Visiting Cambodia for their fourth tour this weekend and next are the eight piece Australian rock’n’soul outfit PlanB, playing shows in Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap. Leng Pleng spoke to band leader Sneaky Pete about the history of the band and the coming tour.
“I was very much influenced by Dexys Midnight Runners, that was the whole reason for starting the band in the first place,” says Pete, before clarifying: “the original, pre-Come on Eileen Dexys, their first LP Searching for the Young Soul Rebel with the hit Geno – in my mind, every other song on there is better than Geno. When we started we were doing half of the Young Soul Rebels album and half original material that I was writing.” This meant, of course, the delights of having a three-piece horn section. “Over the years PlanB has developed a signature sound – melodic songs, with our brass section which has been pretty consistent since the band reformed. Over the last ten years we’ve pretty much had the same three guys.”
Along the way they’ve even managed to cross paths with their primary influence. “In fact their trombone player, Jim Paterson, is a close friend now, and he guested on trombone with us – we put a cover of their song Plan B, and he kindly did the trombone solo for us.”
Originally formed in the 1980s, the band reformed in 2009, with the new lineup making overseas touring a priority. “With my old day job I was working with the Australian government, and I got the opportunity to travel around a bit. I was posted in a couple of places – China, Vietnam. When the band got back together again I thought this time let’s tour, go overseas. I had a few contacts, we got some initial tours through Vietnam and Cambodia. We’ve now done China a couple of times, Thailand. One time we went up to Mongolia – which is on very few people’s CVs. We ended up playing 10 of the 11 days we were there, including the Hard Rock Café in Ulaanbaatar, the Ulaanbaatar Jazz Club. We’ve been to the UK now twice as well – the first time we had six festival appearances, playing alongside some of our musical heroes.”
And all with no signs of slowing down. “We’ve now got two studio albums under our belt, and a live one, and we’ve recently recorded our first vinyl 10 inch EP with four new songs, that we’ll be promoting on this tour. Once we come back we’ll be recording another three or four songs, gradually building it into an album.”
The band is looking forward to their return to old haunts. “Cambodia is our kind of place. My first taste of Cambodia was when I was working out of the Australian embassy in Bangkok, back in the 90s, and I had several trips to the Phnom Penh embassy for visa processing work, and I got to know and love the place. This time we’re playing the Hard Rock Cafés in Phnom Penh and in Siem Reap, at Here Be Dragons in Battambang. Then we’re very fortunate to have a benefit show for the Angkor Hospital for Children at the Cambo Beach Club, and we’re also going to be shooting a film clip for the lead track on our vinyl EP, a track called Anything at all.”
The tour begins at Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh on Friday 1, and ends with a return to Sharky Bar, on Saturday 8, where they first played ten year ago on January 2, 2010.