Plateau hones latest album for touring

caitlinhardee

They rock your campus parties. They rehearse in your buildings. They cruise your quiet streets in a vast, suspicious beige van full of instruments and equipment. They are Plateau, and with the release of their self-titled album, we met the band in the KWCW studio to discuss the record, the touring experience and that sketchy vehicle.

“The ‘Folkswagen’?” said drummer and sophomore Alex Folkerth, laughing.

“It’s a sexual plot, really,” said lead vocalist and guitarist junior Adrian Tuohy.

“We tour in the van,” said Folkerth. “My grandfather Joe Romano was a jazz musician who used to tour in the same van. He passed away about a year ago, and I inherited the van: still putting it to good use.”

For Plateau, touring and performing live is an essential part of the band’s identity: extending even to the recording process.

“We definitely started as a live band, and we wanted our recordings to reflect that, so we recorded in Hunter, in the auditorium, just recorded everything live,” said Folkerth. “We did overdub some vocals and lead guitar, but basically it’s a live recording.”

“We didn’t do the bit-by-bit thing like everyone else does,” said Tuohy.

The band composed their material as a collaborative effort with Tuohy taking the lead in songwriting.

“I bring in the tunes, and then they interpret them, and always for the best,” said Tuohy. “Sometimes I might have a set idea of what I want, but usually what they want is better than what I want. It’s really a group process.”

And which songs were the band members most proud of?

“I am most proud of ‘The Slide,'” said bassist and vocalist sophomore Matthew Sweeney.

“I really like ‘I’m Asking Why,'” said Folkerth. “There’s something about the sound that turned out really well for me. I like listening to that one.”

“I kinda like ‘Away,'” said Tuohy. “And ‘Half Asleep,’ that’s a good one. ‘Life Inside a Letter.’ And basically every song is my favorite.”

“Cheers,” said Folkerth.

“It’s my: our: lives on a record,” Tuohy said, concluding.

Plateau recorded the album in April of 2009. Throughout the rest of the year, Folkerth produced and polished the tracks while Tuohy spent a semester abroad in Scotland. Revealing the friendship and camaraderie that have kept them connected, the band members spoke warmly of the other’s abilities and their dynamic together.

“Folk is the best producer,” said Tuohy. “Sween’s the master of harmony, the David Crosby.  I’ve never clicked with a group of people like I click with Plateau. We’ve got Folkerth who’s just fuckin’ amazing on the drums, he can interpret your mind. And Sween: Sween brings some sort of a bassline that you’ve never pictured, but it’s fantastic . . .”

“Let it not go unsaid that Adrian’s also talented,” said Sweeney. The band laughed.

Plateau’s reunion following the fall semester provided the perfect time for a January release, and now the band is honing and practicing their material for live gigs. The guys are working with a repertoire of 15 to 20 live tracks, for a set length of about an hour and a half.

For Whitman students who saw Folkerth and Sweeney perform last semester with King Friday, that band’s repertoire has not been wholly abandoned. King Friday, a recording project of Sweeney’s and Folkerth’s, turned into a live band with first-year Bo Sagal and junior Bailey Arango. With Tuohy’s return, the performance focus for Sweeney and Folkerth is back on Plateau: but the creative products remain.

“Sween is a fantastic songwriter,” said Tuohy.

“We do play actually a King Friday song from Enter The King,” Folkerth said, adding.

“And we’re going to try and incorporate more, cause Sween’s a great songwriter and needs to be heard,” said Tuohy.

Harnessing their material, the band took to the road for a round of live performances over the spring break, in cities ranging from Olympia, Wash. to Pullman, Wash.

“Whitman almost has this saturation point of creative people, with not enough people that are in audiences,” said Folkerth. “So it’s really nice to go to Pullman, not to stereotype the big public school, but there’s just not a lot of bands that play at Pullman that are students. So it’s really cool to go up there and they’re like, ‘Ohhh, you guys are a band, you’re really good! Oh, play at our party.'”

Plateau has been busy at Whitman too. Performances at Rosaacs last Friday and the Barefoot Formal on Saturday rounded out last weekend, and today, Apr. 22, the band has hit the road again for another show in Pullman. On June 5, the band will perform at The Raw Space in Ellensburg, Wash.

“We’re trying to plan some gigs throughout the summer: in Seattle, we hope to make it to Portland: we hope to cruise around a bit,” said Tuohy.

To stay up-to-date with the band and access free downloads of 10 of the 12 album tracks, check out their MySpace at  myspace.com/plateauwhitman.