Planes Mistaken For Stars
Daniel L. Mitchell
Simply put, Planes Mistaken for Stars is a destructive band. Their albums are ridiculously loud, chaotic, steamrolling slabs of screamy, overdriven power. Their live show is a spectacle of flying hair, sweat, and emotion. With an over abundance of beautiful, well groomed cutesy “emo” bands garnering all of the attention of “the kids,” PMFS are a breath of fresh air for those tired of the glossy sheen.
The band is currently working on the follow up to their critically acclaimed classic Fuck With Fire, Get Burned, which will be released on No Idea in the near future. Main vocalist and guitarist Gared O’Donnell took time from recording to play “e-mail interview” with me…
How did fans of The Ataris react to you guys on your last tour with them?
The Ataris crowd was really a mixed bag; we were received in part with a lot of apathy, a little disdain, and a whole lotta “deer caught in the headlights” stares; but all in all, I believe at the end of each night we had turned at least a handful of kids to the dark side.
Your live show is absolutely incredible, in terms of energy and power, and you guys obviously care about giving the audience their money’s worth; what does it mean to you to “play a show?”
To play a show for us is what I might imagine church may feel like to a truly devout soul, or what a bottle of Nighttrain feels like to a truly parched rummy. It is us stripping ourselves down and out to nth degree!
Does the band have any unique games or habits that you partake in while on tour?
That, my friend, is a can of worms that is best left unopened.
How do you guys work out how much money everybody in the band gets for food while on tour; also, where do you guys usually stop to get food?
Money is split evenly between us four and when we can, we toss as much as possible to whatever road buddy is hungriest. We try to get to the market as much as we can, but keeping food on you on tour is next to impossible; so, more often than not, me and Mikey end up at dive bar and grills, and Chuck and Matt end up at whatever veggie or art food place they can find.
What was the single funniest or scariest thing that happened during your last tour this fall?
I think by and large everyday one of us did something which warranted mighty chuckles amongst ourselves; but, I guess the amount of autographs we signed at the Ataris shows was rather strange.
You guys will be touring during February and March; where and who with? Also, will you be playing stuff from the new record?
We will be touring with the mighty Cursive, the amazing AGAINST ME!, and the kind souls in the Ataris once again. We will be road testing a ton of new shit; I guess we will see what sticks.
What kind of jobs do the guys in the band have, when not on tour?
Mikey stocks books, Matt makes pizza, Chuck looks for work, and I sit on my ass, play with my son, and read comic books. It’s cheaper for me to hang out with my boy than for me to get a shitty job and send him to daycare. Plus, I get to be the one he learns social skills from! I’m sure he will turn out great.
What can fans expect from the new record? Does it have a working title?
The record more likely than not will be titled Up in Them Guts. I really hope it connects with the kids who really care. We have been lucky thus far in that nothing we have released yet has caused any backlash. I do believe that this record is heavier than previous efforts, but in ways you might not expect.
It seems that many aggressive post punk bands seem to get softer as they grow older, yet Planes Mistaken For Stars has gotten dirtier, louder, and more chaotic; what do you think this is all about?
We keep getting more and more pissed at the aging process and at what little time we have left.
The bass tone on your albums (and live) is warm, thick, and greatly overdriven, and sounds similar to the tone used by the original Misfits (not the cheesy 1990s Misfits); is this an accident, and will the tone be different, now that you guys have a new bassist?
Yes, the original plan was to have Fuck With Fire… sound as much like Earth A.D. (Misftis classic) as possible, so the bass followed suit. The bass on the new album is a lot more low-end, and fills in a lot that I feel was missing on older recordings. Sadly the old [amp] head was on the fritz during recording, because I would have loved to incorporate it more.
Your sound is fairly akin to early ’90s bands such as Shotmaker, Angel Hair, and Heroin; what bands would you consider to be your modern day contemporaries?
Thanks. Some of those bands were and are very special. We feel kinship with bands that more often than not stand alone and seem like an island among themselves, like Cursive, City of Caterpillar (R.I.P.), Hot Water Music, Milemarker, Strike Anywhere, Good Charlotte, etc… you get the picture!
Were you guys thinking of going with a different label (than No Idea) for the new album? I know that it will be on No Idea, but what was up?
We have always been stoked on the relationship we have with No Idea and really have never planned on leaving. We also feel it is important to field offers. I feel like if you do not keep your ear to the ground and pay attention to what is happening around you, that it is easy to lose focus and fall into a stagnant situation. After looking around, we felt refreshed knowing just how good of hands we are in staying with No Idea.
I consider Fuck With Fire… to be a classic of the caliber of Drive Like Jehu’s Yank Crime, Radiohead’s OK Computer, The Cure’s Disintegration, and so on; when you guys were finished making it, did you realize how truly great it was?
We thank you kindly; that is some pretty good company to be in. Recording is always special, and I am always proud of whatever we come out with. I do feel Fuck With Fire… is a good record, but I tend to hear things differently than you may. For example, I torture myself still over vocal parts I recorded over five years ago. It is hard to be objective about something as personal as recording. You will always stress on how you should have made it better.
What do you think of bands currently cashing in on the “screamo” revolution (i.e. Thrice, My Chemical Romance); aren’t they essentially playing tame, safe, watered down, and less creative versions of what you guys are doing?
You can’t trick me! You want me to talk shit, and believe me there is plenty to talk, but I think I’ll pass right now. I will say, though that it would be nice to see ourselves and our peers treated with a little more respect, and given a little more than a half-assed nod. Anymore it is all about what hoops you are willing to jump through! I would love to see the playing field evened. Then, let the fun begin.
Let’s say the early 1990s mainstream punk explosion happens again, but this time Thursday are the new darlings (i.e. Nirvana); if a major offered you guys $3,000,000 and a five record deal, but you have to tame things a bit, would you take the cash and make watered down music? $3,000,000 is enough to invest and live fairly well, simply off of the interest, mind you…
I would do just enough to get my foot in the door, then shit on the bosses’ desks! No, but really, that’s a shit load of money. Maybe we should just sell our first record to the big boys.
I’ve heard it said that it’s better that young teenagers listen to bands like Simple Plan and Sum 41, instead of Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake; any thoughts?
I am not good at playing the devil’s advocate. Sorry!
If the band decided to cover one of their all time favorite albums, in its entirety, live, what would it be?
I can’t speak for all four of us, but I would say Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy, or maybe Damaged by Black Flag, or Sabotage by Black Sabbath; those are LPs we tend to agree on.