Interview: Plane Crasher

Lock up your Tube Amps… It’s PLANE CRASHER!!

Described by Terrorizer Magazine as “a Wild fusion of The Jesus Lizard, The Ramones and Shellac”… Hereford noise merchants Plane Crasher are keeping the spirit of playing REALLY FUCKING LOUD alive and well out in a damp corner of middle England. DIY to the core, with a triple single, a live release and a six-track studio EP under their belts, if you like your punk super-analogue, super-heavy and Steve Albini-filthy, then these boys deserve your attention.

Edward Ling asked the questions, answers supplied by a gestalt entity of the whole band (Edd Tipton – Guitar & Vocals, Matt Rees – Guitar, Ben Davies – Bass, Rich Allen – Drums) and channelled by Rich. Who happens to look an an awful lot like a young Iggy Pop.

So… It appears from that Facetube that you’ve been recording some new material… how’s it all going? A bold new direction into acoustic folk the offing?

Yeah, we recorded some demos in October at our drummer’s house with a view to go into the studio in April. Don’t ask us for a release date though – that’s way too hard a question. Musically it’s probably going to be a bit slower than what most people have come to expect from us, at least in parts. We’re trying to avoid repeating ourselves where possible, and bringing the tempo down a bit gives us way more space to explore new ideas. We’re still writing for it though so we’re bound to change our minds a few more times before we record. Whatever the case, it’s going to be noisy. Noisy acoustic folk.

The Welsh Marches are not widely celebrated as a harsh spawning ground for edgy, underground punk. Though maybe with the exception of T’Pau and that band that did that song about Breakfast at Tiffanys. How do you find it plying a trade of cataclysmic krunk and chugging – so very far from the bright lights of western civilisation?

We get asked to turn down quite a lot. In a decent sized city (or any decent venue) nobody bats an eyelid at a band all using tube amps through half-stacks, but by the reaction we get from some sound guys around here, you’d think they’d never seen a 4×12 before. We had the power turned off on us half-way through the set at a gig for ‘Malvern Rocks’ festival this year. Evidently whoever booked us hadn’t checked out the band at all, and put us on at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, opening for some acoustic jazz folk bands. You get the idea…
The whole ‘networking’ game can be pretty difficult when you’re from around here – try offering a band from London or Birmingham a gig swap in Hereford! All that said, the lack of similar bands can often be really rewarding. When you’re playing shows with such varied lineups you get to see and make friends with great bands you’d never normally dream of checking out.

I was being facetious there, by the way. There does seem to be something of a “scene” sending out a few shoots recently in the Hereford and Worcester locale of late… Has this always been there, growling away amongst the apple farms, monumental ecclesiastical architecture, blue remembered hills and childhood home of Fred West – or is something new building?

There’s always been people making heavy, noisy music around these parts. The rise and fall of the ‘scene’ seems to be mostly reliant on the presence of (or lack-of) an audience. Any musician with a scrap of integrity will keep doing ‘their thing’, because it’s what they enjoy doing, regardless of whether anyone pats their backs or not. Shred Perry is the only promoter who seems to be putting on heavy/alternative shows worth playing or attending in Hereford. We’ve recently started playing Worcester quite a bit and there’s a really good crowd over there – big shout out to Tone Monster Promotions and Embrace the Chaos, who are both putting on tons or great gigs right now.

Genres can be a bit troublesome. A good way for the music industry and press to either sell or write off new bands, some say – but also a way of knowing where a band is coming from and a good guide for new fans… How would you define your sound – if at all?

No band likes to be pigeonholed. Well, at least, not any bands worth listening to. Never trust a band that openly and deliberately categorises themselves. More often than not they’re just repeating clichés from that genre, which generally means they’re going to suck. We’ve been described as all kinds of things, from “stoner rock” to “driving speed-metal”. “Heavy punk” seemed to fit the bill quite well. For the benefit of potential fans, when we have to, we usually describe ourselves as “alternative noise rock” or something similar. “Loud” always helps too.

Social Media, platforms like Bandcamp and Soundcloud and the cottage industry pressing vinyl in greater volume than ever does seem to be make it easier for serious DIY outfits to get their stuff out there, either digitally or physically. What’s your experience of doing it yourselves in this brave, new age? Any too good to be true offers from “labels” tempting you away from DIY?

While the whole social media thing is undeniably useful for building and maintaining a fan-base, as far as record sales go 99% of it so far has been at shows, plus a few through record shops & distros. The best way to get yourselves out there is to get yourselves out there (i.e. playing gigs).
We haven’t been approached by any labels – most labels don’t really offer us anything we can’t do ourselves anyway. Maybe a big stack of cash. That would be nice. If a label offered us money to do what we do already we’d consider it. But they haven’t yet. And they probably won’t.

While we’re on this kick… for a garage band you work up a well-produced sound – who’s the sound geek? And you seem to be using the microphone in the lav trick for the demos, from what I hear…

We’re all the sound geek! All of us have plenty of sound engineering experience, we know what sounds good and how to get it and we’re all massive control freaks, so DIY is for us the way to get the best results. It’s much harder to keep your vision pure on a major label. Look at Elvis, he died on his toilet trying to perfect his vocal sound.

Beautiful. You clearly know you hardcore history – there’s a lot of Ginn, Albini, WM Sims going on in your stuff. Who do you think your influences are… And what do you listen to in the “van”?

If we had a van, we’d probably be listening to someone complain about the music that’s playing. We have a lot of common ground, most of which is pretty evident in the music, but there’s also a shit-ton of things we don’t agree on (clue – don’t mention the Beatles to Matt). We always bring our full backline to shows, so several vehicles is the only option. Edd’s car is usually mostly huge compilations of 50’s and 60’s music with the occasional Shellac song thrown in. Ben’s car is mainly host to noise and stoner-doom. Rich listens to free-jazz. On his own.

And to put you on the spot: Big Black or Black Flag?

Big Black. Black Flag are great but since Greg Ginn fucked it all up Big Black seem a lot more relevant.

Speaking of scenes and bands – Any bands currently playing really excite you right now – or that you want to give a shout?

We’re really enjoying the current offerings from Red Fang, Lamps and Pissed Jeans right now. Also, the latest Future of the Left album is a welcome return to form. As far as bands that we know/have played with, the following have the Plane Crasher seal of approval: Fetus Christ, New Cowboy Builders, Gag Reflex, Workin’ Man Noise Unit, Mansize, Evolution of Man, Grant National, Torpor, and Mangle.

New material aside, what’s next? Any plans to venture further afield to brutalise the bourgeoisie of the big cities here or abroad?

We’ve got an Ireland and Northern England tour booked for March 2014 (promoters – give us a shout, we still have a few gaps). We’re also putting together a UK tour next year with the aforementioned Evolution of Man, plus we have some dates with US band The Bismarck on their UK tour. We’ve had various offers of gigs in Europe but they’re all way too far apart to really justify a tour at this point. As far as England goes, we’ll play anywhere for petrol money and free lasagne.

Thanks guys – anything else we need to know about you or the fine cathedral city of Hereford before we go?

We’re supposed to be getting a Nando’s at some point, however at the time of writing we still don’t have a Burger King.

So there you go. Times are indeed hard on the road to Abergavenny.

You can find Plane Crasher in the ether at:

Or even better, catch ’em live.

This piece was also published in analogue ink and paper in Issue #25 of Lights Go Out – copies available at

Review: Stillborn – Degraded Culture [EP]

Ooooh. Now. These Austrian metallo-hardcore monkeys really are right pissed off about something or other. Chuggy and and a little sludgy, Stillborn‘s Degraded Culture is a dirty shitnugget of cymbals, distortion and barely intelligible death-rattle growl-a-rama vocal larkery. Kind of like Bastions, but with a lethal dose of central European angst.

This actually all works rather well if you just want some testy filth in your ears. Track 3 “The Devil’s Face” is a nasty little cracker of the genre – great lurching riffs and deft use of the grunt to crown the breakdown, and in terms of subject matter, a simple little ditty about why religion is a REALLY bad thing. Bulls eye. Lyrically, of course it’s unapologetic Sixth Form throughout. Speaking personally, I even recognise some of their lines. I think I wrote much the same things on a Lever Arch folder while sat right at the back of A-Level English, at a time when I was fixated on Ministry and the Dead Kennedys and was properly angry about the West’s response to the Yugoslav Civil War. Or maybe it was Somalia. Not sure. It was ages ago.

Nonetheless, these boys really do seem to take the systems collapse / doomsday conceit very seriously. And why ever not. However, I only know this because the lyrics are helpfully posted up on the Bandcamp page so when you stream the tracks you can read along. Without this, you wouldn’t have a clue what they are banging on about. But the banging is the good bit. So I wouldn’t worry.

3 out of 5 high fives!

Review: Youth Man – Bad Weather [EP]

There are some that would look to pigeon hole this as Grunge Revival. Or something along those lines. However, after long and careful consideration, I think that the some that would say this can fuck off. Because this is, basically, brilliant.

This five-track EP from spiky Birmingham three-piece Youth Man undeniably takes a motherload of inspiration from that whole early nineties American Northwest sound – and, as it’s ballsy as hell female-fronted fare, you can hear the likes of Bikini Kill and the original [sic] Riot Grrrl thing clear as a bell. Opener Heavy Rain specifically owes a lot to Babes In Toyland at their Fontanelle-era peak – but I’m struggling to see why that is remotely a bad thing in an age such as ours where Robin Thicke is allowed to walk free in the streets. Not enough militancy these days, by far. But seriously. This is no throwback. This is a breath of pure fresh air.

Track 2 (Insipid) is a pokey, almost Rockabilly-like smack in the mouth. The last three tracks take the venerable LOUD / quiet / LOUD formula and throw it back with an intricacy and intent – and a dark lyrical intelligence. The girl up front has some serious lungs – her vocals alternately soaring with the guitars, wailing like a righteous banshee and then whispering with the minimalist refrains. It really is a joyous thing to hear a simple guitar/bass/drums combo make such a powerful mass of noise as you’ll find here.

And to dwell on the influences of something this febrile is to miss the whole goddam point. There’s not just Grunge in here anyway, if we’re being picky. As is the fusing nature of all modern “alternative” music, you also get flashes of Dischord (Dag Nasty, Slant 6) and the whole gamut of high end “Post Hardcore” – and other stuff that I can’t quite put my finger on. All of which gives this a look-you-straight-in-the-eye personality that is all of its own. The PR calls this “Afrocore”. I suspect this may be a Radkey reference and I’m not all to keen on the term, but I think it comes close. And who cares what name you stick on this.

Stop reading this drivel. And just buy or download this. Now.

5 out of 5 high fives!

Live: Arbour Lights / New Alaska / Mansize – Firefly Worcester, 7/11/13

It’s an arty enough place, Worcester. They have an art festival and everything. But it was always meant to be a little bit shit if you wanted anything edgy or underground. It’s a great place to bring up kids. Loves royalty. Makes sauce. But punk and DIY? Best hit the M5 and head for Bristol. Or Birmingham.

Then, sort of around spring time this year, to this reviewer, anyway – things came out of the leftfield woodwork that were never expected. A world class skatecore band from Japan – JAPAN – played the fricking Firefly – on a Thursday, for THREE QUID. Baby Godzilla – watch out for these guys, people – went apeshit bonkers above that same pub only a few weeks before. A relentless horde of Metalcore, Grind and all sorts of gnarly bands keep playing at a truly charming dive-hole venue up by Shrub Hill (The Bridge) – for FREE. Will Tun and the Wasters are doing a gig at that same venue at the end of this month – for FREE.

Maybe it’s just me. But I had no idea that the supposed home of the displeasingly alliterative “Worcester Woman” – a genuine political pollster term for the key consumerist cosy female reactionary demographic who (supposedly) swept New Labour into power in the 90s – could actually be this cool.

But anyway. Speaking of cool. This was another Surprise Attacks triple bill Thursday. With some serious quality on display.

Local (Worcester) tri-hander Mansize kind of shambled on stage with minimal fanfare, and an almost apologetic wishing of the crowd a happy Thursday. Basically female-fronted and not lacking in brute sonic attack, this was periodically intricate 90’s grunge revival – with a few jagged hooks stuck in for good measure. The vocalist has definitely got a PJ Harvey thing going on (guess the clue is in the bandname) and to me that’s a thing to be loved. There was also a bit of cheeky crossover – the deployment of a rapper in the old school Gunshot vein on one track – something which could easily have gone wrong. It basically didn’t. Which is a hell of a thing to pull off. I guess this entire band – and the MC – were at best being potty-trained when the lost 90’s gem the Judgement Night Soundtrack compilation was released; featuring as it did a collaboration between Mudhoney and Sir Mix-a-lot (and many others in the same vein… if in doubt, google). But this little number, played live above a pub in Worcester, could have sat as track six on this very album quite comfortably. Genuinely.

Representing for Stourbridge, New Alaska were a much simpler proposition. Clean, fresh, a touch of neo-pub rock, and medically impossible to dislike… these guys were tight. Very tight. They visibly love what they do, and the love was downright infectious. There’s more subtlety and diversity on their studio material – shades of Post-Hardcore and even a bit of mathcore unless my ears deceive me – but live, this was just shitnails, joyous speed punk. More of the same please, gents. You really can come again.

And finally, boasting more effects pedals per square foot than I have ever seen in my life, and some seriously boutique kit… the symphonic majesty of Arbour Lights. Fronted by a Wunderkind remiscent of a teenage Beck, only more laid back and less off his freaky nut, on Bass – this was instrumental noise right out of the top drawer. To be specific, out of the top drawer of a bespoke designed six-drawer cabinet, hand-made by a master craftsman in a workshop, probably somewhere in the Cotswolds. Said Wunderkind held his place centre stage, working his effortless craft without a single word, for the whole set. This guy had so much neck and brass he even deployed a bow to his four string, Jimi-goddam-Page style (only Jimi Page was a guitarist, yeah I know) – while the big guy on rhythm guitar went right off to his music. The whole performance was completely wordless – but when you are this good at what you do with the equipment, vocals are pretty much superfluous. Unless, say, they were to summon up the spirit of Richard Burton to recite some Dylan Thomas poetry in an quiet patch, a la War of the Worlds, or something. That would have gone nicely. Awesome.

And in sum, then, this evening was not something you’d associate with anodyne archetypal homeland of Worcester Woman. Not at all.

And so, Power to the fucking Woo. As they say.

Live: Crucial Section/Geriatric Unit/King of Pigs, The Firefly Worcester, 25/9/13

Old. It’s the new young (some say). Like some deranged sequel to the 80’s classic Cocoon, this collective paroxysm of undimmed rage from a couple of bands who really should know better by now was something to behold. And that was just the undercard… The main event (Crucial Section) had travelled halfway around the globe to play above this pub in Worcestershire. And deserve their own special attention. More on that later.

King of Pigs are as simple and as direct a proposition as their name implies. “We’ve got three songs left, so reckon that’ll be about five minutes” says the vocalist as the set claw-hammered towards a close. And that’s about the length of it – fast, nuts-tight gobbets of saw-edged noise that left nothing at the door. Get in, do the thing, get out. Having just got back from playing across Europe with some truly horrific Croatian Hard / Grind core outfits, this was probably a quiet day at the office for these boys. But a gig’s a gig – and they played hard.

Geriatric Unit have a combined age greater than the occupants of a GP’s waiting room on a wet Thursday morning. But the intensity of their collective and individual existential fury belies the fact that they have been plying this trade in various bands – not least Heresy and X-Rays – for well over quarter of a century. “Fookin hell…” goaded their grizzled front guy after the second track or so, “back in the day we’d be four bars in and people would be going fookin mental…” This challenge was naturally enthusiastically taken up. Surprising it is how much heat and bodily fluids a relatively small number of people can generate in a relatively small space.

There was even a bit of politics. Railing in between songs against societal corrosion by social media, rentier capitalist PR and mass delusion – this lot gave out everything you’d kind of want from old school H-core. Remember Napalm Death’s Scum era? Or anything from the good god almighty Dead Kennedys (remember them too, people?) This scene was always about counterculture, thinking for yourself and speaking out – and these boys haven’t forgotten that. Power to your thick, arthritic elbows, gents. Rage on.

And while all this was kicking off, a crew of unassuming and extremely polite Japanese dudes in bandanas and skate wear were quietly limbering up in the background… Crucial Section take this seriously – and purvey some of the finest, sharpest and most spirited skatecore punk you will ever hear. Being of around the right age to be doing this daft sort of thing in the first place, the sheer wall of energy these guys threw out could knock out the power grid in a medium-sized city. There was a whole lot of leaping into mid-air. The lead guitarist repeatedly charged the punters, axe first. The drummer played hard and angry. The line between band and audience pretty much blurred away to nothing, and most people in the room had a bit of a dance. Neither audience nor the band fully understood what was going on – cue flurries of sign language between the band and the promoters on basic things like set start times and the encore. But the music – razor sharp edged, and struck through with an honesty and a poke that makes many current UK bands – young or old – look slovenly and insincere by comparison – blasted clear across any language or cultural barriers… and unified the whole damn room in a sweaty mass of rough love.

Or something. Domo Arigato, lads. I hope you smashed Bristol as thoroughly as you did this one.