It was your average Wednesday morning in Melbourne aside from the fact I was on the phone with Landon Tewers of The Plot In You. The Ohio band’s frontman shared that he was having a ‘super lazy’ day after spending 14 hours recording a music video with the band the day before. The video was for “I ALWAYS WANTED TO LEAVE”, the fourth track on their upcoming album DISPOSE (releasing on 16th February via Fearless Records). In that warm and unmistakable voice, Landon shared that they would also be recording another music video the following day. This time for “DISPOSABLE FIX”, the last track of the album.
I confessed to Landon that I was relatively new to the band, having discovered them via the second single of Dispose, “NOT JUST BREATHING”. Given that so many of my friends and acquaintances in the heavy music scene were all over this particular track, I wanted to know from Landon as to what he felt made this resonate so strongly with everyone.
“I think one of the things in the past which held us back from being relatable to anyone was the face that most of our music was about drugs and violence and sex and stuff like that. This was the first record that was more relationship trouble oriented and that’s pretty much something that anybody can relate to. Everyone’s had relationship issues, whether male-female, or a friendship or anything like that. All around the board. Just showcasing different kinds of feelings toward a toxic relationship. It’s something that most people have been through.”
With the two singles of “NOT JUST BREATHING” and “FEEL NOTHING” combined, they seemed to set a scene of a relationship going badly to the point of feeling like you’re talking to a brick wall and needing to eradicate the other. I asked Landon if this was the essence of DISPOSE as an album.
“Yeah, absolutely. It pretty much covers everything: It covers when it wasn’t as bad, and then getting more into whenever it was at its worst. It documents all the phases of the relationship, eventually resulting in the relationship decaying.”
With quieter and more vulnerable moments on DISPOSE alongside furious aggression, you can certainly feel varying points along the way, where things seemed more hopeful than hopeless, before hitting a point of defeat. Landon confirmed that DISPOSE is about one relationship, aside from the opening track “RIGGED”, which relates to the band and their relationship with past labels and their experience in the music industry in general.
As a title and word, to Landon ‘dispose’ is about cutting ties in general with anything that’s not benefiting you or helping you grow; “Anything that’s stunting you in your life. That’s pretty much the general theme of the whole record.”
‘I guess I never realised I had a lot to talk about until I got into music.‘
From hearing “NOT JUST BREATHING” and falling for this band and wanting to know more about them, I was taken down a rabbit hole of the insatiable creativity of Landon Tewers. I discovered what seemed like an endless stream of music across different sounds and flavours. I knew that with this opportunity to interview him, I wanted to pick his brain about creativity. I referred to him as a ‘massive ball of creative energy’, and asked him when it was that he began this path.
“It was pretty early on. I was 15 or 16 when I started getting into music. I guess I never realised I had a lot to talk about until I got into music. It opened a gateway for me to vent about a lot of things and was a way to let a lot of things go; to put them out into the open and see a lot of people are very similar to me and my ways of thinking. It’s been an addiction for a long time. It’s like the one place I feel safe saying risky things I have in my brain without getting scrutinised. [laughs]”
With stumbling upon tracks like “I Hope You Have A Shitty Christmas”, “Don’t You” as well as pretty direct/vicious lyrics on DISPOSE and seeing such (seemingly) unfiltered creative expression from Landon, I wondered whether there was a point where he censored himself or whether he just went for it.
“In the past I used to have reservations for certain things. There was even times on previous records where I was almost terrified about speaking about certain things. I don’t know, I’m older now and I’m pretty calloused to it. I don’t really think twice about it anymore. I just kind of lay it all out and whatever happens happens, I guess. [laughs]”
‘I couldn’t just put out a Plot blues record.’
In my travels I’d also come across Landon’s AI640 project and wondered what it was that drew his creative attention toward The Plot In You most focusedly, given that it seemed that he could be doing anything at all, creatively speaking.
“On the side I do a lot of solo stuff. That’s kind of the area where I get to really experiment with any type of sound I want. I’ve done a lot of stuff with blues, even rap, acoustic stuff, super experimental stuff. Where with The Plot, it’s not like there’s any boundaries or borders, but it needs to at least somewhat stay in the same vein. Like I couldn’t just put out a Plot blues record. I guess Plot is like an ever-growing sound that is its own distinct thing, where my solo stuff is where I can experiment with anything, even if it doesn’t go well. It’s like a playground to me. I get out different emotions and I’m able to vent in different ways in the different projects. Yeah, it’s fun!”
On that topic, I wondered out loud: “What is that like; to put out such experimental and varying stuff and still have fans appreciate it, like ‘We love what you’ve tried out here’.. What must that be like to keep having that appreciation?”
“It’s very rewarding for sure. Especially with the solo stuff. I REALLY really experiment. I’ll do some of the weirdest stuff ever. It’s not like there’s a label to piss off or whatever. My solo stuff is all just under my name and everything, I don’t go through a label. Even if I write something kind of shitty it’s not going to affect anyone else’s life but my own. It’s fun.”
When it comes to DISPOSE, the feel of experimentation is most apparent to me in the first and last tracks of the album (“RIGGED” and “DISPOSABLE FIX”). I asked Landon about bringing experimentation into The Plot In You and his plans with that.
“The first and the last two I went hard with experimentation and those ended up being my favourite songs by far. I think in the future we’re definitely going to go more of that route; The more abstract, experimental, unpredictable sound, I guess. They were by far the most fun to write and I feel like they’re pretty much anyone I show’s favourite songs. So yeah, I’m definitely excited to mess around with those sounds in the future. I think we could come up with some pretty cool stuff.”
In absorbing DISPOSE, I found “DISPOSABLE FIX” to be the most unpredictable track and most complex to review, so asked Landon about this track in particular as to what drove its creation.
“I was actually writing that song for another artist, about a year and a half and ago. He was in the studio, just a solo artist guy. So I sat down and started writing that song. And about half way through I said ‘Hey man, I’m really sorry but I’m going to have to keep this for myself.’ [laughs] ‘I really like this a lot.’ And I kind of had to manipulate him into thinking it wouldn’t work for him [laughs] so I could keep it. I kept that song, and literally 20-30 minutes later I started writing another one and that song ended up being “RIGGED”, and I stole that one from him too. So two of my favourite songs on The Plot record were supposed to be for another artist, but I ended up keeping them for myself. I wrote a third song that day and I let him keep that one. So we’re square now. [laughs]”
I moved onto the topic of the messages of the songs themselves, considering the weighty title/lyric of “I ALWAYS WANTED TO LEAVE” and the severity of “FEEL NOTHING” lyrics, that are clearly an emotional blow toward another. I asked Landon if it was therapeutic for him to get that out.
“Yeah it is. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m a little bit sick in the head, but it’s just nice to be able to say those feelings out loud. A lot of emotions a lot of people feel, but don’t really want to vocalise. I did my best to not make it to where it’d be slander or anything like that. Try to take a more artistic approach to it. But yeah I was feeling a lot of resentment for awhile and everything, so it was nice to be able to vent and talk about a lot of those specific subjects, you know?”
I acknowledged the importance of there being voices in music that can speak for people who aren’t sure how to express the words, and that it’s an important role for people such as Landon to take in doing so. “I appreciate that,” he said. “I hope so.”
In terms of specific songs and the sounds used in them, Landon shared that they wanted a lot of real sounds to be included, beyond samples of instruments. A friend of guitarist Josh Childress plays saxophone on “THE SOUND” and strings are used on tracks including “ONE LAST TIME”. “There’s a lot of real strings. That was something important to us on this record. We’ve had production on previous records, but it was all fake computer instruments. We wanted a really good real element to the record to make it feel more alive, you know?”
With DISPOSE being very different to the band’s Happiness in Self Destruction album, I was curious whether they felt any pressure to appease fans of that grittier and darker sound.
“That was actually something I was talking about to a friend the other day. I think I get almost more satisfaction out of pissing people off than appeasing people for some sick reason. I don’t know why. But anytime I see comments from people bashing the new stuff, like saying that we suck now and our new stuff sucks, I don’t know, something about that makes me happy for some reason. [laughs] Maybe some sick mental disorder or something. I don’t know, I like that for some reason.”
“Well, because you’re not doing it for them..”
“Yeah. Exactly. I’ve never written to appease anyone else. If a record doesn’t click with anyone, I’m still happy with it and that’s all I need.”
The Plot In You will be heading to Australia in April, touring alongside Polaris, Alpha Wolf and Ambleside on Polaris’ ‘The Mortal Coil’ tour. I asked Landon if he’d had a chance to check out the music of these bands yet.
“Yeah, I’ve gotten to check out Polaris. The other ones I haven’t yet. Polaris sounds awesome. They’re kind of like a different kind of Architects-y.. kind of like a rock-y Architects type of thing. Which is cool. I like that a lot. I’ve listened to a bunch of their singles. They’re really cool and I’m excited to see them live. But yeah, the other ones I haven’t yet and I definitely need to.”
“Yeah, they’re very good. It’s an awesome line-up and I can’t wait to see it.”
In feeling like we’d covered everything, I farewelled Landon, with him sharing with me that one of the new music videos should be out in “a week or so”.
I lastly thanked him for making ‘real music’.
“I’m trying my best. Thank you so much.”
You can pre-order DISPOSE here: http://found.ee/disposebundles