Houston Calling

That name again is Mr. Plow

June 3rd, 2003 · No Comments

One of the more interesting band names I have come across is the “stoner rock” band Mr. Plow. A band that definitely doesn’t shy away from its influences, the band is one of the better rock bands in Houston.

Mr. Plow (yeah, you know where their name comes from) released their debut CD in May 2000, and is set to release a second CD this summer.

The band has an upcoming gig at Fat Cat’s (formerly Mary Jane’s) on June 20.

I recently sent the band a series of questions for Houston Calling. Enjoy.

10 Questions for Mr. Plow

HC: How did Mr. Plow get started?

Justin and Jeremy were in a band called Wormwood. Wormwood practiced near me and I would sometimes watch. During breaks I would jam with them. I was playing with some other guys at the time, but it was nothing serious. Our drummer, Dave, and I were frequently jamming on bass and drums. This was in early ’96. Wormwood’s singer, Chad, left the band, moved to Austin and started Dynamite Hack. Dynamite Hack ended up getting a big recording contract with Universal, a video on Mtv for “Boys in the Hood,” and opening for Weezer on Weezer’s big comeback tour a few years ago. So the move to Austin was a good one for Chad.

Once Wormwood disbanded, Dave and I started jamming with Jeremy and Mr. Plow was born. For a while we had no singer and Chad would drive in from Austin to help us out for shows. Eventually Jeremy decided to handle the vox duties, but he wanted Justin in the band to help with the guitar. This was in ’97 sometime. It’s been the same lineup ever since. Over the last few years Justin has begun singing on about half the songs.

HC: I assume you got your name from a classic episode of The Simpsons. What is your favorite episode?

Too many to try and pin it down to just one. The name stuck because it turns out that it’s really hard to think of a good name for a band. It’s worked out well though, because the stonerrock crowd tends to be Simpsons fans as well. People see our name on a list of names on the internet and check it out because they catch the reference. Besides, “Mr. Big” and “Mr. Mister” were already taken.

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your band?

Don’t ask me how, but we’ve been told that people don’t like our “rap rock” lyrics or style or whatever. Tongue-in-cheek double entendre doesn’t constitute rap the last time I checked. Goofy, maybe, but not rap.

HC: I hear hints of Chris Cornell and Ted Nugent in your songs. What do you consider to be your sources of inspiration?

On our next album, which we will be releasing really soon, we are seriously considering putting stickers on them that say, “File under Nugent, Ted.” We all like Soundgarden as well. The general consensus in the band is that the drum sound on Badmotorfinger is the best ever recorded. We’re also into old ZZ-Top, Black Sabbath, and some of the other classic rock giants of the slow and heavy groove. Really, most of the bands that we’re ripping off, errrr, influenced by, are other bands that are influenced by the 70s bands that I just named. Fu-Manchu, and Suplecs from New Orleans to name a couple.

Most of Mr. Plow are fans of the older Rush albums. Everyone has their quirky tastes as well.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, which song would it be and what band would cover it?

I’d like to hear Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson cover “Truck Stop Lovin’.”

HC: Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How are you using the internet as a tool to market you band?

We don’t mind people hearing us any which way they can. We don’t sell tons of CDs. I’d say most of the people out there that have got one of our CDs listened to a song or two from our site or stonerrock.com first.

I’d think it’s safe to say that nobody across the pond would have ever heard of us without the internet. As it is we occasionally get emails from people in random countries telling us to keep it up, or asking when the next album will be out or whatever. It’s what keeps us going. I think if people like your stuff, they’ll buy the CD just to have the real thing. And if they don’t like it enough to buy it but wind up burning a copy it increases the likelihood of someone else hearing it that may really like it. For us it all boils down to someone somewhere driving along and listening to one of our songs and not hating it. That’s the best.

HC: Are there any new bands out there that you like right now? Maybe Queens of the Stone Age? I think you guys together would make a great concert.

We’re BIG fans of QOTSA. If it weren’t for Kyuss, I’m sure we wouldn’t sound much like we do now. Josh Homme really has been an innovative genius since he was a teenager. If we got a chance to play with those guys we could retire happily into obscurity.

HC: What is the standard songwriting process for you guys?

It depends, really. Sometimes someone will write the whole song and just drop it in our laps at practice, sometimes someone will just have a heavy riff that they throw out to warm up on and it evolves. We generally write the music first, but not always. Lyrics are usually inspired from whatever pop-culture icons we feel like focusing on. We don’t tend to take ourselves too seriously as our real lives are way too serious. Two of the guys in the band are attorneys, I teach kids with autism and our drummer works weird hours in the radio industry. Our time together as a band is our release from the drudgery of the rest of the week. Some guys play golf, we rock. Hard to worry about work when you’re playing a song called “Festivus” really loud. And yes, that one’s about Seinfeld.

HC: Are you aware there’s another band called Mr. Plow out of Los Angeles? They have girls in their band and don’t rock nearly as hard as you guys though.

Actually, they’re from Iowa. They’ve had some success and moved to L.A in the last year or so. We’ve had some of their fans leave nasty messages on our message board. Some of their band members have contacted us in the past and they seem like nice guys. The girl is a more recent addition to their lineup. We keep hoping that they’ll blow up and try and buy the rights to the name from us. We also got to the website domain name mrplow.com first, so they’re stuck with .net. So if they or their label are listening: everything has a price! We could just switch to Plow King and most people would never know the difference anyway.

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

I’m just coming out of a Steely Dan kick. I bought a lot of their records on Ebay a while back and go through this phase semi-regularly. As far as what’s in my CD player, in the car it’s been the new QOTSA or a friend’s band Mondoz that split their time between Austin and Houston. In the gym where you must listen to headphones to be spared of dance music, I’ve been listening to Iron Maiden’s Powerslave album, just for old time’s sake. It’s really good, and it’s also really funny knowing that I’m listening to that while everyone else is pumping iron to Brittney Spears.

For more information on Mr. Plow, please visit www.mrplow.com.

Now Playing in my iPOD: The Jesus & Mary Chain — The Sound of Speed

Tags: Music