Plastic Mermaids are a five-piece band from the Isle of Wight who, after building their own analogue studio, unleashed to an unsuspecting public their self-produced, original and sonically adventurous debut album titled ‘Suddenly Everyone Explodes’.
The band features brothers Jamie and Douglas Richards, who collaborate on vocals, synths and samples, along with guitarist Chris Newnham, bassist Tom Farren and drummer Chris Jones. Jamie is the technical one, always on hand to build or fix whatever piece of kit they need. “It’s important to mention that lots of times, obstacles were overcome simply by Jamie sitting for three weeks with a soldering iron and making the thing that we needed,” recalls Tom. “The desk that we recorded the whole album through, for example. Jamie just made that.”
Singles from the debut album included ‘1996’ and ‘Floating In A Vacuum’, both of which were warmly received by fans and critics alike, supported at radio by BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, John Kennedy from Radio X (who gave the band a recent Xposure live session), BBC6 Music’s Lauren Laverne & Chris Hawkins.
Plastic Mermaids are the sort of band who pay attention to every detail. The cover art of ‘Suddenly Everyone Explodes’ depicts a model village with figures bursting into flame. It’s not computer generated – Jamie built the model himself and then went through setting light to each of the people in the scene one by one. “It does really exist as a three-dimensional scene,” he confirms. The lake pictured on the cover art proved to be particularly tricky to get right. “We didn’t know what to make it out of, so we made it out of jelly,” says Doug. “Then it went mouldy.”
The band all spend a lot of their time in nature – particularly off the coast of their native island. “We all surf quite a lot,” says Jamie. “We’ve represented the Isle of Wight. It’s an influence on our music, in a way, because you’re spending a lot of time sat out in the sea when it’s freezing cold and, sitting there in the sea, you’ve got a lot of time with yourself to think. I think surfing is more of an influence than anything else on me.”
In terms of musical influences, fans of The Flaming Lips, Arcade Fire, Sparklehorse and Tame Impala will all find something to love in Plastic Mermaids’ richly-textured sound.
For the band, that sense of challenging themselves keeps it interesting. “It’s just nice to get out and do something different,” says Chris Newnham. “It makes it exciting. I don’t think we’ve ever done a gig where we’ve been 100% sure whether it’s going to go right. There’s something that’s kind of nice about that.”
Most bands wouldn’t go to those sorts of lengths for their art, but Plastic Mermaids aren’t like most bands. More than just a record, they have created their own very idiosyncratic world.
Of late, the band announced “We’ve been working hard on new stuff which will start popping up very very soon”, and thus is preceded by the announcement of a 10 date UK tour, which includes an appearance here in Brighton. The guys will be dropping back into Patterns (located at 10 Marine Parade, Brighton, BN2 1TL) on Wednesday 27th October 2021. You can purchase your tickets HERE, HERE and from Resident music.
Plastic Mermaids previously appeared live at Patterns back on 21st September 2019. The Brighton & Hove News Team were in attendance – Read our review HERE. Prior to that, we had witnessed them play The Great Escape new music festival in May and a rousing set at The Prince Albert on 14th March 2019, which you can see HERE.
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