Volume 94, Issue 66

Friday, January 19, 2001


Hennessey brings AM radio back to life

Plasticine - not just for kids

Plasticine - not just for kids

Gazette File Photo
WHAT'S THAT IN YOUR EAR, DUDE? The members of Plasticine stand around and look fabulous in preparation for their show at The Spoke tonight

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

When you think of the word "plasticine," perhaps you think of your kindergarten class or the claymation British duo of Wallace and Gromit. Ask Rob Szabo what he thinks when the word comes up and he confidently says, "Full rock! We're a rock band."

As one of two singer-guitarists, Szabo is open and enthusiastic about his band, Plasticine. With most members based in Waterloo, they are constantly commuting back and forth to Toronto, where they do the majority of their business, something that has picked up considerably since the quartet signed with Song Corp. Previously, they managed themselves, but giving up that responsibility has been a liberating move, he says.

"We're musicians. We did the whole thing where we managed ourselves. We booked our own gigs, we were our own agent and did our own press. But how can you be the best musician in the world, if you're not devoting all your time and energy to music?" Szabo explains, "That's the only thing we ever wanted to do. Why not spend all our time on the music and get other people who are good at managing and promoting and stuff like that, so we can concentrate on music?"

Music is undoubtedly Plasticine's primary focus. While the majority of the music heard on modern radio today can be unoriginal and formulaic, Szabo maintains that the band's goal is to bring something real to their audience.

"If you listen to the sort of stuff that's coming out on radio and video lately, it's these bands where you listen to their record and every song sounds the same," Szabo says. "It's the cookie-cutter kind of thing and we just want to let the song speak for itself – not think too much about making the song sounding one way or another."

Although Plasticine has only released one album, all four members are veterans in their own right. Szabo has been a member of the Groove Daddys, Roger Travassos has played with JACKsoul, Adam Buschlen played bass with the Shannon Lyon Pop Explosion and second guitarist/vocalist, Steve Strongman, has previously been a member of the Tal Bachman Band. Because of their combined experiences, Szabo promises that Plasticine's live show is their forté.

Aside from entertaining crowds with a positive, energetic rock show, Szabo says what's unique about Plasticine is their two frontmen, instead of one. He contends there are no egos or attitudes involved, but rather, a genuine understanding between himself and Strongman.

"A lot of people mistake Steve and I for brothers, because we look the same and we're these big, tall skinny guys. We're kind of joined at the hip, so it's interesting to see how we react because we've been playing together for so long," he explains. "There's this weird thing that goes on where we kind of do the same thing but without even talking about it."

From this vantage point, the outlook seems good for the future of Plasticine. Hailed as one of the best bands from last year's North By Northeast music festival and conference in Toronto, they're hitting campus bars across the province with other noteworthy performers, The Weekend and Hennessey. More touring and another album is planned for the rest of 2001, but it's nothing that Plasticine isn't ready for.

"We've done a whole bunch of demos already and hopefully we'll have something done by the fall," Szabo says, excitedly. "We're playing those [songs] in our set and that's another reason why the set seems to be high energy and out of control because a lot of the new songs seem to be more in that direction, so we're stoked!"

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