My Interview with The Plastic Overlords!
What more can I say?
Jerry Lucky: Lets start at the beginning…I’m guessing that’s in the late nineties…how did you guys come together?
DAVID: I’d always scared off musicians with the words “art rock.” Brad was one of the few who didn’t run away. Around 1999, a music writer introduced me to Eric Hand, claiming he was the most eccentric guitarist around. The first time we all played, it worked instantly. Our goal was to be both heavy and melodic. We wrote and recorded the first Plastic Overlords album in three weeks. Pure madness. Eric did fantastic work but things got too proggy for him and he left. Then we heard about this local virtuoso, John Eades, so we lured him with flattery and exaggerated claims of potential success.
BRAD: I believe it was late '96: my daughter had just been born and I had only been playing drums a short while. A mutual friend of mine and David's told me he needed a drummer. I was green but gave it a shot, and luckily David gave me the seat. I guess he liked my song-oriented sensibilities. We disbanded and I had many other adventures with little success. Then David called out of the blue and intrigued me with talk of prog greatness... Ha ha! And the rest was history.
JL: Listening to your music I’m struck by the eclectic influences…what were the bands that influenced everyone the most?
DAVID: For me it was Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Yes, Crimson, Bowie, The Who, Queen, early Genesis, 70s Rush, Hawkwind, Van der Graaf Generator – but also Moody Blues, Kate Bush, ELO, Doors, the Velvet Underground and later Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
JOHN: My main influences growing up were Rush, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Yes, Deep Purple, Kiss, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and Queen. I went through a heavy fusion stage in my 20's listening to all of the guitar shredders.
BRAD: I grew up on metal. I know that makes David cringe! For me it was Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and the likes. But alas, along came Rush. I got Caress of Steel as a birthday present and was hooked. I was also influenced by a lot of the psych stuff or what I called “headphone” music – Doors, Floyd, Moody Blues. Now I’m all over the map, from Dream Theater to 311 to, dare I say it, even country.
JL: Playing prog-psych isn’t exactly the “get rich ticket” …whatever possessed you to travel down that tricky road? What were some of your high points? Low points?
DAVID: In first grade, I found an old discarded 45 of “I Am the Walrus” in the attic and put it on my toy record player. You don’t recover from something like that. At 15, I pretended the family organ was a Mellotron. My high school band booted me out for favoring 10-minute epics over Judas Priest covers. My first single at 19 would have fit on Seventh Sojourn but didn’t fit anywhere at the time. It’s always been hard, but the absolute low point was the 90s. I felt at complete odds with that decade, so I dug in my heels, took out my first loan and bought a Mellotron. I’d thought I’d finally won but the thing never worked, and it just broke my heart. So when the Overlords happened, it was definitely the high point for me.
JOHN: Progressive Rock is what comes naturally to me when writing music. I tend to write and play music that I would buy and not worry about what is popular. The high points come from the reaction to the music by listeners. The low points would be the time wasted when we weren't playing together.
BRAD:I like to think we travel the road because it’s in our blood. I love playing technical but at the end of the day it’s about good songs. A high point for me has been the actual completion of this album. It seemed impossible a few years ago, but I knew this material needed to be heard. Hopefully, this is only the beginning for us. We have so much more to give. The low point was obviously the untimely demise so many years ago.
JL: You released your first…and I guess…only album in 2000…what kind of response did it receive?
DAVID: The reviews were exciting – one listed the album as a major release for 2000. Some said they almost thought it was a lost 70s record, and once we got misidentified as British, which I took personal delight in. But we had no real promotion and the record sold very poorly – although people as far away as Uzbekistan bought it.
BRAD: I was blown away by how it was received. We threw it together
so quickly to meet a deadline and I was stunned we pulled it off. There were so many engineering mistakes that made us cringe. The
material was strong enough though that these mistakes were overlooked. It always makes you smile when someone actually gets where
you are coming from and says such wonderful things.
JL: And then you guys broke up! What happened there?
DAVID: My fault entirely. I suffer from musical schizophrenia and got into Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and Kraftwerk. I abandoned guitar rock and left the Overlords hanging with an unfinished album. We had some fantastic songs but I just couldn’t relate to them at the time.
BRAD: Ummmm... David lost his mind... :) I would call him every year or so and remind him how good the music was and what a fool he was to let this go. After many of these calls he finally came to his senses. In all honesty though, David is brilliant, he has so much music pouring out of him that he felt he needed to explore other avenues. I can’t fault him for that. I can only feel lucky we put this back together.
JL: So what happened to everyone over the intervening years?
DAVID: I formed I Almost Saw God in the Metro – one of the early new wave revival groups and 2002’s runner up for Most Pretentious Band Name. We had minimal success but I was a new father and completely unprepared for how much fun that is. Then I made a film and left music altogether. For 5 years, I didn’t write a song. My friends and family were shocked.
JOHN: I recorded and released a solo CD of instrumental originals. I later joined a band with Brad called Mighty Big Finger, playing bass. After a couple of years I opened my own music store.
BRAD: I was
part of a hard rock band, Mighty Big Finger. We had some metal prog type influences, and luckily I was able to recruit John to play
bass in this project so it kept us together. I was also performing in a cover band project Levity. These two projects kept me busy
and helped build my chops. All the while though I would listen to these old Overlords recordings and dream of what could have been.
Finally after much patience, my dreams came to fruition.
JL: I say intervening because you came back together in 2010 correct? Again I have to ask, what brought the reunification about?
DAVID: I had become the prodigal son. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d nipped a promising flower in the bud – that a wrong needed to be righted. And I was paying a spiritual price for abandoning music. So finally we had a reminiscing night. I was pretty touched by how they received me considering I caused the breakup. Brad served his good beer and we just listened to old tapes, toasting each other. Suddenly we were playing again and compiling tracks for what would become “Sonic Astronomy.”
BRAD: I would listen to old recordings and think, “what a shame. All of this great music wasted.” I would call David to see how he was and relive past triumphs together. He had long since given up on music, and I was very sad for him. I knew that for him just like me, music was in his soul. After many of these calls I finally convinced him to get back together for old times’ sake to just listen to what we had done. It was a great night!! After much arm twisting, I convinced him to jam and see what it felt like. Although we had forgotten a lot of the licks, the undeniable chemistry was still there. The future seems bright...