Plini Kicks Off Second India Tour, Plots New Material
The Australian prog/rock guitarist-composer on his latest EP ‘Sunhead’ and finding his pace
For those whose lament about instrumental progressive/rock music is to do with the sameness of it all, Australian guitarist and composer Plini is likely the exception. Across several singles and EPs released since 2013, his latest record Sunhead (2018) is perhaps most sonically diverse.
It’s just four songs, but in addition to inviting vocal harmonies from Mumbai/Los Angeles-based Devesh Dayal (guitarist in prog band Skyharbor) on “Salt + Charcoal,” Plini truly branches out on “Flâneur.” The track brings together breathy synth and piano parts from Montreal-based artist Anomalie and saxophone from British artist John Waugh (who also performs with pop-rock band The 1975). Sunhead proved that Plini is not just about twinkly instrumental rock. The diversity, according to him, “was the natural result of the music I’ve been listening to.”
Between March 6th and 10th, on his second tour of India in the span of a year – courtesy of artist and event company BlueTree – fans will likely hear a slightly different Plini. Of course, it makes a difference that he’s not accompanied by Serbian guitarist-composer David Maxim Micic like last time, but it’s also because of Sunhead, which Plini says was influenced by “the excitement of my first couple of years of real international touring.”
Ahead of the tour, Plini talks about getting the hang of touring, Indian audiences and plans for the rest of 2019. Excerpts:
In the time that’s gone by with the release of Sunhead, what do you feel has been an important change or growth in you as a person and musician?
Since recording Sunhead in early 2018, I was on tour or traveling almost non-stop – seven weeks in North America directly, straight into a month in Europe, a couple of weeks at home, then back to Europe, then an Australia tour, and then back to Europe again.
By nature, my mind is almost always on the future or planning something, but I think out of sheer mental exhaustion from constantly preparing for the next trip, and the next trip, I got better at tuning back into the present moment and enjoying it in real time. I haven’t necessarily changed all too much in the last year, but I think I have found better ways to slow down and be more present, and I think this will be reflected in the next lot of songs!
For Sunhead, how differently did you have to think as a songwriter? Did some song ideas kind of originate with the idea of, say, having a saxophone or vocals?
I think this was the natural result of the music I’ve been listening to. I don’t listen to nearly as much guitar-centric music as I did a few years ago, and so the types of sounds I like to hear have changed! They didn’t really originate with the idea of including those extra instruments, but when I heard a space for a solo, I thought it would be more interesting to bring a saxophone into the mix than a guitar, and likewise I thought effected vocals would add a great texture to the melodies in “Salt + Charcoal.”
In terms of songwriting, I can imagine it’s an ongoing process, even as material keeps coming out. Where are you at with new material right now? Will you take more time with the follow-up to Sunhead?
Next, I’m going to take as much time as I need to put together a (hopefully) great album. I’ve got a couple of songs demoed, and a handful of ideas that I think have potential, but I’m waiting until I’m home from tour so I can pursue these ideas with a totally clear mind and see what happens.
In your time in India when you did the masterclass/clinic as well as the shows, what was a really surprising thing you learned about India’s music listenership, if anything?
The fans of this type of music in India are definitely as passionate and up-to-date as the fans of this music anywhere else in the world. I’m not sure if this surprised me, necessarily, but I definitely got the sense that the prog/guitar scene, and possibly the international live music scene in general, is starting to really explode in India!
Were there any really memorable or funny incidents from last time around in India that you can recount?
The whole tour was full of them, but one of them would definitely have been sneaking into the VIP area with David Maxim Micic to watch [rapper-singer] Sean Paul close out the VH1 Supersonic festival. I never could have predicted that being a situation to find myself in (laughs).
You’ve got a bunch of shows that will keep you on the road until the end of April. What is usually high on the priority list when you come back home after multiple lengthy tours?
Hang out with friends and family, sleep, give emails a rest for a few days, and write music!
What else is coming up through 2019?
After the Asia and India tour, we do a headliner in the U.S. and Canada with [instrumental band] Mestis (Javier from Animals As Leaders) and Dave Mackay, then I’m home until I go to teach at Vai Academy in New York at the end of July. After that, there may be a couple of little tours at the end of the year, but mostly I’m going to focus on writing and recording. I also have a very, very exciting piece of guitar software coming out soon, but that’s still a secret…
BlueTree and Atonal Music Agency Present Plini Sunhead India Tour
March 6th – Fandom at Gilly’s Redefined, Bengaluru w/What Escapes Me (Buy tickets here.)
March 7th – Todi Mill Social, Mumbai w/What Escapes Me (Buy tickets here.)
March 9th – Infinite Cartwheels, Hyderabad (venue, tickets TBA)
March 10th – Studio XO Bar, New Delhi w/Submarine In Space (Buy tickets here.)
Watch what went down at Plini’s last tour of India below: