"There’s a lot of self-exploitation within these songs, and it was a really beautiful process because of that."
The Plot In You are on the verge of releasing their new album 'Swan Song' tomorrow (September 17) via Fearless Records.
As much a dark pop record as it is a convulsing post-hardcore epic, the band stretch their creative muscles in ways nobody else dares and come out the other end with a collection of songs designed to get under the skin. Emotionally raw, cathartically real and with as much crushing grit as glorious melody, it is, quite simply, an essential listen from a band unlike any other.
To find out how this stunning offering came to be, we sat down with vocalist Landon Tewers and had a good old chat...
The only place to start is with the end of the ‘DISPOSE’ cycle, an album that gave you some of your biggest songs ever. What did the reaction to that album provide for you to justify the risks you were taking sonically and emotionally and prepare you for this new record?
“It was very bizarre, for sure. Every record that we had put out before ‘DISPOSE’ felt like it took a year or two before people started to get and appreciate it. That sometimes felt like such a bummer because I always put so much into every record. Then ‘DISPOSE’ came out, and everybody instantly got it and flocked to it. The cycle was rough, though. We toured for maybe six or seven months out of the first year of it being out, the same with the second year. That was challenging as I was in a brand new relationship. I ended up getting married in the middle of the cycle too. Then towards the end, I was getting to a place where I was considering whether I wanted to be doing this still, as it got pretty brutal.
“But then COVID happened, and it allowed me to step back and chill and be a normal person for a bit. It let me enjoy being married and living in general. Any plans of when this record needed to be done put on hold so that I could take my time on all of it.”
When you’re going through such incredible life changes around the band's schedule and singing songs that relate to a different life you had lived, your mindset must shift so much as well. How do you feel as though those shifts helped you write about the things you have on ‘Swan Song’?
“Being on tour and being in the middle of a record cycle and on the go almost doesn’t give you the chance to meditate on the things that are happening in your life. You don’t need to process many things because you’re constantly being thrown Dopamine through playing shows, meeting fans and hanging out with friends. So many distractions where you’re not processing anything. You’re just engaging in what is in front of you. That’s been nearly all of my 20’s. And by not processing anything, I was also suppressing many things that were building up inside me.
“COVID then gave me a real honest reflection of a lot of those things I had been suppressing. That’s why I’m so proud of this record. It’s a full-fleshed meditation on many things in my life that I kept on pushing back down. The longer that went on, the worse it got. I even saw a therapist for the first time whilst not on tour, which was bizarre. Getting so many things off my chest and catching up on things in real life that I had never had the time to do previously. It forced me to approach the whole writing process in a different way than I had before because of that.”
You can draw so many different conclusions when the environment and circumstance you’re coming to them in has changed. Though when The Plot In You is a band you have put so much of yourself into over the years, it’s fascinating to find those new things about yourself…
“There are so many songs on this record, like ‘Letters To A Dead Friend’ and ‘Both To Blame’, that I have had the concepts for in my head for so long. But I just never sat down and fully fleshed out the ideas the way I wanted to. I think this record gave me the chance to hold myself accountable for things that I’ve wanted to speak on for so long. An opportunity to provide that honest commentary about my life and me. There’s a lot of self-exploitation within these songs, and it was a really beautiful process because of that. I don’t think I have done a record like this before in any capacity. I guess that Plot has always been about anger and intense things surrounding that. So this felt like a nice step back in being more honest and vulnerable about my behaviour, my way of thinking and my way of reacting to things.
“It’s always weird to see the difference between the last album you make and the latest one you make. You can’t believe you were at such a low point before. But the break and having that space has done wonders for my mental health in general. Touring resulting in a lot of numbing and going through the motions whilst not processing anything properly.”
On a production side of things, which you took the reigns on this time, it feels like you were pushing the Plot wheelhouse even further than ever before. How can a beat fit in with this riff? How can we put this pop sensibility in a post-hardcore song? What does it like to have extended those limits even more so?
“The thing is, I’m a huge pop guy. I love production more than anything in the world as well. It’s my favourite thing to sit down and do. and going into this record, I thought, ‘How am I going to get the most joy out of making this?’ The answer is making a pop record and then add layers of Plot over it. My approach would be finding a sound that inspired me, take the intro to ‘Face Me’, and then base the whole song around it. Go back and simplify things and work from the ground up. I haven’t heard much of that style of thing in our scene recently.”
It’s in thinking like that that you’re able to extend what the scene is capable of. It gives it even more places to draw inspiration from in the future…
“I see that as a responsibility whenever I sit down to write something. I don’t want to spit out something that people have heard a thousand times before. I don’t want to keep on adding to something that has been done. Even if it fails or is well-received, it was still worth trying. I would rather say that I put effort into making something authentic and progressive than just giving people something they have heard before. Like, what’s the point? If I ever reach a point where I feel like I have to do that, I would much rather quit.”
If you’re putting yourself through a particular memory or experience or personal hell to make art from it, you want it to be the best it can be. You’re not going to waste that emotion on something that you’re not entirely in love with…
“That’s another blessing within being able to record and produce myself. When you’re doing something with someone else, you feel this weight within the restraints of time. You have this many days to flesh out ideas. With the way that I approach things, it needs to be a never-ending amount of time. So if I have to take a month off to recoup and come back to it fresh, I can do that. It’s a real luxury now.”
With this album in mind and the way you have been able to make it come to life, how do you feel the role of The Plot In You has changed within your life?
“Every album cycle, I feel like I have such a different outlook on life. But these days, I’m baffled than anything that is still in my life. Back in 2015, I would have probably said that I was so ready for all of this to be over and that I was so over it because I was. Now I can look back and appreciate everything in a way that I couldn’t before. Being able to do anything for ten years and continue climbing up is a cool thing, and I’m grateful for the people in my life that have allowed me to keep on doing it. The older I get, the more optimistic I’m trying to be within the experiences that we are allowed. As a band, we’re still growing closer, and those friendships keep on getting deeper and more meaningful. I’m just grateful for it all.”