and that record fucking flopped, and Seaweed flopped, and Jawbox flopped, and Shudder to Think flopped, and those are all completely, fucking phenomenal rock n’ roll groups, like holy shit! The labels basically are only interested in throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks and whatever falls to the ground, they’re not going to clean it up. That’s the scary thing; bands get it from behind really hard.
Q: It’s a very destructive scene, with labels and kids too preoccupied with what’s cool at that exact moment in time pushing it further and further to get the next big thing, leaving a trail of destruction in their path.
Gared: it’s churning them up, and I think that’s why we’ve had the longevity that we’ve had, and that’s why I think that we might have more longevity than a lot of bands because we’re always…I think it’s completely accidental but we’re always a couple of steps away from it. When our first record came out that was a little before all the bands that really started capitalising on that started doing sorta similar things, but by the time that happened we were already bored with that record and bored with that line of thinking, and we were like ‘let’s do something different!’
Q: I was just standing there watching you guys play and I thought it was great to see a sincere, honest band doing exactly what they want to do on that stage, compared to all the gloss and the hype that we’re getting fed at the minute.
Gared: Thanks man, that’s a beautiful compliment and we take that to heart, and it’s kids like yourself that’s part of the reason why it makes it easier to do what we do, coz sometimes it seriously feels like you’re throwing all this energy out to a sea of…
Chuck: A void!
Gared: Yeah, a sea of heads, a void! Fuck, we’re killing ourselves and the only people that are really getting anything out of it are the four people on stage, so it’s nice to hear that, definitely.
Q: And It’s great to see tours where bands like yourselves and Cursive playing, coz there’s so many people who’ll hurriedly organize a tour with a big band, just throw in a couple of support band because they’re not the main attraction.
Gared: Well it’s nice, and to The Ataris credit man. They’re cool because it’s not any management companies that are setting these tours up, it’s Kris and it’s those guys being like ‘we like this band’, we want to make it a good rock ‘n’ roll show’ and that’s fucking really refreshing for us because we get offered package tours all the time but fuck if I’m going to play with first of four, you know? We get an opening slot with three mediocre bands after us, get paid twenty bucks a night and get treated like crap, you know, fuck that! So, it’s nice to actually have a band call and say ‘hey do you guys wanna go out on the road with us, we like your record.’ It feels kinda like what’s missing, and I hope more bands in The Ataris situation play by their own rules on certain aspects because there’s so many bands that are big now and they just completely forget what the whole thing’s about in the first place…
Chuck: It’s having the balls to bring whoever the fuck you want!
Gared: It’s very ballsy of them because I’m sure their management company’s spinning right now? Why would they bring two completely unmarketable bands on tour, coz we’re not marketable. If you put our faces on a poster that’s not going to sell any tickets, I’ll tell you that! *laughter*
Q: I’m going to have to put a link to the Buddyhead interview [go to http://www.buddyhead.com/music/planes/, this is one story you just have to check out!] for the story you refuse to tell over and over again…though I’m sure Rob Halford would be interested if he heard it?
Q: Obviously you can’t speak for your two partners in crime but do you think they’d do it for Rob Halford, are they big Judas Priest fans?
Gared: Oh, we all are, I’d make out with Rob Halford in a second man, just to say I did.
Q: You should put that story on your website; tell the kids you’re open to favours and then you might not have to worry so much about the money next time you’re over?
Gared: Yeah, totally! I wasn’t part of that situation other than that I was there, but we’ve been pretty hard up for food a couple of times, I can’t say I wouldn’t…and if it was Rob Halford I’d do it in a split second man!
Q: One last question, because you’ve answered it so well in interviews before, let’s tell the readers what punk rock really is.
Gared: It’s being true. These days we try not to let ourselves be defined by the narrow walls of what people say is hardcore punk rock, but I think punk rock at its core essentially is just not really giving a shit about the industry and not really giving a shit about what sells or how you’re gonna do it. It’s about giving a shit about the karmic price you pay for being a phony.
Q: It’s about the music, not who’s giving you the free clothes…
Gared: Exactly, exactly. Punk rock is such a watered down…who knows what it means, it’s such a loose term you know, because, for example someone will be like ‘oh, you’re in a band?’ and we’re like ‘yeah’ and they say ‘what do you sound like?’ and we’re like ‘punk rock, I guess’ and they’re like ‘so, like Good Charlotte or Simple Plan’ and we’re like ‘no’ that’s the scary thing about the term, it’s been so bastardised. I’ll tell you what punk rock is, punk rock is Fugazi, punk rock is Spirit Caravan, just a guy who obviously is not…the kids aren’t buying it because he’s got airbrushed pictures! Punk rock is just fucking doing it, it’s really a love, and a love and a lust for life, if Iggy Pop pretty much says, it does.
Q: But the kids these days almost seem to sum-up a band, judge a band on their merch and their logo, they’ve probably already decided you’re a hardcore band?
Gared: It’s weird you know, what can you do? Aesthetically we probably do look like a hardcore band by the shirts and stuff. I think we try to stray away from letting punk rock or hardcore define us as a band, coz as much as we adore Black Flag and Naked Ray Gun and the Damned, shit we all grew up with we still, on the other hand, are completely into Marvin Gaye and Thin Lizzy, you know, and Pink Floyd, you can’t get any punker than some of that early soul stuff or some Thin Lizzy.
Q: It can be done, you don’t have to define yourself, Hot Water Music haven’t done it, you try and pin something on them and you can’t.
Gared: They just keep on going and they rock, they’re the best example of a great southern rock band. They’re fucking blue collar, they’ll roll up their sleeves and kick your ass. They’re fucking amazing guys; they don’t take any shit either, I’ll tell you that.
Q: Closing comments?
Gared: Fucking A dude, thank you for your support!