Rising from the geographically oldest continent on the planet, Sydney’s greatest young prog guitar export Plini has gone from strength to strength with each successive tour cycle and album release. Pushing the scope and boundaries of instrumental progressive rock and metal, the young man has been cited as #8 in Ultimate-Guitar’s top 12 guitarists of 2015, and is listed amongst “MusicRadar’s #1 prog guitar player in the world’.
Having recently self-recorded and produced the stellar new ‘Sunhead’ EP, due for release next Friday 27th July, Overdrive caught up with the guitar virtuoso sorcerer and all-round nice guy to discuss how things were going. Reportedly they’re ‘going great, even though I’m a bit buggered at the moment, I’m excited.’
As he would be, having ‘just finished about seven weeks of touring in Europe’, chilling at home for a month or so before heading back overseas with Tesseract and Between the Buried and Me. ‘Honestly, it’s great to have made so many good friends on tour and to be playing with bands that write for themselves and push the envelope’.
Anyone who has heard the mans’ music, which features the intricate backing of fellows in The Helix Nebula recognise both his tone and songcraft almost instantaneously, a mix of powerful polyrhythms, grooves and lilting, soaring harmonies.
‘With ‘Sunhead’, there’s definitely those nice-sounding solos and leads and what have you’, Plini confirms, ‘but touring with Animals as Leaders definitely helped, as I got to see a band writing their heaviest and most exploratory music yet at their peak of success’. This sentiment reflects’ Plini’s own position with the new EP – without giving away too much, there are fundamentally heavier elements and all-out new directions all over the place, marking a confidence in pushing said boundaries.
For instance, without revealing too much, one of the tracks features appearances from well-known prog musicians including a saxophonist, keyboardist and guitarist, from bands such as Anomalie, Skyharbor and standout indie players. This track among others, including newly-released single ‘Salt + Charcoal’ demonstrates this openness. ‘I was touring with those guys and kept good friends with them (friendship was a recurring theme of our conversation) outside of music, and so we kind of got talking, approached each other and they offered to do some stuff. Which is great’, he adds with some fervour, ‘as they’re both great musicians and people!’
Even in discussion with him about being ‘very stoked’ about the opportunity to have musicians he personally idolised, David Maxim Micic and Javier Reyes from Animals as Leaders supporting him on tour, he came from a place of amicability. ‘These are people I looked up to and idolised, and so to have the chance to make friends with them on tour was something I never expected. Having that time out with them gave us the time to know each other beyond our very similar music tastes as people, and we decided touring together would work personally, musically and professionally.’
Seems that relationship-building is built into every aspect of the man’s live repertoire, from his super light-hearted and friendly stage presence, willingness to chat with fans after the gig,, warm interviewing style and talk of playing with idols like they’re old mates.
But, when it comes to the songwriting process, although Plini collaborates heavily with the Helix boys and his guests, it’s primarily done from the literal comfortof his own home. Which is pretty incredible, given the production quality, right? ‘Well, to be honest, I’m doing most of the recordings and takes from my computer at home which I then send through to Simon (Grove; bassist, The Helix Nebula/Plini), who does the mastering with a $200 piece of guitar software, then we do extra layering and editing’.
So, a lot done with relatively little?
‘Yeah, it’s just a matter of learning which tools work for you, and also working with the tools you’ve got. For example, I spent 6 years writing with the same pair of cheap speakers, however I used those to the utmost possible, playing organically was my focus, it’s what’s most important rather than say what gear or software you’re using’. It comes as no surprise that a player whose music just ebbs and flows without the oft cold, technical artificiality inherent in modern prog, with production values that sound crisp and warm at the same time. The man and his band take pride in a clear clean product albeit one that comes from the heart.
Speaking of heart, such a nice guy has also directed much time and devotion to charity, with singles such as ‘Ko Ki’ going towards Cambodia social housing charity. ‘I headed over there with a friend and got to see the impact, and it was very strange coming back to Australia and my own privileged lifestyle’, he muses. ‘It definitely gave me perspective’.
For a man who fronts a band of his own namesake, he sure is a personable guy.
And for a young guy he has an air of wisdom about him. What wisdom then, can he impart upon the legion of bedroom guitarists looking to break out onto the scene?
‘Listen to the music that you like most and find what ‘gaps’ there are for you in these artists and start writing songs that fill that gap and that need within yourself. Practice often but love what you play and write as well.’ Almost cliché, but time-tested and evidently working well for the man’s success and musical integrity.
‘Sure promo and stuff is important but work that out later, write for yourself as an artist and work towards your vision, all the promo and logistics will work itself further on down the track (cover art, booking, tours etc). Just play from the heart.’
If you want to hear Plini playing from the heart, his new EP ‘Sunhead’ releases Friday 27th July on Bandcamp. To see him live, head to the Oztix site page – his Australian tour runs from the 7th-15th September.
More tour information and tickets HERE