We exist in a musical world of products and speed. Bands come and go, and half of the business has become mapping and predicting the next big thing. So what happened to integrity and the hard-working bands, the bands that aren't presented as a temporary fix? Bands like Planes Mistaken For Stars may have called it quits, but their ten-year legacy still shreds on. Below is one of the final interviews from the esteemed Denver post-hardcore group. I hope they inspire you hit up a couple more basement shows. Many thanks go out to Mike and Gared from PMFS and Emily Francis for making this a great interview.
For the record, what's your name and what do you play in PMFS?
Mike: This is Mike Ricketts (the drummer) aka MONGO!! And Gared OíDonnell git/vocals.
The novel on PMFS has come down to its last, defiant page. What's the moral of the story?
Gared: If I may be so bold as to quote myself ďWe are not but babes, grand but without grace.Ē There are no pots of gold but weíve seen a couple fucking rainbows.
How are you feeling about all of this? Remorse? Content? Exhausted, perhaps?
Mike: Perhaps. More that anything else, I feel a great sense of relief. We've accomplished more than I ever dreamed and kept our heads above water the whole way. I'm very proud and relieved that we made it through alive and kept our integrity. Gared: While I cant say Iím thrilled to close the book, I will say that it does feel organic, and I am glad that we all still love each other so wholly.
What's the hardest thing about breaking up?
Mike: Realizing that we may not see the friends we've met on the road over the years as often. Also, saying goodbye to the songs. We haven't played them for the last time yet, but when we do, I know it will be difficult.
What's the most satisfying thing about breaking up?
Mike: Putting an end to all the bullshit that goes along with being in a band. Van ownership, credit card bills, fixing/replacing equipment, merchandising, and playing the middle man/peacekeeper role between friends, to name a few.
What moments of your PMFS career (shows, festivals, releases, etc) particularly stand out to you? You guys have been down such a long road; you've gotta have some defining moments.
Mike: So many. Tripping on a Florida beach, opening for Motorhead, touring oversees (europe and japan), any sweaty small basement show we've ever played, having a group jerkoff into the ocean, taking a month in Seattle to record, Matt getting molested in Hotlanta, putting horns on Jesus in Columbus, ravaging downtown Madison with fireworks. There have been so many great times, itís difficult to narrow it down.
You guys have been doing this for nearly a decade, right? From when you started to now, how has your opinion of the music scene changed? Do you like it more or less than back then?
Mike: Itís difficult to say. I mean, you have to keep in mind that weíve changed as people over the past decade as well. Honestly, I donít go out to shows near as much as I used to. Maybe Iím getting old, or maybe the music scene has turned to shit and lost my interest. When I do go out, I always prefer smaller shows with a few touring bands and some great local acts that Iíve grown to love. It seems that people donít go out as much to smaller shows, house shows, etc. All the ďgoodĒ shows are at clubs or theatres Itís more difficult starting off as a band these days because a lot of young bands canít get on these shows and donít get paid shit. Getting from town to town is essential for any band, and with a weakened underground scene that doesnít support new music, it makes it hard to do. We need more house shows, and people attending need to be more generous in buying merchandise or even just giving donations to support the bands.
And being around for so long, releasing music on a few different labels (Deep Elm, No Idea and Abacus), you guys must've learned some lessons. What are some things that you'd like younger, newer bands to know before signing to a label?
Mike: Before you sign with anybody, make sure you have a good personal connection with whoever is putting it out. NEVER sign anything that you feel uncomfortable about or donít completely understand. This happened to us with the Knife in the Marathon release. We had already recorded it, paid for it ourselves, and right before it was to be released, we were asked to sign a document giving the rights away. Sign and release the record, or donít sign and the record doesnít come out? Hindsightís 20/20. We signed after much contention, and ended up paying for it (literally) years later. If something is good and you believe in it, someone will put it out eventually. You just have to search to find the right label. Gared: Keep your publishing.
No Idea Records is releasing The First Four Years. Why the first four? Why No Idea?
Mike: We did the first four years because all of our early releases were real short, ~20min. long. We thought itíd be cool to put it all in one nice package. Plus, by giving it to No Idea, we allowed them to have pretty much our entire catalogue since most of whatís on there was originally put out by other labels. No Idea has been amazing to us over the years. Weíve become close friends with everybody there and theyíve always done everything in their power to help us, from financial support to great advice. They are family.
As you look back, are there any regrets that come to mind?
Mike: No. The past ten years has been such a unique journey for us. We never expected to sell more than a couple hundred CDs. Sure, weíve made a few mistakes here and there, but life is a learning experience and weíve accomplished more than we had ever hoped for.
Gared: No regrets.
What's the longest stretch of time you've been on tour?
Mike: We went on a 3 month tour of the entire country and into Canada in early 2001. It nearly ended us. So from then on we decided to never go out for more than a month to help protect the longevity of the band. We still managed to be on the road for more than 6 months out of the year, and we gave ourselves the space we needed to stay friends and continue writing music.
Weirdest venues you've played?
Mike: We once played under a bridge with barrel fires on either side of us in 20 degree weather. A train had pulled up and stopped, blocking the entrance to the lot, so kids carrying blankets had to climb over or squeeze under the train to get to the show. This was in Birmingham with City of Caterpillar, our long time brothers. We were a bit skeptical at first, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable shows we ever played. Gared: The basement of a lesbian community center.
Let's look to the future! What's next? Side projects are in the working, I've seen. How are those unfolding?
Mike: Well Chuck and Neilís band, Git Some, is already very well established having rocked the west coast a few times already. An amazing band!! Highly recommended. Gared is planning on a collaboration project called Hawks and Doves where he would play with a multitude of musicians weíve met over the years. Heís already played a few Denver shows alongside our old guitar player, Matt Bellinger. As for me, Iíll continue to play every so often with my old band Jagtown. I also plan on putting something together in Chicago with some old friends once I get settled there. Iím really not sure what this will be yet, but Iíll keep you posted.
Let's say that the CD becomes an obsolete medium and vinyl is just a thing of the past. Can digital music still be as special and intimate?
Mike: I donít thing vinyl will ever become a thing of the past. Itís such a special medium. The ultimate collectible. Digital music is a great way to have a bunch of music in one place, but I donít think it could ever replace the intimacy that comes along with actually owning something physical, something with artwork and a booklet that you can look at and read while listening.
If you could cast your music as the soundtrack to one movie, what would it be and why?
Gared:Bar Fly. Itís the ultimate tale of humility and humanity.
Drink of choice?
Mike: Whiskey on the rocks. Gared: Whiskey and OJ.
Gared: Gaye, Greg Duli, Sting, Phil Lynottt, and the guys from Kill Creek and Seaweed.
Favorite place to eat on the road?
Mike: The Watering Hole in Lincoln, NE has the best fucking grilled wings in the country! We try to stop there as often as possible.
Best compliment a fan has ever given you?
Gared: That our music helped them through some hard times. Or that our music made them want to fuck. Mike: This old dude once told me that I reminded him of Bill Ward (Black Sabbath). Heíd actually seen him play in the late 70ís. That was pretty awesome. But more commonly, people will tell me Iíve influenced their playing, and to me, that is one of the best compliments a musician can get. Music evolves from past musicians. You take something you like from someone and rip it off, make it your own. So when someone tells me that Iíve made a difference in the way they play, I feel like Iíve made a difference. Iíve dumped my seed into the ocean of music.
I think that's about it. Thank you so much for doing this, and good luck in all your future endeavors. Any last words?
Gared: Take care of each other. Mike: Iíd just like to thank everybody whoís helped us and supported us over the years. We love you and will never forget you. Rock out with you balls out!!