Hailing from Columbus, OH, Alternative Pop trio Plaid Brixx have already been entertaining crowds in the Midwestern states for a handful of years. We recently caught up with them on their first national tour opening for We The Kings on their 10-year self-titled album anniversary tour.
Please introduce yourselves and give us a quick explanation of your involvement in the band
Jared Sawaya: I’m Jared, I play guitar & bass.
Chris Duggan: He’s also our engineer. Making sure we’re all primed and ready to go! I’m Chris, I’m the singer man.
Mark LeRose: My name is Mark, & I play the drums.
For those who’ve never heard your band, how would you describe your music?
Chris: Hmm…Alternative Pop
What would you compare it to?
Mark: That’s so difficult! I would say…
Chris: I think it reminds me of Taylor Swift meets Blink-182
Mark: We grew up listening to Blink-182, so deep down there is certainly that influence. But it’s still Pop!
Chris: The song writing style is kinda like a Blink-182 perspective, with like Taylor Swift’s production!
Definitely a unique description
Chris: Oh for sure!
So, Plaid Brixx is a unique name. Are you guys of Scottish heritage or something?
Chris: I’m Irish, and we love plaid there too! I grew up with plaid wallpaper in my room. I love plaid patterns, & all that you can do with it, all the infinite possibilities! We actually had our own plaid pattern commissioned for the band that we use in some places. I hope to some day have it registered in the Scottish Register of Tartans, which is another word for plaid. It’s the official registry, that’s how you know that your plaid design has made it!
Mark: We’re very serious about plaid
Chris: We do have it trademarked though…
Ever think of wearing kilts on stage?
Chris: Nah, that would be too much plaid. I do have a plaid tattoo though. And Brixx is the stylized form of brick wall. The area that Mark & I grew up in is brick, everything is brick! It was a heavy visual influence in my repertoire while growing up. Sturdy and strong!
So, you’re one of the supporting acts on WTK’s 10th anniversary self-titled tour. How did that come about? How the tour been so far?
Chris: We didn’t really know if it was actually going to happen until a month before.
Mark: Maybe less than that, confirmed.
Chris: We were freaking out about it. It’s magical! Yes, a dream come true!
What other artists have you been on tour with?
Chris: This is actually our first national tour! We’ve opened here and there for other artists like Smashmouth.
Mark: We actually got to open open up for Cute Is What We Aim For (another artist on the same tour) on their 10 year anniversary tour, but it was only for one date. It was awesome, probably one of favorite shows by far! And here were are a few months later opening for them (& We The Kings) on every show!
Jared: We also recently opened for Banners, a British Pop dude.
Mark: The first really big name we opened for was Smashmouth, and that was a pretty fun show!
Chris: That was before they were off the booze.
I think most individuals only know them for that one song…
Jared: Oh yeah! That Shrek band. Haha!
How has it been different doing a national tour compared to just regional shows?
Chris: You don’t get to go home at night. More people at your shows, & you get to develop relationships with the other bands on the tour.
Mark: It has been a ton of fun to hang out with the other bands. That’s probably one of my favorite parts of the tour.
Jared: There is more endurance that is required than just doing a one-off show or regional tour.
Chris: We don’t have roadies, so we take all of our gear into the hotel at night. We don’t like to leave it outside. So, we wake up, & for the first hour that we’re awake we’re moving gear into our van & packing it. Then we get to the venue, and we have to unload it a staging area, & then probably move it elsewhere when we’re putting it together. Then once we load it back up again, we probably get to our hotel at like 3am or 4am, and have to carry it up to our rooms again. This starts over again every morning.
So, loading & unloading your gear become more of a task than actually playing?
Mark: Absolutely! People think that being in a band is just hanging out, but you’re actually moving gear for most of the day.
Chris: That being said, it’s totally worth it! The only time it’s brutal is when you’ve got to play a show, drive 8 hours, and play another show. In those situations, you maybe get 3-4 hours of sleep. We are a grumpy bunch that morning!
Your self-titled EP has been out for almost a year now. What’s been the overall reaction to this EP?
Chris: We were scared at first that people would be mad because it has no guitar, but we haven’t really heard that.
Mark: Generally people are loving the transition into a heavier Pop kinda sound, with more synths & better production.
Jared: It’s been a transition for us, because it has transformed our live performance. It’s upped the level overall really. The overall response has been super positive.
What is the major influence on this EP?
Chris: All of our musical taste have changed in that time. I almost don’t listen to Rock anymore, it’s mostly all Hip-Hop and Pop.
Mark: At this point, I would say all of our music tastes are pretty wide. It’s less about being in high school and forming a band to be like Blink-182. Now it’s about being an awesome band that makes the best songs possible. It’s more about that, and less about trying to emulate a specific sound. It’s always difficult for us to compare ourselves to other artists, or block ourselves into a genre.
Would you say that’s one of the reasons why “Greener Side” was the first single off your EP? To show the progression & maturity in the band’s sound?
Chris: Yeah. We thought it was the best way to demonstrate in a concise way the new sound we were going for. If we released “Away We Go” first, people would have thought we were going for a Depeche Mode sound, and some Nine Inch Nails influence.
Ohio seems to be becoming a more and more of a hotbed for music acts. What’s that been like and what’s your favorite part about the scene there?
Chris: First thing: Everyone is always asking if we know Twenty One Pilots. Yes, we know Twenty One Pilots. We are extremely informed about them.
Mark: It’s cool, because now people have their eyes on the Columbus scene, seeing what’s come out of there. I think it’s a good place to be.
Jared: In that time, I think the music scene has matured a lot. There is a lot more avenues to see music and for artist to break out. It’s certainly has raised the bar.
Besides making music, what are some of things that keeps the Plaid Brixx crew occupied?
Mark: I like to make art. I do art for the band too, so that keeps me busy most of the time.
Jared: I like photography. I really enjoy visual arts. I do also do audio engineering in my free time.
Chris: I write songs with my spare time. I’m trying to write for other people and stuff right now, maybe get a publishing thing going. I love video games. Let just say I had the Special Edition of World of Warcraft pre-ordered when it came out in 2004. I’m huge into MMOs, and the occasional FPS. I love to play Heroes of the Storm & Elder Scrolls. I thought I’d have time to play Elder Scrolls while on tour, but I haven’t seem to be able to find the time. I’ve played maybe twice on this tour.
What does the future hold for Plaid Brixx? Any plans on the 2017 horizon?
Chris: Hopefully release a lot of new music, & see what other opportunities float our way.
Mark: The opportunity for this tour happened so quick and so suddenly, so we’re hoping something similar happens again. We’ll release new music, and keep doing as much as possible.