Interview with bassist Nich Richard and guitarist Tommy McCord | By John B. Moore
Michigan’s The Plurals play a brand of indie punk so unconcerned with mass appeal or conforming that they never even bothered sending demos to labels. Instead, they simply set up their own label called GTG Records. The group – comprised of bassist Nich Richard, guitarist Tommy McCord, and drummer Hattie Danb – put out their third album, An Onion Tied to My Belt, on July 21, teaming up with two other small labels to get the music out there.
Why start the label? It seems like a lot to do when you’re already busy with the band?
TM: The idea behind starting the label was to build a community of bands that would be interested in helping each other with shows and promoting each other’s releases. Over time, the function of it turned to building up funds to help bands put out vinyl. Also, we thought it would be cool to start our own label—i.e. we read “Our Band Could Be Your Life” when we were in high school.
NR: It was a very easy and natural thing after the influence of “Our Band…” and [we] needed some way to put out the stuff we recorded. We’ve never really lived and been a band where the whole “shopping out your demo to the majors” [thing] was anything beyond a fantasy joke, so it seemed like really the only option when we were young, and we’ve stuck with it.
This third record is coming out on your label, and two others. How is that being divided up?
TM: Infintesmal and Diet Pop Records are splitting some of the production costs with us and assisting with grassroots distribution. Also, we thought it would be cool to have three labels in completely different parts of the country—Michigan, Florida, and Arizona—be involved with the record.
NR: Both labels are run by super buddies who have done very similar tours to us and put out music on a similar level to us. It is cool that both labels also delve into a good mix of straightforward punk and more eclectic work: folk, heavy stuff, psych rock, etc. It’s simpatico to what we’re doing.
Have you ever thought about the pros of just letting another label handle all the work?
NR: Do you know any pros who would take us? Feel free to give them my e-mail address. Seriously though, we are actively working on the juggling of “business” and still doing the music stuff, and there’s a learning curve. It’d be nice to, like, hire some folks to help with that end when the time is right.
TM: The problem-solving aspect of putting out your own record is fun in many ways, but also can be overwhelming when things like mixing, mastering, and pressing inevitably get delayed, the record comes out a year after you first intend it to, and you can’t blame anyone else. It would be nice to actually have someone else to blame at times. Being able to get the end product together and know that you did it yourself is very gratifying and, in the most clichéd sense, “makes it all worth it.” However, GTG is working on and hoping to do more co-releases, and we would happily partner up with the right people on a future record.
Did you do anything different with An Onion Tied to My Belt?
TM: There’s nothing overtly conceptual about An Onion Tied to My Belt; in retrospect, most of the songs deal with the topic of struggling to communicate, but that wasn’t defined beforehand. When the record was being tracked and mixed we made a conscious effort to, er, try to communicate—ha!—our sense of humor with some of the shorter “interlude” pieces, which is something we haven’t done before. The record also was recorded in three different studios of varying technical standpoints—home, better home, and “pro”—which also was a first for us. Hopefully we succeeded in making the record an interesting but fun listen. At the very least, the quickest shortcut to our sense of humor was titling the record after a Simpson’s reference.
What was the inspiration behind the song “Facebook”?
NR: The “Facebook” title came about, basically, as a joke. I improved that little bridge section live every night at different shows, and usually made some tacky reference for people to hit us up on the “‘Book.” The actual meat of the song was my standard writing process, which usually goes; stream of consciousness throwing together of some couplets and feeling out melodies while practicing a song idea. Usually, at some point, I retroactively get a feel for what the song actually is about and I flesh it out. This song was primarily about frustration over relationships in limbo, being push-pulled by someone and not knowing where to go with it. I might even be digging there; a lot of times, I try to actively ignore what my songwriting words—aka lyrics—are about.
You guys book your own tours. How often to you get out? Is it difficult to find the time to tour?
TM: We do all have varying responsibilities, so scheduling a tour is challenging at times, but we’re all on board with touring often and we try to do two extended multi-week tours a year with regional weekend stuff sprinkled in between.
NR: I’ve always had jobs that I would give zero shits if they fired me. I’m pretty good at finding money with odd jobs. My current job has given me ultimatums multiple times that “I can’t keep going out and coming back whenever I want!” and I just nod and leave anyway, and they still hit me up the day I’m home asking if I can pick up a shift. So there’s that.
What’s next for the band?
TM: As soon as the record comes out—set for July 21—we’re going to do a tour to the West Coast and back. East Coast stuff should happen in the fall, and then hopefully, this winter, we’ll knock out another album!
NR: I’ve been working on tweeting while high more, as I hear being Twitter active is a good thing and I am funnier when I’m fucked up. I’m looking forward to getting back out West and doing some little things in the South and Midwest, and maybe doing some little festivals or whatever.