But for anyone who happened to hear the band perform at Lutefest this past Saturday, the Plagiarists are no longer just a slightly sophisticated campus band. Instead, they have morphed into a muscular rock outfit that cranks out their particular brand of enthusiastic pop with precision, energy and passion.
The rapid maturation of the Plagiarists live show is impressive. Even more astounding is the band's ability to translate that growth onto the group's first album, Veto. Recorded in just over one week, Veto swaggers and swoons, with careful attention to song-craft balancing the group's tendency to swell their simple pop songs to conclusion with swirling, distortion-heavy crescendos.
The strength of the group derives from its work ethic. Every morning over Spring Break, we would wake up around 8 a.m., eat cereal, drink some juice and speed to our destination. Then we would record for eight hours straight every day, singer and guitarist Eric Wilson 08 said.
The group recorded the album in the Afternoon Records Studio, which Ian Anderson '07 runs out of his friend's basement in St. Louis Park. Anderson, who produced the record and also owns Afternoon Records, signed the group to his label after they won St. Olaf's Battle of the Bands earlier in the school year.
We hooked up with Ian [Anderson] last year through his first-year roommate, Eric-
through him. This is also when we were starting to practice as a band, so he knew about us (the Plagiarists) right away.
The group recorded a four-song demo over the summer with Anderson, the expectation being that after the band polished its sound a bit and added a few more songs to their arsenal, they would be ready to record a full-length album.
Veto is really the culmination of those efforts, which included the addition of keyboard Golle and the composition of five new songs: Basically, if we wanted to record an album, we needed 10 songs. So, we wrote more songs, Witte said.
The new songs on Veto are the most exciting. Tunes like The Breeze and Hooks effortlessly alternate between carefully orchestrated pop rock and manic guitar crunch. Brendan Golle's tasteful blasts of synthesizer merge with Wille's reverb-laden guitar parts to create a compelling and richly textured soundscape. The closing track, The Subway System is a Nightmare, finds Wille dramatically soloing over Golle's creamy keyboards, the rest of the band crashing beneath them. The entire record, both old and new songs alike, is pristine in both production and execution, which is not surprising given the band's attention to detail during the recording process.
When we were recording the album each person would lay down their individual parts and we would all sit on this yellow couch and say yay or nay to each part. We got pretty comfortable with that couch by the end of the week, Wilson said. However arduous the process, the band obviously knew what sort of tracks they needed to lay down, and it shows.
Then, of course, they had to call the album something. The band had a list of over a hundred possible titles for the record, most of them unsatisfactory.
We either had something super serious or something really goofy that no one but us would understand. Eric wrote down all the possible names, and every time he would read one off, Mike [Witte] would yell out 'Veto!' and chop his hand into the air. It was funny as hell, and our best option, Wergeland said.
The group also enlisted the help of another St. Olaf student, Ellen Roth '08, to produce the album's artwork.
It's a real St. Olaf effort, I guess, Wille said.
Now, with the album mastered and ready for release, the band has scheduled their CD release party for May 13 in the Pause. After that, the group plans to play as many gigs as possible and gear up for one-week tour of the Midwest at the end of the August. The album already has considerable local buzz around it: Drive 105 has spun The Breeze on its homegrown music show, and the Northfield News and Star Tribune South are running features on the band this week in anticipation of the release of Veto.
The little bit of attention we've been getting is weird, but cool. We want people to hear this album, so we're going to play lots of gigs and have fun, Wilson said.