Coming outta Helsinki Finland, Plastic Tears have been around for ages knocking out a glam-punk sound on their own terms. They’ve just recorded a brand new album and to be fair it’s taking them to the next level with some excellent songs and they have undoubtedly found their own sound and added some good time Rock and Roll into the mix. We thought it was about time we sent out the call and brought them in for questioning. So it’s with great pleasure frontman and mainstay of the band Miqu who joined us for a chat and talk about all things Plastic Tears…
The band has been through some changes since starting out – how do you look back on the band’s career so far? You claimed that break-ups, lineups changes, record company changes and drama enough for a soap opera. Talk us through some of those soap opera moments?
We’ve been around for long, so we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. The dramas are mostly stuff that happened in the beginning of our career. But we’ve split up on stage, had fights on stage, been filmed completely wasted for national TV and so on. We were wild, young and cocky then, I guess we’re a bit more stable nowadays. We’ve had a lot of lineup changes back in the day, and Eco and I are the only ones that are left from the early days. But I’m not much for nostalgia myself, I prefer to focus on the present.
The lineup is settled now, right? who writes the tunes in the band? and why?
Yeah, we’ve had this lineup since the last album, ‘Angels With Attitude’, and the band has matured a lot I think. I guess that’s what happens when you find the right guys who stay together. If you look through the band catalogue I seem to have written most of the songs. But I guess that’s kind of natural as I’ve been in the band from the start. But everyone in the band is welcome to contribute to the songwriting, and on our new album Juha has also written a couple of tunes. And that’s good because it widens the band’s sound.
The new album ‘Anthems For Misfits’ is about to be released, tell us about who’s releasing it an Italian label I believe? Where it was recorded? Give us some of the background as to how it was recording under lockdown during a pandemic or had it already been tracked?
Wormholedeath Records is releasing it worldwide. We’re really excited to work with them as they seem to be doing good work and still leave us the freedom to do stuff ourselves. That’s important to us, as we’re used to being independent and doing a lot of promotion ourselves. We had a European tour at the end of 2019, and before that we had already recorded the base for the album, the drums and bass.
When we got back we continued recording, but soon after that the pandemic started showing signs of itself. We were still able to continue recording, even though it progressed slower than originally intended. Our original plan was to release this album in the summer of 2020. We had to look for a new keyboard player too, as the one that was lined up didn’t want to expose his family to the virus. That’s understandable, but luckily we found Ville who did a marvelous job in the studio. We recorded at East Sound Studios in Helsinki with Sammy Aaltonen who also did the previous album with us. It’s easy for us to work with him as he comes from similar musical backgrounds and we could well fit on the same bill as his band Private Line.
As somebody who has been lucky enough to hear it, it’s fair to say it’s your strongest album thus far. Is that fair? I think the songs are stronger and the songwriting is really good there have been a few risks taken would that be a fair assessment?
I agree, it’s our strongest album this far. ‘Angels With Attitude’ already got a great response, and people have doubted me when I’ve said the new album is even better. I guess that’s how bands always feel about their new release, but I honestly think this is true. The band, the songs, and the production is better. We gave a lot of thought to the arrangements and wanted it to be a diverse album. I guess there are some risks, but, it’s not like we’ve consciously calculated what risks to take, the songs just came out like this.
We’ve always mixed in a bit of this and that, like ‘Spanish Whispers’ (still one of my favorite songs) reggae vibe on the first album, ‘Beat Me Blue’ on the second and so on. But I guess this time the production makes these things stand out better, and overall the album is diverse in a good way I think.
The first video/single is ‘Riot Zone’ which has a good hook but is only a fraction of what’s on offer why choose this one as the first to go public off the new record?
We had a lot of choices so this was a hard decision to make. The label wanted to make an animated lyrics video to go with the single, so in the end we made the choice based on which song would fit that kind of video the best. It’s also a strong ‘bang your head and raise your fist’ style of song that shows our punkier side and is easy to sing along to. And it has a really funny midsection!
The album opens up with a real shot of energy with ‘Doomsday girls’ which is a real Rocker with some fantastic piano that really lifts the song – whos playing that? and how important is the running order of a record?
‘Doomsday Girls’ is a great opener, and it immediately gets you into a party mood. The piano was played by Ville Tolvanen, aka Doc Tolvanen. He also played all the other piano/organ/keyboard parts on the album. He’s a blues/roots guy, but he did fantastic work on all the different styles of the songs. He himself said he’s never used as many different sounds and styles in a studio session, that kind of sums up the album. A big thank you to Ville, his parts were the icing on the cake! The running order is really important. We’re old school in the way that an album is the crown of your work and want it to be strong and balanced from start to finish. So we spent a lot of time thinking of the running order, and I think it worked out pretty good.
Talk us through some of the highlights of the album in your opinion? I love the opener but in the first three songs, there is a wealth of rock and roll all different but all obviously by the same band. Has this lineup struck on its identity?
‘Doomsday’ is one of my favorites too. I also love the dark gothic feel of ‘Candlelight Hate Affair’, the pop sensibility of ‘Clash in the Night’, the New York Dolls meets Elvis of ‘Crybaby’ and Hallucinations is a really special song that I can’t really categorize. I think we have. We’ve never wanted to be a band that’s easy to define. There’s rock, punk, glam, power pop, hard rock and more blended into our own sound, and I think all the pieces fell together like they were meant now.
What’s the scene like in Helsinki? for fans of Rock and Roll, live music? places to go bands to see? I know you have support over here on plague island are there any plans to play any shows further afield?
Well, there used to be clubs and venues before the pandemic, let’s see what’s left once this is over. The scene is pretty good, there’s good rock bands of all kinds, and of course a lot of metal bands as we’re talking about Finland. What I’m missing here is the kind of small half-sleazy rock bars, like old Loose and Bäkkäri were. But as always, clubs and bars come and go. Still, good venues to go see bands here, like Tavastia, Semifinal, (new) Loose, On The Rocks, etc.
We had a UK tour scheduled for last year with Paradise Alley, but then came the virus. The plan was to reschedule them for this year, and we’re still on the lineup for HRH Sleaze in August, hopefully, it can be carried through. And if, then we’ll hopefully get some other gigs booked there too. We’re also looking forward to getting back to mainland Europe once that’s possible.
What formats will the new album be available on?
Italian label Wormholedeath Records is releasing it on CD and digital. There have been requests for vinyl too, but as our deal doesn’t include vinyl, we’re still trying to find a way to get that done.
With regards to the new record tell us how it comes together? How do you go about putting it together? Do you demo the songs as individuals? What works for Plastic Tears?
Usually, someone makes a rough demo at home which is then played to the other guys. We then start arranging it and everyone puts in their own parts before entering the studio. As we recorded over a quite long time frame with Sammy we still had the chance to make some changes at Sammy’s East Sound Studios. I think this a couple of days of recording every now and then works well for us, as it gives us time to do changes, as opposed to doing it on a tighter schedule.
Tell us a bit about yourself Miqu. Did you always want to front a band? Who were your influences growing up and what other artists still make music you relate to and get inspired by?
Me, I’m just a rock’n’roll singer, who writes a lot of songs of which only a fraction are completed. I guess since I fell in love with rock’n’roll at about the age of ten I knew I someday wanted to work with music in one way or another. Elvis was my first step into the world of rock. Shortly after that, I got hooked on punk and soon widened my musical taste with bands like Lords of the New Church, Cheap Trick, Hanoi Rocks, Slade, and many more. Of older artists that still make music I can relate to and get inspired by, I would say, Alice Cooper, Blondie, Social Distortion, John Fogerty, and Rolling Stones. Of the newer bands, I love The Interrupters, Tiger Army, The Sounds, and The Baboon Show. I’m a music fan so I listen to a lot of old and new music.
Thats always good to hear, someone still in love with music.
Congratulations on the album I think it’s your best to date and a big step up in production and songwriting and the whole package (that’s not to say the previous ones were bad, they weren’t but this is excellent)
Thank you Dom, happy to hear this and I agree completely!