Joel Plaskett Interview (2010)
BNLUK.net had the pleasure of catching up with Joel Plaskett in Birmingham at the start of his 2010 UK tour supporting BNL. Enjoy!
Liam: OK, so we’re here at the Birmingham Academy, I’m with Joel Plaskett and it’s the 10th September, the second day of the Barenaked Ladies UK tour. It’s nice to be with you Joel.
Joel: Nice to be here.
Liam: How was last night in Bristol, the first show of the tour, how did that go?
Joel: It was great, it was fun. We had a really great tour with them earlier in the year in Canada, it’s nice to be back playing with them again. You know, their show is great and their audience is really fantastic too to play for. I find it an easy gig – and I mean that in the best kind of way in terms of feeling comfortable on stage, feeling like the songs are translating, people are pretty attentive – but it’s a new audience for me, so it’s perfect.
Liam: What can we expect on the tour in terms of songs – I think you have a half hour set…?
Joel: Yeah, I mean, you know, that’s the thing, with the 30 minute set I can only play about 7 tunes if I talk at all. I could probably fit 8 in there if I keep it rolling quick, but I sometimes air on the side of a little less and then it gives me the chance to set the songs up and not feel like I’m pressured. So I’ll probably vary it a little bit over the tour, there’s certainly some songs that, with a new audience, you end up playing a lot of the same material every night – I know that’s maybe a bad way to look at it, but it’s also knowing which songs connect with an audience and trying to win – to a certain extent – win over an audience, you kinda have to come out with your crowd pleasers and so I’ve sorta picked 7 or 8 of the strongest tunes as far as immediate reaction from people goes.
Liam: Last night I felt that “Through and Through and Through” went down very well – I think that was a single wasn’t it?
Joel: Yeah that was one of the singles.
Liam: Perhaps an obvious choice, but, another one… “Rewind”, with the postage stamp sized keys – that was great as well.
Joel: Yeah that one’s fun. That one… I always find it – because of the little keyboard, it’s kinda fun to play and it sorta loosens the audience up a bit too at that point if they’re scratching their head going “what’s this guy all about?”, then by that point, you know, it’s like “oh alright” – it gives a bit of a home-made entry point to the show.
Liam: Particularly to a Barenaked Ladies audience who love variety…
Joel: That’s it. And the thing that I love about the Barenaked Ladies audience and them as a band as well is they have a sense of humour and they like variety and also a bit of playfulness, which I sometimes feel is something that’s lost in a lot of music these days, where everything’s supposed to be locked down and presented the same every night. I kinda like it if you can see – if something puts a smile on your face and also feels a little bit unconventional.
Liam: It feels more natural that way.
Joel: I think so. For me, I like feeling that I can be myself onstage – and still take some pride in it, and put on a show, and try and create a real feeling surrounding the music and the set, but also not take it so seriously that… I don’t know… to me that would get tiresome… having to put on that kinda face every night… if I’m gonna present it totally kinda serious or woe-is-me… I like being able to have some fun playing.
Liam: Now you did some shows with Jools Holland earlier this year, how did they go?
Joel: They were amazing. I mean they were big outdoor shows to, you know, between 3 and 6 thousand people, so you’re faced with a lot of people out there just picnicking and having dinner on a blanket, you know. But the reception was great… I sold a bunch of records, and people came up to me after the show and it was a really easy gig to do just because it was of a kind of casual nature. It was a very English event – we have festivals back home but we don’t have that kind of ‘show up with blankets and picnic tables and set up shop with your bottles of wines and Pimms’, you know. The liquor laws are too restricted in Canada for it to be an all ages event – if there’s gonna be alcohol there, it’s gonna be in a very designated area, it’s gonna be sequestered from anybody too young to have it. Whereas in England, it seems it’s like “look, we already know people start drinking at 14, lets not worry about it!” *laughs*
Liam: So perhaps that’s an incentive to come back – do you have any more shows in the UK lined up?
Joel: I’m coming back after this Barenaked Ladies tour that’s taking me through this September… in November I’m gonna come back and do probably about 5 or 6 shows in Ireland and one show in London – I’m gonna play at the Luminaire in London. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a show where I’m going to bring my Father. He’s going to accompany me, just to shift it up a bit. Dad and I have been doing a bunch of shows together back in Canada over the past few years, he came out on tour behind “Three” when it first came out, because he plays a lot on the latest record. So I’m going to bring him to England – he’s from England…
Joel: He grew up in Dagenham in East End London, Essex. So yeah, he’s gonna come on that tour. Then I suspect next year I’ll get back and I’ll bring the band, I’m gonna bring The Emergency over. I’ve just been trying to develop an audience based on the songs in a fairly stripped down approach right now, which works well with the new record, and also I feel like if people like the songs I write then they’ll show up and if there’s a bigger presentation in a year then that’ll just make it seem like it’s going somewhere – as opposed to showing up with a band and never being able to afford to bring them back. I feel like I wanna have an audience before I drag, you know, 4 people across the pond.
Liam: And then next time maybe an orchestra *laughs*
Joel: Yeah, well at that point, maybe there’ll be a way to actually, you know, have the tour pay for itself *laughs*
Liam: I think that’s about it, that’s all my questions, so thanks for spending the time with me.
Joel: That’s great. Thank you very much.
Thanks very much to Joel Plaskett, Vanessa Cotton and Stephen Smith for making the interview possible.