London quartet Plain Sails have exploded onto the local scene over the last couple of years with their engaging, high energy yet delicate anthemic rock sound. And they’re ready to spread their sails to more distant lands, if you’ll pardon the pun.
The band first formed back in early 2017 when Leigh Greenhough (lead guitar) and Andy Chappell (vocals and guitar), who’d begun writing music together a few years previously, added Andy Tanaka (bass and backing vocals) – who went to university with Leigh – and Jack Bullock (drums) to the mix.
As Andy explains: “Since then we have just been hammering away relentlessly in the rehearsal and recording studios, playing our first gig in August 2017 headlining The Camden Assembly prior to our first release. The rest has been a (organised!) blur really – we map things out pretty meticulously with the support of our manager so we never stop and there’s generally four or five things going on at any one time.”
Their musical awakening seems to have been borne out of the good old bands of the 1990s, with dalliances towards metal and more modern, drum-heavy rock bands like Royal Blood. As Andy puts it: “The Britpop explosion gave me no other choice but to follow what I fell in love with. Music was always there but that was when the penny dropped. I was only young when it kicked off but I just remember being in total awe of what music can make you feel and wanted more than anything else to be a part of it. The gut feeling of a powerful, thumping track and the aching beauty of a haunting lyric/melody is just overwhelming and constant for me.”
And those influences are apparent in Plain Sails’ big, bold, engaging guitar-led rock sound. The latest offering of this is Made of Glass, which was released last month, which opens up with light guitars and synthy stabs under Andy’s light vocals “I’m made of glass, I’m made of stone, Can’t hold on, Can’t be alone, I want to stay but I’ve got to go, I’ll be here, I’ll be gone” then picks up pace as more upbeat drums kick in.
A second verse feeds into a singalong chorus with Andy’s big vocals supported by fast-paced driving drums. A funky darting riff kicks in during a more upbeat verse that feeds into another lively chorus, which feeds into big “woh-oh” vocals over a darting bassline and the stabby synth sounds to bring the song to an end.
On the track, Andy explains: “The first thing you’ll get from the track is a haunting simplicity. It opens delicately, reflecting the melancholy lyrical undertones of the song before breaking into a big, upbeat, pumping verse. By the time you hit the chorus, it’s in full-blown anthem mode and doesn’t let go.
“We’re delivering a deeply personal message in an uncompromising, energetic package. In terms of writing style it’s very us – a juxtaposition of sentiment and drive.”
Equally impressive is previous single All The Lights, which opens up with acoustic guitar chords and a darting riff that drop into cool opening vocals “Take it away, What do you say” then begins to pick up pace. A mass of guitar and glittering synth noise build up to a seriously catchy chorus of “And all the lights go down in here, Makes it harder to see clear, And it ain’t easy to take advice, And just remember to think twice, And all the lights go down in here.” Check it out in the video below:
The promise of the band saw them support Toploader at the O2 Academy last month. As Andy tells us: “It was a great evening! To play the main support slot to a band of Toploaders’ credentials in a venue of that size was a special experience for us. We had a great turnout and the place was packed and buzzing, we had a great show. We’re a big stage band – we thrive on a large crowd and venue and it didn’t disappoint. Something we want to be doing more regularly for sure.”
Andy tells us that the band see themselves as a collection of different influences that, when merged together, doesn’t sound like any single one individually. As he explains: “You can hear moments in there for sure but the overall sound is one we’re quite proud to call ours. At the root of it, we’re a guitar-based indie/alternative rock band but we go a lot deeper than that.
“We have big, powerful tracks engineered to get your adrenaline and heart racing and we have soft, intimate and delicate moments that reach out to the listener, all intertwined with deep and sometimes cutting personal lyrics. We’ve had a pretty obscure collection of comparisons, so it would be interesting to hear your thoughts!”
But their big rock sound is underpinned by a focus on emotions and experiences. As Andy says: “I try to write in a metaphorical way where possible, without being overly cryptic. All the writers I look up to do something similar and, for me, it allows you as a listener to relate that lyric to something in your life, whilst understanding what the track means to the writer. It’s that connection I feel is important and work hard to try to achieve.
“Musically, we build the track around an initial idea, all contributing individual aspects that compliment or reflect the feel of the track. The music doesn’t always align with the theme of the song as often the lyrics come after, but we find that juxtaposition just another interesting aspect of what we do and something we like to explore.”
You can see Plain Sails for yourselves as they play Camden Rocks Festival on 1 June, while they’re currently organising a UK tour for May and June that’ll take in five to six cities across the country. They also have festivals lined up, with warm-up dates, so stay tuned for plenty of opportunities to see them live.
They’ll also have more music coming our way shortly, as they’re in the midst of recording three new tracks that will be released from through the summer and into the Autumn.
As Andy adds: “We just really want to get the word out there. We’re addicted to playing live, writing music and want more than anything to be heard. We’re four lads chasing our collective dream and are putting everything we have and are into it. We do what we do to try to connect with people on some level. That’s what all this is about, it’s what music can do.”