Fresh from the release of their new single ‘Not As Cool’, Dublin indie-punk three-piece Plastic Cowboys evolved from a solo act into a vibrant, heady live set-up, with the new single at its core.
Facing something of an uphill battle in Dublin’s niche punk scene, they lean on that live show, whilst exploring relationships and hangovers in their punchy tracks, with an album somewhere on the horizon.
I caught up with all three, Ciaran (vocals and guitar), Darren (bass) and Joe (drums) during the shutdown…
Congrats on the new live video for ‘Not As Cool’. I guess you’re missing playing live?
Darren: Thanks very much, we recorded it a while back so it feel’s great to have it out. Definitely playing live with the guys is my favourite thing to do, and I especially miss playing ‘Not As Cool’ to a live crowd, as that is when the show gets a little bit chaotic.
Can you tell me a little bit about what your live show is typically like in a non-studio setting?
Joe: Our live shows definitely follow through with the energy we create together. A tight sound with high energy coinciding with Ciaran’s songwriting is key to our bands live show. It’s something we tried to recreate in the studio setting as best we can, ‘Not As Cool’ being our latest example of that.
How much material do you have now, and what are the themes behind your music?
Ciaran: We’ve got a batch of about 18 songs at the moment ready to be recorded, and some new ones that I’ve written during the lockdown that I’m itching to play with the lads. Some of these songs go back years from when I first wrote them. For example, I wrote ‘Not as Cool’ around the summer of 2016, so it’s great to be in a position to finally release it.
I tend to write about my experiences in one way or another so the recurring themes throughout our music would probably be relationships, and being hung-over.
Can you tell me a little of the back story behind Plastic Cowboys?
Darren: Plastic Cowboys started around April 2019, when Ciaran and I met through a mutual friend Susan McKeown. I had just started working at Wavefarm Productions around the time we met so when I heard Ciaran’s demos I asked if he would be interested in coming to Wavefarm and recording them with me and Kevin Brennan who runs the studio.
The sessions started as Ciaran as a solo artist but after a few sessions, he decided he would rather do these songs as a band and that’s when I came on board to play bass. It was an easy decision to make since we always had good chemistry in the studio so it all felt very natural.
I had known Joe for about 5 years having gone to college together so when we needed a drummer he was the obvious first choice. He’s a versatile drummer and we had played in bands together before, so we were used to how the other operates. Once we all got into a room together there was an instant connection, and the sound we made together brought a whole new energy and life to the songs.
Do you come from musical backgrounds?
Darren: Yes, I have always been interested in music, I have a lot of family members who are musicians so I’ll always remember being fascinated by them when I was younger. Getting involved in music just seemed like a natural step for me.
Joe: Music is something that has been huge on one side of my family, something I’ve grown up with and studied in college. Drums were always a favourite of mine but I also enjoy playing guitar and bass.
Ciaran: I didn’t have a taste in music until I was about twelve years old. I was completely oblivious to it. One day I spontaneously decided I wanted to learn guitar and this world of music and bands opened up to me. I quickly became obsessed with it.
How do you find the Dublin punk scene? Aside from a couple of bands it seems to operate a little under the radar…
Ciaran: Yeah, in a lot of ways it’s definitely under the radar, and I think it’s going through a transitional stage at the moment. These day’s genres aren’t as restricted so you see a lot of bands and solo artists playing with that which I think is great.
There seems to be a connection between the spoken word and poetry scene, with punk in Dublin right now. I think punk is getting a face-lift with much more of a regard to the lyrics. Just Mustard, The Murder Capital, and Fontaines D.C. are great examples of that.
What’s been your favourite moment as a band so far?
Joe: Playing Whelan’s Ones To Watch was great!
Ciaran: Whelan’s Ones To Watch was great! Releasing our first single was a highlight for me too.
Darren: My favourite moment so far as a band was playing Whelan’s Ones To Watch. It was one of those gigs where everything felt right and it’s been one of my favourite crowds so far.
How are you making use of lockdown?
Ciaran: I’ve been writing a lot of new music and recording demos to send to the lads. I’ve also been binge-watching a lot of television. It’s been a mixture of complete motivation and deep procrastination… so there hasn’t been any major changes only that the pub has been swapped out for the television.
Joe: Trying to keep a routine down, learning new songs and keeping my playing sharp as best I can.
Darren: The lockdown is not ideal for any of us but it has helped us to come up with some new ideas and we can still send each other demos to work on remotely which helps keep us creative.
What are your hopes for the future?
In terms of live shows, it’s hard to tell with everything that’s going on, but as soon as we can we’re gonna jump back into it. We want to get back into the studio, as we plan to release a few more singles, and a record to follow it.