On Weird Billboards and Video Games with Powerplant

photo by Josie Stahler

Just a few days into their first U.S. headline tour WLUW had the opportunity to sit down with London-based band Powerplant before their show at Empty Bottle. Here we spoke with the band about video games, the London music scene and strangely interesting American roadside scenery. 

Interview conducted by: Josie Stahler

Josie: Thank you guys for joining me. This is Josie from WLUW. I’m hanging out with Powerplant. Do you guys want to introduce yourselves? 

Theo: Hey, I’m Theo. How’s it going? 

Karim: I’m Karim. 

Lloyd: I’m Lloyd. 

Cam: Cam.

Josie: Very nice to be hanging out with you all, the Empty Bottle, Ukrainian Village. This is your first headline tour in the U.S. Tell me, I know you’re only a few days in but what has it been like for you? 

Theo: Confusing? I don’t know. I think it’s been like such a long time coming. It’s been really scary. I don’t know. I’m kind of like, well, we’ll just see what happens. I don’t know, but I think only today I said, we were driving, and in my head was like, so we’re actually in America, huh? 

Josie: Yeah, I mean, is driving in America okay for you guys? 

Lloyd: Yeah, it’s great. It’s nice. Yeah. Everyone always says it’s boring. 

Josie: Especially in the Midwest. 

Lloyd: Well, yeah, I was like, Oh, it’s a night like…well, where did we drive from the other day? 

Karim: Pittsburgh. 

Lloyd: From Pittsburgh to Cleveland. I mean, that’s not even a long drive. Everyone’s like, yeah, it’s a boring drive. It’s like it’s nice. 

Josie: You like it? 

Lloyd: Yeah. It’s just not what we’re used to. So it’s nice to have like somewhere different. 

Theo: Karim was staring at the billboards all day today. 

Karim: Oh, yeah. It’s all just like crazy lawyers like with hammers. Just like, “I’m gonna get you. I will win.” (laughs) “I don’t lose.” 

Josie: Wait until you get to the South, and they’re like, “Do you believe in God?” Very intense and there’s flames on the billboard. 

Karim: Oh my god. 

Theo: “You call that faith?” (group laughs)

Josie: Have you guys ever been to Chicago before? I mean, you said on Instagram you’re gonna be rocking with a hot dog in both hands. This is the place for a hot dog. 

Theo: I lie. It’s all lies. Don’t trust nothing. 

Karim: I’ve never been to America before. This is like yeah, this is sick. But I want to try a deep dish pizza. That’s like my mission. 

Lloyd: Yeah, this is my third show in Chicago. Played here in 2018, 2019, then today. 

Josie: Nice. Do you remember what venues? 

Lloyd: So the first time I played a house show in like a basement. I don’t know what area the city was. And then there’s a venue, I think it’s like a DIY venue that has like a skate park outside it, but I can’t think for the life of me. 

Josie: Cam? You? Chicago? 

Cam: I’ve never been to Chicago. I’ve been in the States. I have family here, but I’ve never been to Chicago. 

Josie: Okay, well, welcome. 

Cam: Thank you. I’m very excited because all my favorite music’s from here. 

Josie: Oh the Chicago music scene is great. 

Cam: Incredible. 

Josie: Yeah. I mean, speaking of music scenes, London music scene. Incredible. Talk to me about it a little bit. 

Cam: What are we saying? 

Lloyd: You begin.You’re the most musical out of all of us, so… 

Theo: You have a lot to say. 

Cam: No, not into a mic! (group laughs) It’s a…there’s a lot going on. A lot of different things. A lot of interesting things, a lot of horrible things that we’ll never speak about. 

Karim: (laughs) Unspeakable things happening in London, England right now. 

Cam: Yeah. There’s some basements in London I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to go to. 

Josie: Are there any specific bands you’d want to shout out from London? 

Theo: Let’s do it. Let’s do the friends. 

Karim: London bands… 

Theo: Let’s go with Silica. I’ll say Hellscape. Let’s go Hellscape. 

Karim: Middleman this band, they’re all super young. Really cool.

Lloyd: Do Stingray, Billy Trick.

Theo: Hell yeah. Are we doing just London, or are we doing the UK? 

Josie: You can do the UK! 

Theo: Let’s go Tramadol. Yeah, humble brag. Lloyd would never shout out his own band, but I’ll do it. 

Karim: Self-Immolation Music. Very, very good band. They’re like crazy. Psych rock stuff. 

Theo: The Shits. Let’s go…Pest Control. (to Cam) What about, what do you got to say? What about the good music? 

Cam: Uh…Oasis? 

Josie: (jokingly) I’ve never heard of them? Are they pretty famous? 

Theo: (sarcastically) I mean they’re coming up. I’d say invest in merch now. You know, get a couple of cars down the line…I don’t know. New York, our friends. It’s a London band called New York. They’re cool. 

Josie: Okay, so talk to me about your music. Theo you said in an interview that Powerplant’s style was supposed to be “textbook internet synth punk”, but took some turns along the way. Do you feel that you’ve taken a turn again? Has it been the same since especially with the latest EP?

Theo: It’s been…the turns are drifts now. You know. You’re just drifting in and out, aroundabout. Yeah, I don’t know. I think it just started with me like, copying music I heard on the internet, and then kind of like, kept hearing more music and it kept changing. I don’t know, but I think like, the last EP was probably the most like, back to basics kind of stuff, or like in my mind. But it won’t be the same again. 

Lloyd: It makes more sense. If you look at the discography, it’s like, there’s a few. Like Stump Soup was more of like, obviously an outlier, but it’s nice. It’s weird, they’re all like, kind of old songs for us that we’ve been playing for a while bar like, two of them. 

Theo: Yeah, pretty much. I don’t know. I don’t know. They sound old, but not? 

Josie: That’s the best thing though when you don’t know. It’s just like music is constantly developing, changing. 

Lloyd: You have so many demos. It’s cool just to like, see what you pick to put out when. We have like an insider view of it, obviously. Because there are songs we’ve been playing or like that you’ve sent demos of for the last like three or four years that aren’t out. And I’m always like, “Huh. I wonder why [Theo] didn’t want to do that one”. So it’s cool. 

Theo: These were just the most simplest ones to like, put out because I think like they were all supposed to be on like album two, like LP two. That’s taken a minute. I think, yeah, that was just like, something’s gotta happen. And if it’s gotta be, it’s gotta be that. But yeah, I don’t know. I feel like with this kind of stuff, I don’t know. Like, self reflection on your stuff is funny. I don’t know. I think like I find it pretentious to be like, “Wow”.

Josie: So talk to me about musical influences a little bit. Who are your influences specifically? 

Karim: You’re the guy to speak to… 

Theo: …Let’s start with Cam (group laughs). 

Cam: I guess my input is mostly live. So I’d probably say, Nine Inch Nails. Death Grips. I’m kind of going for the more bait and of like, things that don’t involve what the rest of the band do. Like my end of it. I’m trying to sort of go off a different direction and make it more interesting, I guess. 

Josie: For sure. 

Karim: Cam’s doing side quests. 

Cam: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Can’t think of many more interesting ones. 

Lloyd: I don’t know. I just play drums. I’m just like… 

Josie: (laughs) You’re just there? 

Lloyd: Yeah. There used to be this band that don’t play anymore from Sheffield called Civhead. They had a guy drumming called Bri, and it was before we did Poweplant, but I always loved watching him drum. He’s like, super quick, like 16th note like *mimics drum noises*, and I was always like, whoa, that’s so sick. And now that’s what I’m doing. So I guess shout out Bri. 

Theo: Big B. 

Karim: Honestly, like, I just play Theo’s tunes on bass. I mean, there’s bits, I guess. Like, I have a couple bass riffs that just like, I kind of do like the same one a lot. But it’s just like… 

Theo: *starts making mimicking a bass riff* 

Karim: (laughs) Yeah, it’s that one! It’s very like *also starts making bass noises* 

Theo: I don’t know. Where does it come from? 

Karim: Where does it come from? It comes from blues music! No, I don’t know. (group laughs) Something probably like, cause it’s like fast and kind of distorted a bit more on the record probably, like Lemmy and stuff like that. I guess just like, yeah, it’s very just like straight and distorted to be honest with you. 

Theo: I will say I don’t know. I don’t know, let’s go Bruce Springsteen. 

Cam: I will say also I’ve got a new pedal that has a bitcrusher in it, so a lot of the sounds I’m using at the moment are quite video gamey. 

Josie: Yeah, oh cool! 

Theo: (To Cam) Talk about video games. 

Josie: Do you have a favorite video game? 

Theo:  Ah yes! Say it. (the group starts chanting) Say it! 

Josie: You can say it. 

Cam: I don’t know it. What is it? Is there like a funny one I’m missing out? 

Theo: It was one you played today. 

Cam: Zelda? Oh, Minesweeper. It’s Minesweeper. Yeah. Yeah, I’ve been rinsing it. 

Lloyd: That’s kind of retro.

Cam: I got eighteen seconds on clearing the board today. 

Lloyd: I turn my head around for one second, and you looked at Theo and you were like, “Eighteen seconds” (group laughs). 

Cam: *into the mic* Minesweeper.

Josie: Everybody go play it.

Theo: I just played Silent Hill 2 the other day. That was pretty good. I think. Not pretty good, that was crazy. That was I think like, I found an old TV in the street that was like an old, like a lamp TV and it was kind of broken but it was perfect. I think the soundtrack to that is amazing. I think like…*hears noise coming from the back room* You know what I’m talking about? Those sounds? You’re hearing them. I said before the interview there’s a wall behind us. It’s making really odd sounds. That’s a real Silent Hill-style sound but uh, yeah, no great soundtrack. But um, yeah, music influences is Silent Hill 2.

Lloyd: Yeah, back to the precursor legacy. That’s got a great soundtrack too. 

Theo: The drums. Probably a lot of bongos. 

Lloyd: It’s kinda like *makes drum noises* 

Theo: Yeah, no. *goes back to making bass noises* 

Josie: *adds to the noise* Okay, so talk to me about this new Misfits cover you guys just put out. 

Theo: Oh, that’s ancient. 

Josie: That’s ancient? 

Lloyd: That’s what I’m saying. Everything is old. That’s the first time I’ve heard it though. (group laughs) 

Theo: Billy from Research Reactor Corp, Australia. They do like a cover comp, and over COVID they did like the third installment, and they got like 40 bands on it. There was like a double LP. They asked to do like a cover, and that was from like, 2021 essentially. It was always kind of like sitting around and it was like, probably time to actually do something. But yeah, that was a cool comp. They got like, insane covers on it. There’s like a Wet Ass Pussy cover on it. It was pretty crazy. I don’t know. It’s pretty rocking. It’s like a Lo-Fi punk cover of it, but like it works. You know it’s a good song when it works. But yeah, the story is, it’s all old.

Josie: Nothing new here. 

Theo: No, (laughs) no, no… 

Josie: Well, okay last thing I want to touch on. You guys do a lot of your own posters, album art, all that stuff. Is that because you have an eye for art? Or is that just part of the gig? 

Lloyd: It’s just so cheap (group laughs). No no I’m joking. 

Theo: I think it’s all like, DIY ethos. I don’t know, because it’s kind of like, I didn’t know who to ask to do stuff before. I kind of did it myself. Just stuck with it. But like now it’s literally like, Stump Soup is this guy Tom, who is English, but he lives in New York, and he drew the cover for that. Our friend Tasha, she drew the pixie, so I think it slowly it’s like, the blueprint kind of exists. I think like as long as it kind of like slots into like the lore. But Karim and Cam did some posters, and Karim does like crazy art all the time. 

Karim: Crazy. 

Theo: (jokingly) Deranged art…like 30 years ago it’d be illegal. (group laughs) Dare to enter? Dare to look at the art? 

Karim: Realistic Joker portraits all over. Why so serious? 

Lloyd: You’re like the Dan Flashes of like UK hardcore. 

Karim: It’s true (laughs). 

Lloyd: They’re just so complex. 

Theo: But why do you draw Karim? 

Karim: *leans in close to the mic* Um… (group laughs). 

Theo: That’s that. 

Josie: Cool. Well, thanks guys. That’s all I got for you. 

Powerplant: Thank you so much.

Follow Powerplant on Instagram and check out their Spotify below!

And you can get tickets to the rest of their US tour here!

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