When Plains' frontman Michael McGinnis dragged the South Florida music swamp for a band to back him, he probably just wanted dudes who could carry a tune, keep a rhythm, and wield an ax as well as he does. To his surprise and benefit, when Jorge Graupera, Jorge Rubiera, and Max Johnson joined forces with him, he also acquired a P.R. team, an editing house, and very capable assistant engineers.
The beauty of Plains lies in McGinnis' songwriting -- it was one of our best South Florida records of 2011. Sure, he would still make good music with any band backing him. Far from hired guns, the rest of the gang have embraced their roles in Plains and are helping propel the band onto every radar.
With an opening slot for indie godfathers Sebadoh this Wednesday and a headlining gig at the Green Room on Thursday, hundreds of South Florida music fans will witness Plains' sonic glory this week. We cornered Plains guitarist and minister of press relations, Jorge Graupera, and asked him a few questions. Check it out now!
New Times: It's my understanding that everything on the first record was recorded by frontman Michael McGinnis; is that true?
Graupera: Yes, that's true. With the exception of "Judy" and "Dry," where I contributed to the arrangement and recorded the guitar solos, Michael recorded pretty much everything on the album himself.
Where did he record this fine record?
It was recorded at Honor Roll studios in Little Haiti.
How did you end up in Plains?
Jared McKay of Coral Morphologic emailed me a demo of "End of the World," back in April of 2009. I listened to it, and I wrote him back right away -- "This tune is great! Let me know more." I listened to it a few more times that same night and became obsessed and wrote back again before he had a chance to answer my initial response! "Dude! Who is this guy?" I was a fan right away. We got together after that, and we hit it off.
You are a South Florida music veteran; you've been in many popular bands like the Brand, Guajiro, and Jorges -- it seems like it would have been easy for you to jump on and join this group. What was it like meeting him and playing with him the first time?
Thanks! Our first attempt at a rehearsal was with a laptop running the drums tracks, Jared on bass, Mike singing and playing the guitar, and me re-creating or expanding on some of his ideas for a second guitar. It was very easy to make the jump in. I had been playing bass with Guajiro for a long time, but I was longing for a project [where I could play] guitar. The songs were great and very well arranged. I was jumping around at rehearsal -- my enthusiasm was obvious, I think.
Where does Sebadoh fit in your music library?
I didn't get into Sebadoh until much later in my musical life. I didn't listen to an entire record -- Sebadoh III -- straight through until about four years ago. But yeah, I dug it. I was on that kick for a while. I'm more into the Brit bands, though. Always been.
What song are you hoping they play?
A full-band version of "Spoiled." That would be awesome! I think Nada Surf based their whole career on that song!
When you play the Green Room Thursday, what do you expect from the downtown Fort Lauderdale crowd?
Their attention -- they always give it. They pay attention up there. I like it.
When do we get a new Plains album?
The next record is practically done, and it has more contributions from all the members of the band. I don't expect it will be out until 2013. We have some other surprises, like some double A-side seven-inch singles before then.
The music video for "Black Feeling" is very professionally executed; that's all you behind the camera?
It was true collaboration. Max had the initial idea of destroying the instruments; Jorge Rubiera and I shot the video -- he edited it, and I added some postwork to it.
It seems like you are the public voice of the band -- how did that happen?
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Out of necessity! I have very shy band members.
Sebadoh with Jacuzzi Boys and Plains. Wednesday, January 18, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $15 via fla.vor.us. Call 305-377-2277, or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
Plains. Thursday, January 19, at the Green Room, 109 SW Second Ave.,
Fort Lauderdale. Visit email@example.com.