From listening to Plain Sails’ powerful sound you would never guess this London based four-piece band only formed in 2017. With intriguing and personal lyrics, piercing melodies and an emotive and energetic resonance that is the result of a wide range of eclectic influences, this band is an asset and exciting addition to the live music scene. Plain Sails is comprised of Andrew Chappell (Vox, guitar), Leigh Greenhough (lead guitar), Andy Tanaka (bass) and Jack Bullock (drums). Recently the band have released three singles, played to large crowds in venues such as The Dome (Tufnell Park, London) and the O2 academy (Islington, London) and supported a touring band from Germany. Their upwards trajectory continues into 2019 with a confirmed support slot with Toploader at the O2 Academy Islington early in the new year – but it kicked off first at our very own Camden Assembly Benumu ‘Spotlight – Ones to watch in 2019’…
So guys we really hope you enjoyed that!
(Jack) Yeah, it was a good one. First gig of the year, wasn’t it? It was a good one to start with at Camden Assembly and everything.
And you’ve played here before haven’t you?
(Jack) Yeah, a couple times actually. (Andy C) We did our first gig here about a year and a couple months ago. We’ve done it a few times, it’s like a bit of a homecoming for us. But it was great man, really enjoyed it.
Cool! Right, first proper question – can you remember the first song you heard growing up?
(Leigh) Shite… (Andy C) – laughs – Who’s that by?(Leigh) I think he first record I bought – god, I’ll be showing up my age now – was probably ‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson. (Andy C) Yeah, first thing I heard was probably something by the Beatles, because my parents were big Beatles fans – are big Beatles fans. (Andy T) I think probably something from Bon Jovi (Jack) probably The Specials ‘Ghost Town’ is one I heard a lot, my dad was into that so I guess that one stuck with me. (Leigh) Nice, good choice.
You said you’ve heard these bands as you grew up, but do you come from musical families?
(Andy C) Well, my dad plays guitar so I guess that’s where the initial exposure came from, but not necessarily musical. (Leigh) No, no – only me. (Andy T) Just me also. (Jack) Me too. I guess just from a young age I was banging on pots and pans apparently.
And was it a natural transition going from being a single artist to becoming a band? What was the process?
(Leigh) I can’t sing so I’ve got to be a sideman wherever I am – laughs – (Andy C) – patting his arm – You’re my sideman now. Nah, I’ve been in a few bands now, bands in school and in college. Then when I moved to London I was in a couple of bands and then we kind of found each other… – Leigh jokingly pats his arm back – (Jack) Leigh, found him as well. He found everyone! (Andy C) Leigh’s done most of the work to be fair. But being a writer I always wanted to, you know, be in a proper band. Bands have always made me excited, whether it’s front man, guitarist or drummer, whatever it is I just wanted to be in a band. Then it’s about finding the right chemistry both musically and personally… (Leigh) We’ve still not found it have we (Andy C) Yeah, still a bit of a struggle – laughs – But yeah, there’s quite a lot of factors you’ve got to get right. It’s harder than it sounds, you know.
And who came up with ‘Plain Sails’?
Leigh points at Andy C – (Andy C) Was it me? Oh, it was Google
Is there any particular meaning behind it or did you just like it for what it was?
(Andy C) No meaning behind it whatsoever (Leigh) I mean how many names? Literally thousands of names (Andy C) We were called ‘Ceasefires’ a few years ago, and there’s a band in America called the same thing so we thought ‘If we ever get massive then we need to change it now because nobody knows who we are now!’ and we just random word generated for about three weeks – laughs – and then ‘Plain-sailing’ came out and we just chopped the end off… nice and deep!
Obviously Camden is an amazing hub for live music, but would you say that live music is getting stronger generally?
(Andy C) I think it is (Leigh) Ooh… (Andy C) Ooh.. bit of confrontation. (Leigh) No, go on, go on. (Andy C) It’s getting stronger in the sense that – (Jack) Camden Rocks is like two days now (Andy C) Yeah, I think there’s a lot.. Do you wanna start Leigh… (Leigh) I don’t know, I think a lot of original bands struggle. I think it is a struggle. There’s a lot of venues shutting everywhere. Yeah, so I wouldn’t say it’s in a great place if you go back ten years to what it is now. But there’s still loads of great bands, so many great bands out there at the minute. You’ve still go the old top guys who are still headlining every festival, but there’s so much real talent coming through at the minute.
Do you feel like the amount of talent there is is actually making it harder for bands to push through?
(Leigh) Yeah, definitely. (Jack) Because everyone in the music industry, well anyone trying to get into the music industry, whether it’s female artists, male solo artists – everyone wants it now. It’s different for me because I’m 27 and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I was in my twenties but you’ve got young teenagers now who are wanting to be pop stars. It’s just huge now, everyone wants to do the same thing. It’s tough picking. (Andy C) In the sense of saturation it’s great because you’ve got so much choice, so many bands, but back to Leigh’s point, it is getting a lot harder. (Leigh) It’s hard to build a fan base. (Andy C) It’s because there are just so many bands. There used to be just one or two bands per area. Especially if you were outside of London, if you were really good you were the only one in the county almost.
I guess in my generation you’ve got people making songs from their bedroom.
(Andy C) You know what though, it’s a great thing. It’s a great thing because everyone gets an opportunity – which is how it should be. You shouldn’t be told what you like, and that’s what the labels and industries try to do, but at the same time it’s a lot harder for those who make the music and of course there is a lot less money. It’s a lot more difficult because there’s a lot of noise. For the consumer it probably is better in that sense. It depends what you’re after really.
On a lighter note – laughs – if you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
(Andy C) John Lennon. John Lennon or Noel Gallagher. (Andy T) Steve Vai (Leigh) Random. I’d have to go with Nile Rodgers man, he plays on like every successful track ever, so let’s just get Nile Rodgers in. (Andy C) Just so we can have a hit (Jack) I don’t know… that’s a tough one. I’ve said this before but I’d probably have a jam with the guys in Raw Blood, yeah, the Brighton boys.
And my final question – do you have any advice for young musicians just starting out?
(Leigh) Don’t do it! – big laughs – (Andy C) – whispers – Get a proper job! No, number one don’t give up. Ever. Ever ever ever. And learn to grow a thick skin because you’ll be told no a million times. We all have been individually and together. But now more than ever you can do it yourself, I mean you can create your own fan base. Don’t let anyone ever tell you you can’t do it.