I believe it’s safe to say that the Colorado music scene has become quite political since this last presidential election. Bands all around the state have been dedicating shows to support equality and fight stigma making the scene a better place for anyone and everyone who is a part of it. One band in particular has been making a lot of noise along the front range speaking their minds and creating a beautiful atmosphere for not only the LGBT+ community but for anyone who feels outed by the world. Plasma Canvas is a two piece Punk Rock band consisting of Jamie Axton and David Sites from Fort Collins and they have a strong message for the world. I sat down with Jamie Axton (Vocals/Guitar) and recorded that message in this Co Local interview.
What was your motivation to start a two piece Punk Rock band and how did it all come together?
Jamie: “I’ve been in several bands over the years, and they have all had at least three people in them, until now. As much as I love the stage presence of having three, four or five people on a stage, I’ve learned that I work best as a songwriter when I have to communicate my ideas to as few other musicians as possible. It allows me to be more honest and direct with my songwriting, which is crucial for the type of music that I write. When I first moved to Fort Collins, I had an album’s worth of songs that I’d written about my life and I wanted to immortalize them, so I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a drummer. Eventually I was contacted via email by Dave Sites, and we met up to jam. It was awkward at first, so we just played as many songs as we could and stayed busy. Three practices in, I booked our album release show at Seventh Circle Music Collective for October 14th, 2016. I work well under a deadline, so I knew that at the rate we were progressing – we had about four songs completely mapped out – that we were more than capable of recording and releasing an album in that timeframe. We released our album on the projected release date, which was a feat that I was very proud of.”
You’ve released a full length album when in today’s scene bands mostly put out EPs. What was your reason for writing a full length album and it did it help relay your message?
Jamie: “To be honest, I tried to block out anything anyone else was doing with music and do justice to the art that I was trying to create. There is nothing wrong with making an EP, but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I was adamant about staying true to the vision I had for what I was writing. I had also always loved longer albums, regardless of the genre. I wanted to create a certain void that was easy to lose yourself in. It was also a matter of having a lot to say. There were a lot of nuanced emotions that I was trying to make sure had a worthy place on the album. There were so many feelings that I was experiencing for the first time, or in a new way, so I wanted to make sure that there was plenty of room on the album to convey them all properly and honestly. The result was everything I’d hoped for. I feel like the album sort of grabs you and takes you on a ride into some new and challenging places that I hadn’t really heard in an album before. That was my goal from the beginning.”
The Plasma Canvas Self Titled is packed with personal lyrics and stories. Would you consider this a concept album?
Jamie: “I suppose it’s a mix of a concept album and a diary. I wasn’t really aware that I was writing an album for most of the songwriting process. I was just writing songs about the things that I lived through, and some things that I almost didn’t live through. By the time it was done, it told a story. That part was sort of half-intentional. I wanted both the lyrics and the music to have a flow to it that didn’t feel forced. However, when writing the album, one thing that I was trying to keep in mind was to keep it accessible to anyone who needed to hear it. For that reason, words like “queer”, “transgender”, “dysphoria”, “gender”, etc. aren’t on the album, because it was always more than just a queer record to me. There are a lot of themes of rejection, abandonment, rebellion, internal conflict, identity, and the feeling of not having found one’s place in the world. Those themes were just as as important to me as talking openly about my life as a transgender woman was. The concept is the need to speak your own truth when the world is constantly telling you to be silent. I like to think of the album itself as a giant exclamation point.”
The Colorado music scene is always evolving but adding the raw punk sound back into the mix can be challenging. How would you say the scene responds to such a unique sound?
Jamie: “Every single show we have played has had a positive reaction – even the ones where we had technical issues. I have been told on several occasions that there is a “realness” to our music that is impossible to ignore. I’ve always given every ounce of energy that I have to every performance, but Plasma Canvas feels so much different than any other band I’ve played in. I’m finally able to say exactly what I want to say, without any metaphors or coded language getting in the way of the feeling I’m trying to express. I feel free, and I feel like that resonates with people. I also really enjoy sticking out like a sore thumb. I used to think that my sound and songwriting style was too all-over-the-place. In recent years, I’ve come to see this as a strength, and not at all a weakness. My influences are everywhere from classic rock to Motown to death metal to funk to thrash. I like creating a colorful sound, and that is only made easier by the fact that I only have to communicate with one person onstage. Dave and I know where the song is supposed to go, and we take it there. Every song feels brand new, with infinite possibilities, because it is. My thinking is that if I write with honesty and follow the song, there is no wrong way that I can go with it. As for how people react to it, that’s an added bonus. We make music completely for ourselves, and try to view any response to that as icing on the cake. As long as we keep telling the truth onstage, I believe that people will continue to appreciate that.”
We’re almost halfway through the year and it’s obvious that Plasma Canvas has been very busy. What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Jamie: “We are very excited for what the rest of 2017 has in store for us. We’ve only been a band for a little over a year, and we already have plans to do a small Midwest tour at the end of June and a bigger tour of the Southwest in August. We are also playing several festivals, as well as a few shows at some local favorites, like Seventh Circle Music Collective and Surfside 7. We just played Hodi’s Half Note recently, and it was a blast. We can’t wait to play as many stages and meet as many new faces as we can. Onward and upward.”
Plasma Canvas released their Self Titled album in October of 2016 and you can listen to it on all digital platforms or purchase it from their Bandcamp. Expect to see more of them in the future and be sure to catch one of their shows this summer, you won’t regret it!