Minor Plains: Excitement for the new and unknown
Moving to a new town and starting a band from scratch can be difficult. Raleigh Davis located to Bellingham from Port Orchard in 2010 and hit the streets to find people to play with to little success. Davis had been playing guitar for 10 years and had some band experience from high school but didn’t click with many of the people he was meeting up with.
In 2010 Nate Goldizen also found himself moving to Bellingham from Marysville for no particular reason other than it being a cool town. He had played in several bands including Last Flowers, which was mellower and more folky and orchestral and didn’t allow for the heavy hitting and spastic drumming he craved. Eventually Goldizen and Davis met through mutual friends and came up with a few song ideas. Their mutual love for Fall of Troy helped them bond quickly and match styles easily. It also helped that Goldizen’s experience drumming with multitudes of guitarists gave him a malleable style to whatever Davis threw at him.
Meanwhile, Goldizen was working at Mt. Baker and befriended Lucas Phillips who had been playing bass but was never really a part of an official project. After some convincing Phillips joined Goldizen and Davis for their jam sessions, and after they had written two complete songs began inviting people from neighbors’ parties over to performances in their loft where they played those two songs until every late meanderer had heard them.
“We’d finish playing and then be like ‘Wait, that person didn’t hear the first song!’ and just play the songs again,” said Davis. “Luckily everyone was drunk so they didn’t notice.”
Out of these jams and impromptu performances Minor Plains have developed an instrumental prog style derived from their influences in The Mars Volta, Minus the Bear, Tera Melos, and even, more locally, Dog Shredder. They use a lot of effects and Phillips even said that he is influenced by electronic music as is evident in his use of a pitch shifter to play micro-melodies over bass lines. Their songwriting process is fairly collaborative and democratic which can lead to a spattering of ideas that get taken apart and put back together. Additionally some songs start out as free-form improvisation and get more organized during their practice breaks. At home in atmospheric and groove-oriented tunes or rollicking downbeat power rock, Minor Plains get gratification out of simply playing together and having opportunities to share their music with others.
“We don’t think anyone will like our music as much us,” said Davis, noting the band has been surprised at the positive response so far.
At first booking their instrumental music was difficult as some promoters weren’t keen on giving show slots to a band without a vocalist, something that has lead them to overcompensate for by constructing musically-busy song progressions.
“We don’t want to give people time to realize that we don’t have a singer,” Davis said.
After finally getting a few gigs and playing and winning their “Showdown at the Shakedown” shows in April (a modest goal they set for themselves), it seems like all those impromptu jam parties are paying off. They have Seattle and Bremerton shows lined up with their friends in Fearless Leader and Post Madonna. They also have their first EP set to be released in mid-July, which was recorded by Stephen Gleason and Keegan Chapman from Truth Under Attack who they will be sharing the stage with at the Shakedown on July 14.