Plaskett talks to the Cord about his three-disc release
Joel Plaskett is breaking from the norm. To put it more specifically, he’s breaking from his norm.
Plaskett’s latest album, Three, is a folk-rock collection of conceptual pop songs spanning 27 tracks on three discs.
He has also recorded a song with Nova Scotian rapper Classified entitled “One Track Mind” – a departure from the solo efforts that have characterized the last decade of Plaskett’s career.
“I’ve let down my indie-rock guard,” laughed Plaskett, who was speaking from his cell phone in a record store in St. John’s, New Brunswick.
Plaskett was catching a few minutes of down-time in between making dinner arrangements with his band for the evening, gearing up for a show in town and marketing the vinyl version of his new album.
To top it all off, Plaskett is releasing the entirety of Three on vinyl, which will be available for sale at his shows as well as on the website of his personal label, New Scotland Records.
“I wanted to really go the whole nine yards,” said Plaskett, who will be travelling more than a few yards when he begins his cross-Canada tour this month.
With a departure, journey and return, the tour resembles the triadic structure of Three and offers a similar variety of sounds.
Plaskett will be journeying out west, performing acoustically with his father, the Rose Cousins and Anna Egge, all of whom are featured on his latest album.
Upon his return to Ontario, Plaskett’s backing band The Emergency will join him for the electric segment of his tour, which includes a set at Toronto’s Massey Hall.
“It’s going to inject a different energy into the whole thing at that point,” said Plaskett.
Plaskett’s near-constant travelling and touring was a strong influence on his new album.
With his tour-mates as his only consistent companions, Plaskett explains that travelling can be an alienating experience.
For him, music becomes a way to reach out to others, whether it’s in a church in Edmonton or an auditorium in Halifax.
“What I like to do is communicate and use language and performance and entertainment as a way to reveal some aspect of things I care about – and I think maybe other people care about too.”
Plaskett explains that on the album Three, he tried to look at what he does from a different perspective.
“A lot of it is musing on the fact that what I do has a selfish pursuit to it.”
Plaskett’s album has that “just-right” sound to it, where each guitar-hook and drum-shuffle beckons the listener in.
According to Plaskett, however, faultlessness wasn’t the goal. Though he admits to being detail-oriented and “pretty obsessive,” he sees perfection as a very subjective thing.
“If the song is good and it captured the spirit in which it was written, that’s going to mean more over the course of 27 songs than whether this was the perfect pop song arrangement or if the drum beat was exactly what it should be.”
Plaskett’s structuring technique of the number three throughout the album is mostly due to his fascination with numerology, language, and – of all things – chemistry.
“In chemistry, you put two things together and if they truly mix, the individuals that are the other two things become more perceivable.
“It’s not like I’m a conspiracy theorist or a total obsessive compulsive numerology freak but I like the idea that two people have a third thing between them that nobody else has.”
The melodies and words on Three, says Plaskett, could have been sewn together in a thousand different ways – but the mixture he found was perfect for him.