Plastic

Most people haven’t heard of Plastic.. but they should have because I think they are one of the hottest talents out there right now. Signed to Accession Records in Germany (European home to bands like [:SITD:], Assemblage 23, Lights Of Euphoria so they are in really good company).
If you’re anything like me, you were really disappointed by the last releases by the major players – Assemblage 23’s Storm, VNV Nation’s Future Perfect, Covenants Northern Light, Apoptygma Berserks Harmoniser – these were bands that should have taken EBM/Industrial music to the next level. They were the big boys battling it out for supremacy in the underground world of EBM/Industrial, but they failed to live up to the expectations. So with these big players messing up, suddenly there was a void at the top. The crown was there for the taking, which of the young pretenders would step up to the mark, who could worry the big boys? Move in on their turf?
Bands like [:SITD:], Interlace, Pride and Fall, Mind.In.A.Box, Rotersand they’re all in the wings with excellent debuts.. but the surprise entries into the fray were Düsseldorf based band Plastic.
Plastic came out of nowhere to claim a significant chunk of the big four’s territory. Their debut album – [kunst]:Stoff didn’t really do anything.. it was darkwave after all, not anything like what they were to become. But with a revamped line-up and distinctly different sound they re-launched onto the scene in 2003 with the excellent Sense Of life single, which was instantly a hit on the German Club scene. The consequent album, Black Colours is in my humble opinion one of the finest albums of recent years.
I remember the day I got it.. I stuck it on my stereo, stepped into the shower (the normal place for a first listen to an album) and found myself singing along to a song that I’d never heard before…I was hooked. Who the hell was this I asked myself??

I was listening to an album that merged all the best bits of VNV nation, Assemblage 23 and even a smattering of Covenant and yet didn’t sound like an imitator, it was the perfect future pop album that anyone of the big four could’ve and should’ve written. But while these big bands were getting stuck up their own arses with major records deals or new production techniques, Matthes was stealing the rug from the under their feet. Tracks like “Lies”, “Home” and “Sense of Life” were on every respectable DJ’s play lists all through 2004, and guaranteed a floor full of excited and sweaty club-goers. Matthes had got the right mix of infectious as hell hook-lines and sing a long melodies all in a Club friendly format that made Black Colours easily my album of 2003.
Late 2004 at the INFEST festival Plastic made their UK debut. I sure as hell wasn’t going to miss the opportunity of talking to the main man himself Matthes Ewald about Plastic and their plans for world domination.. What I found is a man who is humble, sweet and passionate about his music, this is what he had to say for himself…

(DJ Cyberchrist 2004)

DJCC - DJCYBERCHRIST
M – MATTHES EWALD

We are stuck in the backstage at Infest festival the UK’s number one EBM/Industrial festival. I’ve walked into the room to receive a great firm handshake and face-wide welcoming grin from Matthes. He is quite short, but well proportioned. Shaved headed, he looks the business, dressed in a combat vest, black jeans and big storm trooper boots. He has a thick German accent, and a good command of English. He proffers me one of his many beers from a well-stocked fridge, his red eyes tell the tale that he’s already had a few himself. He is a man full of energy, he’s eager to tell me all about Plastic, the passion is burning in those reddened eyes.. as he strikes up a Marlboro light, I begin the interview –


DJCC – So give us a brief history of Plastic Matthes.. where the hell did you turn up from??
M – Plastic started in 1999, Düsseldorf, Germany. I started it and began straight away working on our first album [kunst]: Stoff. It is more of a darkwave album more for listening to at home, but it also has some Club tracks. We took the demo to the famous club Matrix and the DJ played the track ”In my eyes’” Adrian Hates (the founder and owner of Accession Records) went up to the DJ Box and asked the DJ who it was that he was playing, and the DJ said this is PLASTIC and the man who made it is over there, his name is Matthes. So Adrian comes over and we talk and he says come to my office the next day, so obviously we did. When we get there Adrian tells us that he likes the songs and the demo, but that it is not the type of release he normally does because it is not really commercial enough but that he will release it anyway, because he likes the songs that much. We were really delighted, and sure enough in 2002 Accession released the album and we got to do a lot of touring with some really big name bands and we can’t believe our luck!

DJCC – Who were you touring with?
M – Oomph! , VNV Nation, Hocico, Neurotic Fish, all very popular bands at the time, and great people who really helped us develop and mature as a band and gave us many tips for the future.
When we returned from all the touring we began the work on Black Colours. The problem was that first album’s producer, Olli Muller from Megadump, had a different vision for where Plastic was to go next musically, and so I had to begin a new search for a new producer and I stumbled upon Stefan Voigt. Stefan Voigt was working with T.O.Y. before and is a very experienced producer, so we began working together to see if we could create something and we started with the track “Would you care’ and after maybe three weeks we had the final song.. and I took it home and listened to it over and over for two weeks straight, and I couldn’t believe how good it was. It was like Stefan had looked in my brain and taken the thoughts and ideas and put it down in music. I couldn’t believe that someone could translate my ideas so well.. so anyway I called him up and said “you are my producer”, and invited him to become the second member of PLASTIC.

DJ CC – So how does that work? Is Stefan here with you?
M – Oh no, he doesn’t do the live shows with us, he only does the studio work with me, and together we create the music that is PLASTIC. It’s a great relationship! He loves doing the music, I love the singing and the touring we work so well together. It’s really great and he’s a real integral part of PLASTIC.

DJCC – Black Colours is such a different sounding album to your first why did you change your sound?
M – Black Colours is the real sound of what has always been in my head from the beginning of Plastic, this is how I always imagined Plastic would be. So although it sounds different to the listener this is how I always heard Plastic in my head… it is just that with Stefan that sound has finally come into being. It’s a more ‘Clubby’ album and that is more like me because I like what I hear at Clubs and learn new songs at Clubs so I am glad that it has turned out like that, that is what I always intended.

DJCC – So what bands would you say have influenced your new sound?
M – Tom Shear from Assemblage 23, he is a big influence, people say we sound like Assemblage, but then people also say we sound like Laetherstrip..

DJCC – Laetherstrip?? You don’t sound anything like…
M – I KNOW!!!! [we both burst into laughter at this point..]
M – Some people say we sound like VNV nation, Scooter, And One..

DJCC – SCOOTER???!! [it’s such a ridiculous comparison that we erupt into uncontrollable great guffaws of laughter.. the other people in the room turn to look at us, that only makes us worse!]
[After wiping a tear from his eye..Matthes continues]
M –Yes, everyone has an opinion, we sound like this band, we sound like that band, but I think that Plastic is just capturing the current style of Future pop and that’s why people try to say we emulate other bands when really we are creating our own sound and our own style that is only Plastic. We don’t use “Virus” (number one used synth in the EBM/Industrial field) pre-sets like lots of other bands do. I like the sounds but to be honest we don’t have one, it’s too expensive!! [Matthes explodes into laughter]
We have my own sounds and my first thought is always the melody. I like the melody in the main parts. This is what I base my songs around. This is the…[he’s struggling for the English..then gives up] “Sheisse!”
Fuck this English! [we both fall about laughing while Matthes makes goo, goo ga ga! Sounds.. intimating that he feels like a baby learning the
language!]
Help me!! [at this point I decide to step in, I know what he’s getting at, because Plastic is all about the melodies, the hook-lines, that is what makes it so great]

DJCC – So what you’re saying is that you start the songs and create them around the melodies right?
M – Yes we want really catchy melodies that people will instantly recognise and love! But this is not always where we start. I have the vision and I come up with the melody and the hook-line, and then I take this to Stefan and he puts his influence into the track. He puts his sounds and then check this back with me and we go back to each other adding pieces and this is how we create the music. Take for instance Lies..

DJCC – I love Lies, that opening synth-hook line.. the way the beat kicks in I just think it’s a perfect club tune..
M – Thank you.. but you know Lies was a completely different sounding song when it began its life. It was Stefan who insisted on doing a new hook-line and vocal line for the song, I tried it and we were like “this is great!” Stefan pushes me to do things with my vocals that I might not normally do and this is why I think Plastic is so successful we are very good at getting the best out of each other. We always challenge and push each other musically and creatively. This makes Plastic such a pleasure to do! It’s like Stefan just looks in my brain and brings out what I am thinking!

DJCC – Many people are tipping Plastic for the top. They say you could be the next big thing, how does that make you feel? Does it add pressure?
M - I can’t believe that people are being so nice about us.. it is so wonderful to hear these things. I can’t believe that so many people like Plastic, it really humbles me! When I read the reviews of the album I was so happy! I showed the first review I found [my review of Black Colours for www.electromeda,net by some weird coincidence!] to my girlfriend I was so much in shock, that the album I had done was getting such great reviews. But to answer your question, I don’t really feel any pressure to create the second album. I will just do the best I can and if I like the sounds and tracks I have made for the next CD then that is enough for me. I think I know what I like, and it seems that people like what I like and so I will go with my instincts and create an album that feels right and sounds right to me.. hopefully that will be good for everyone else too!

DJCC – So what do you listen to at home Matthes? What gets on the Plastic home stereo?
M – You’d be surprised actually it is very, very different to the music I make..

DJCC – Go on surprise us!
M – Well, actually a little bit of Robbie Williams..

DJCC – Robbie Williams??
M – Yes he has a great voice! And he’s a great singer and performer. I’m a huge fan of Assemblage 23, VNV Nation, Hocico, Nickelback I love that song they did for Spiderman soundtrack that one makes me cry when I hear it! Also Haujobb, I know Daniel Myer really well.. he’s such an incredible musician.

DJCC – On the latest Accession records sampler you did a new side-project called S.N.A.R.P.H.. a noise project, I believe. Any plans to release any more S.N.A.R.P.H?
M – Yes, S.N.A.R.P.H is an industrial noise project I have. It is music that really hits you in your face, it’s really clubby..I really like it.

DJCC – Is this with Stefan too?
M – Oh no! This is only Matthes’ work.. And I have just finished recording and producing the EP for the project. It won’t be released until November and it will be released by the label ‘Pro-Noise’ not Accession.
Frank who runs pro-noise is good friends with Adrian from Accession and is also very good at promoting Noise bands and so we decided that it would be best for S.N.A.R.P.H to release the EP with him. [note this EP is a big hit at the moment in Germany.. and a cracking Noise debut that really show the depth of talent that Matthes has.]

DJCC – So I hear that you did some concerts with [;SITD:}?
M – Yes we are good friends.

DJCC – Didn’t you step in for Tom when he broke his arm?
M – No actually I stepped in for Carsten when they played over in New York.

DJCC – Oh, Right.. How was it?
M – Wow! It was like amazing.. It was like Depeche Mode playing Madison Square Gardens. the people were going crazy! It was really a great experience.

DJCC – Any plans to work with [:SITD:] in the future?
M – No actually we are good friends but we are different musically. However I am thinking of doing a collaboration with Ian Ross of Fleshfield from America. It’s going to be Fleshfield’s sound.. maybe a little more commercial, but with my vocals. More future pop than EBM.

DJCC – Do you have a name for the project?
M – No. We’ve talked about the project but as of yet we haven’t got together, but I’m sure it will happen
[well you heard it first here guys Plastic and Fleshfield now that’s a combination I like the sound of!!]

DJCC – So why should we buy your album Matthes??
M – Well it’s not shit! That’s for sure! [Matthes crack a massive grin] And if you like to dance, and like to party, and go to clubs then you will probably like Plastic.. I hope you will anyway.

I have to part company with Matthes at that point, our interview has already overrun considerably and he’s gotta get ready to go on stage. Later on that night I see Matthes strutting his stuff on stage. Plastic are just as good live.. they do exclusive live mixes of their favourite tunes. I’m jumping up and down in the audience giving it my all. It’s one of the highlights of INFEST, until that is we are interrupted by the FIRE ALARM… I’m guessing that the heat from the sweaty mass of bodies otherwise known as the INFEST crowd must’ve set off the fire alarms, whatever it was these guys are amongst the hottest properties in the EBM/Industrial scene at the moment if you haven’t got their Black Colours album go seek it out, you’ll find yourself wondering how the hell you ever missed it first time around!

c. DJ CYBERCHRIST 2005