INTERVIEW WITH MR. PLOW
by Emily Kendy

Mr. Plow was nearly arrested after pulling into a McDonalds on the road and asking the girl behind the counter to talk to him. ďThey almost called the cops on me they thought I was weird,Ē he says, popping a piece of sushi in his mouth during lunch on Main Street, in Vancouver. ďAll I wanted her to do was to ask me how my day was, after driving for ten hours and not talking to anybody.Ē

So is the lonely downfall of an in demand acoustic singer/songwriter touring the countryside with only a guitar and his inner thoughts to keep him company. Not that heís complaining. After playing in eight bands over the course of 12 years this is the one gig thatís gotten him enough success to avoid a day job and produce his third full-length album, Mad Plow Disease. The album, another signature brand of potty rock is giggle-fit inducing and included with the acoustic-Plow fans know and love there is a slew of band back up for many of the tracks. Reading the liner notes alone is a lesson in North American west coast underground, including Norwood Fisher, bass player for Fishbone, and Rocky George (ex Suicidal Tendencies, now also a member of fishbone) as well members from The Doers, death metal drummer Gene Hoagland and Asa Hooker from The Catholic School Girls. Over lunch he discusses the details of being an enigma, which includes regrettable songs, manly backup dancers and a 1972 Pacer.

How did the creative spark for Mr. Plow develop?

Plow: I used to play in this band called the Hairy Areolas and we were this crazy punk band and played fast songs so no one was really hearing the lyrics and I thought the lyrics were the main point behind the band so I did this Mr. Plow thing so people could hear the lyrics. Thatís where the whole thing came from. Iíve been doing this ever since and now Iím sitting here eating sushi.

You have a lot of really obscure musical influences (Richard Cheese, Mojo Nixon) how have you honed this taste in music?

Plow: For that I think I gotta thank my mom. She didnít ever really get mad at me about what I was listening to growing up and she always opened doors to new music. Then I took a music composition class in high school and the teacher was some crazy hippie who would make us sit in the music room where there was no windows and then turn the lights out so it was pitch black and it was first class in the morning so it was like 8:30 a.m. and heíd put on Frank Zappa. For a bunch of 16-year-old kids. Listening to the Hot Rats CD. It opened my brain up to all these different things and it was just insane.

How do you keep yourself awake on the road?

Plow: I listen to standup comedy just to hear another voice more or less. Bill Hicks is a genius. My buddies from Tacoma, who do the acoustic thing like I do, called Who Cares. And buddies of mine from Phoenix called The Meat Department kinda like Tenacious D. They sing about little punk-rock kids shop at Hot Topic.

So what do you say to people who are about to see you for the first time?

Plow: You gotta have an open mind because if you donít have a sense of humor or open mind youíre going to hate me beyond belief. Iíve played in front of rooms where people have no idea what to make of it they look like deer caught in the headlights.

Is that due to playing a wrong venue?

Plow: Yeah. I played this little bar in whatís known as Little Tokyo, in Los Angeles and they were all just dumbfounded and I thought it was more of a clean set. There was the hesitant clapping at the end of the songs. I get people coming up to me in private after a show whispering how much they enjoyed it, so that their friends donít find out.

Howís the song writing process for you? Does it just pop into your head during the shower or the middle of the night or do you work at it?

Plow: It comes in many different ways. Some of the songs are inside jokes. My songwriting ability is almost like menopause; itís like a crazy hot flash. Iíll write four songs in the span of three hours and then I wonít write a song for seven months. Then Iíll have another hot flash. This one song off the new CD I wrote it in my head while driving to Phoenix. Itís called Are You Really A Guy.

The line ďIs that a dildo in your pocket or are you really a guy?Ē is pretty classic. Was the song autobiographical?

Plow: No, thank-god! Iíve never been set up on a blind date. The song just came to me and then the next thing I know I had to pull over at a rest stop just so I could write down the lyrics.

Thereís a bunch of backup singers on that song, where did they come from?

Plow: Theyíre all guys! Thereís not one girl n that track even though they sound like girls. Denton from The Joint Chiefs, heís the one who does the real high-pitched voice. Then a couple buddies of mine from Oregon and I even believe Shawn M from The Doers and Joel from Black Rice is one too.

Thatís awesome.

Plow: As disturbing as it is, I mean they sound like Edith Bunker from All In The Family, with that high whine going on. It worked out really well; it was one of the hardest parts to get done because I was just killing myself laughing.

You won last yearís readers choice awards in The Georgia Straight, Vancouverís crusty business oriented newspaper. Did that just blow your mind?

Plow: I thought it was the biggest joke in the world. I was driving over a bridge when I received this phone call and I almost crashed my van more due to laughing hysterically than anything else. I donít know. I got my little certificate/diploma stating that I was the best local male musician and Bif Naked won best female. The best joke going around for a week after that was that we were going to do a duet. I donít understand how that happened.

People secretly like you

Plow: yeah, itís a hush-hush like.

Any regrets about certain songs?

Plow: Thereís one track, Iím not going to give the name out just because the song still haunts me to this day but a select people know about this song that um, still request this one song. I try desperately not to play itÖ

What song? You wonít tell me?

Plow: No, itís just wrong. I go with the understanding that if people request a song at a show you have to play it, thatís why Iím not giving the name of it but this is the only song thatís gotten me kicked off the stage at a show.

Is it on your first album?

Plow: No.

Is it on your second album?

Plow: No. Itís on a demo from about five years ago and I regret that song but people keep bringing it up, thereís nothing I can do.

If your music was a vehicle what kind of vehicle would it be?

Plow: A 1972 neon-green Pacer with sheepskin seat covers, kick ass flames, no hood and a muffler thatís dragging ten feet behind, as I try to drive.


 

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