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PlanB – Are you ready, world?

Taken from SCALA News December 2011 edition

Ever wondered what it’s like to write songs to fit within an established style? Is it a liberating or constraining pursuit? David Robinson sits down with PlanB and finds out…

The first incarnation of PlanB, the band, appeared on the Adelaide music scene way
back in 1984. The group came into being after the splintering of soul exponents Del
Webb Explosion, and very quickly established itself as a potent live act. Playing to
appreciative audiences all over town, as well as in some of South Australia’s regional
centres, PlanB quickly bedded down their sound as well as their act. They earned
themselves support spots with such notaries as Sydney ska exponents Allnighters,
The Models, Swanee, Eurogliders, Mondo Rock, Jon English, Invisible Mendez and
Goanna. Interstate tours and independent single releases followed and in 1987, just as
national success beckoned, the band split. How typical…

PlanB co-founder, mainstay and manager Peter “Sneaky Pete” Flierl takes up the
story:

“There was certainly a generous degree of disappointment from a personal
perspective, given the recent completion of both recording and filming our most
commercially accessible number to that point. I think a few of the band members had
simply tired of waiting for the band to make a wider impression and also, with a band
that size, there are always musical differences. As in the case of so many bands, the
timing of the split could certainly have been a lot better.”

In late 2008, after a generous hiatus spanning a couple of decades, Flierl started work
on an ambitious project – putting the band back together. Attempting to locate and
invite as many of the original members as possible, he made it clear to all that any
new incarnation of the band would feature all of the musical hallmarks that were
present in the original line-up. While restoring the original membership proved an
impossible task, the freshness and soul of the 1980s PlanB has been revived and
further developed.

For the last couple of years, the band has been touring South-East Asia, specifically
Cambodia and Vietnam. It has proven to be both a successful and enjoyable
experience, and more touring in the region is planned. China and Thailand both offer
opportunities to further expand PlanB’s horizons.

And it’s not just been about live performance. The band’s first single of 2010,
Southern Delta, was released via the band’s internet site. The catchy track opens with
a brass riff that wouldn’t be out of place on the first Dexys Midnight Runners’ LP,
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, and also features more soul-boy signature horn
playing throughout.

Call Me, the second single, is a much more laid back, soulful track. A plaintive cry
to an absent friend, borne out of the desperate isolation that accompanies lost love. It
has a beautiful flow, despite a rather frantic musical interlude which allows the horn
section to go a little bit mad for a few seconds.

“The longer live shows where the band plays three sets usually consist of approx 60%
originals, whereas if we are doing a set or two, the originals can form up to 90% plus
of the band’s presentation.”

Monten has his own, similar, view.

“In our longer shows where we bring in some soul classics covers like Knock
on Wood, Land of 1000 Dances and In the Midnight Hour, the feel is definitely
maintained going from cover to original. The original feel is certainly maintained with
the songs that were performed by the band in the 80’s. They stood up so well when
we listened to them that there was no need to try and change the sound. The songs that
have emerged since the band reformed are definitely more pop, though that wasn’t
intentional; it’s just what came out of the rehearsals and recordings.”

As far as the new CD goes, I ask Flierl about the split between originals and covers.

“The album has a working title of Too Late the Hero and contains only one cover,
the Dexys’ song Plan B which was penned by Kevin Rowland & the band’s trombone
player, Big Jim Paterson. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim on a recent trip to the
UK and the band is absolutely stoked to confirm that he has agreed to provide the
trombone solo for Plan B.”

And there’s two more singles – Falling in Love has just been released and is gaining
airplay on local Adelaide stations, and So Saigon will follow in early 2012.

The band hopes to complete its debut album in time for a mid-2012 release, and plans
to support the release with more extensive touring. And, says Monten, there’s more…

“We’re also working on a mashup of Call Me with Adelaide hip hop act, Rock with
Korshun. They heard the song and wrapped their own lyrics around it. I’ve got to
say, it’s sensational. We’re having it mastered at the moment and are considering
including it on the album and maybe even giving it to our Facebook fans for free, as a
special thank-you for their support.”

I sounds to me like Flierl and Monten are confident that their songwriting efforts will
only help to make PlanB a stronger prospect for wider acceptance, while retaining the
elements of classic soul that have served the band well. It can be a difficult balancing
act but, on the strength of the originals released thus far, it appears that the future is
looking rosy.

Check out all of PlanB’s music, and more, at http://www.planbaustralia.com/ or, if you
prefer, http://www.facebook.com/planb.au.

David Robinson
Copyright © David Robinson, 2011
david@bleakumbrella.com

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Dec 2
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