Interview: Plaid Brixx
Written by Holli Phillips on March 11, 2017
By: Mikala Lugen and Holli Phillips
Founded in 2013 from Columbus, Ohio, Plaid Brixx is an alternative-pop band that has risen from a kids-on-the-block basement group to a nationally known alternative trio.
Holli and I got the chance to sit down with Chris Duggan, Mark LeRose and Jared Sawaya in the Chipotle next door before their show at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights on Friday, March 3.
Chris: We’re from Columbus but we know where Kent is! We played at Kent State for freshman orientation in 2014. There was a DJ, and everyone was way more into seeing the DJ than us haha.
Black Squirrel Radio: How did you guys meet and become a band?
Chris: Well I actually went to school with Mark. We played in a really bad punk rock band. We wanted to be Blink 182 haha.
Chris: Yeah Jared was actually a fan, and we asked him if he wanted to be in a music video and pretend to play the keyboard. And he was so good at pretending that we asked him to learn how to play keyboard for the band and he did! And then once our bass player left, he took over for him.
BSR: How did you take the turn from wanting to be a punk band to what you’re doing now?
Chris: Well our musical tastes changed as we grew into older adults. Our reasoning changed, it was all about fun. We wanted success and it’s hard to get mainstream success as a punk band.
BSR: Well you guys are touring with kinda big punk-ish bands! How did you guys get onto the tour?
Chris: Just magical, behind-the- scenes, booking agents talking haha. We actually found out just a couple weeks before the tour. And we were like, “Oh my God!!!”
BSR: Is it cool touring with Cute is What we Aim For and We the Kings?
Chris: It’s awesome they’re all really nice, we love it.
BSR: Do you guys all hang out?
Mark: Oh yeah that’s my favorite part. It’s the bands we listened to when we were younger and now we’re hanging out with them and playing shows with them every night. Shaant from Cute is What We Aim For, we started calling him our “tour dad” because he’s taken us under his wing, shown us the ropes because this is our first big tour.
BSR: What’s your favorite venue you’ve played at?
Mark: On the tour, PlayStation Theatre in New York City. We were all pretty nervous before we went on. Unusually nervous.
Chris: It’s on Time Square, the largest crowd we’ve ever played in front of.
BSR: Is the Grog Shop a smaller venue than what you guys are used to?
Mark: A little bit, but the smaller shows are a lot of fun.
Chris: They’re sweatier, more fun haha. But yeah for PlayStation Theatre there was a camera crew, and it was a situation where we were all like, “Don’t fuck up.” And we didn’t.
BSR: How does it feel to do your first tour?
Plaid Brixx: Excellent. Wonderful. Exciting. Busy. Tiring. But worth it.
BSR: Was it everything you thought it would be like?
Chris: It’s much more brutal. We don’t have any roadies or anything. So we load our gear from the hotel every day into our van, then out at the venue, then back in the van, then out again at the hotel.
Mark: It’s like eight different trips of loading up carts, it’s really difficult but it’s worth it.
BSR: Has the response from the audience been good?
Chris: There’s this girl who tweeted that she wants to get our lyrics tattooed on her body. The ladies have been going crazy for Mark. Straight up one girl asked Mark, “I want you to go into the bathroom, take off your underwear and give it to me.”
Mark: I was a little uncomfortable, I said I only brought enough pairs for each day of the week and that I couldn’t afford to lose any.
Chris: And then one girl we were talking to at our merch booth, she stuck her finger in my mouth when I yawned. I was like, “What did you just do?!” She was like, “Sorry I’m just used to doing that. Sorry are you a germaphobe?” And yes I am. But I don’t think you have to be a germaphobe to be concerned with having a stranger put their finger in your mouth.
Chris: Anyways, we do an Audience MVP Award every show, and we give flowers away to whoever was rocking the hardest.
BSR: Aww, when did that start?
Chris: On Valentine’s Day this year on our tour kickoff show.
BSR: How many shows have you guys played?
Chris: This is our 12th show.
BSR: Wow and it’s been less than a month since the tour kicked off.
Mark: Yeah two weeks so far, we’ve only had two off days.
Chris: Twenty-one more shows after tonight.
BSR: Are you guys recording anything new?
Chris: There are three songs that are being finished right now, they’ll be released as singles. We’re releasing one with a video right after tour. It’s gonna be dope. We’re gonna be releasing cover songs as well.
BSR: Do you write all your own music?
Chris: Yes, we do co-writing with people sometimes too. There are songs that I write myself, and we work with producers that make beats and they work with us. I’ll come in and write lyrics and melodies on top of that. Our first album I did all that in my basement.
BSR: What as a band has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
Chris: Driving home from Toronto in a rainstorm.
Mark: Jared trekked us through the treacherous weather.
Chris: It was the biggest downpour that I’ve ever seen in my life, for two hours straight.
Mark: He had the wipers on full-blast and we still couldn’t see.
BSR: Were you guys going to another show?
Mark: Yeah we were just leaving Toronto on our way to Buffalo. But other than the rainstorm, definitely PlayStation Theatre. The fact that we got to go there on our first tour in front of 1500 people, it was amazing.
Chris: And we filmed a music video directly before.
BSR: Is there a favorite song you like to play at each show?
Chris: I really like “Away We Go.”
Mark: I really like “Don’t Look Down,” we’ve been closing with that one. It’s really fun to play and the audience is usually going pretty hard to it. So that’s probably my favorite.
BSR: How did you guys come up with the band name?
Chris: Where we grew up there was a lot of bricks. And I love plaid. I thought there was a lot to do with set visuals. Triple hashtag is now our band symbol because it looks like plaid.
BSR: Is there plaid on the merch you guys sell?
Chris: No it’s too obvious. But Mark actually does all the art for the merch.
Mark: Yeah I design them, I just did one specifically for this tour, a skull design. But I also drew up an owl and octopus design.
While finishing up the interview, we got the pleasant surprise of finding out that Chris’ mom is the band’s business manager.
BSR: How do you feel seeing your son go from playing in your basement to going on a national tour?
Ann Hailey: Well I am a business woman myself. I don’t tour with them, but I have some meetings that line up perfectly with their tour so I am able to see them at some venues. But I am incredibly proud, I think every parent hopes that their child will find something they love and what they’re good at. Because if you don’t have both of those, then it’s hard to have a regular life. Chris has known what he wants since he was eight, so just supporting that has been a pleasure.
With a crack of a vegan joke, we wrapped up our Chipotle sitting with the guys and wished them luck with the rest of their tour.
Check out their newly released music video to their song “Greener Side”: