PLAIINS on Reuben: Why I Love

Fiery multinational rock quartet PLAIINS  released their latest EP, Puppet back in early July. The six songs on Puppet range from alternative rock, punk, indie, splashes of metal and post hardcore nods, showcasing their range of influences, with one constant theme – a loud voice for change. Singer and guitarist Chris Reardon from the band joins us At The Barrier on a Why I Love for the long-lamented Reuben.

I think I was about 15 when I heard Reuben for the first time and it completely blew me away. I hadn’t heard anything like that before. I was a hardcore emo at school and I remember my drummer showing me the song ‘Return of the Jedi’. It’s so in-your-face yet so melodic, it’s so simple yet so complex, the band sounded like superhero rock star musicians with a creativity out of this world. The song is broken down into multiple sections or movements and goes through a few time signature changes. I remember the drummer and me trying to figure them out (sorry I know it’s a bit nerdy) and counting out loud, laughing hysterically in awe of these guys.

Lyrically it was really touching as well. The lead singer Jamie Lenman was pouring his heart out about the struggles of being in a band, giving up on his dreams and the pain it was causing him to pursue them. It was a real dose of reality after being obsessed with bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and even punk rock bands like The Clash, Sex Pistols, blink-182, AFI, Lagwagon, Misfits, Rancid, whoever I’d been into at the time – no one was openly talking about this stuff. It opened my eyes and ripped my heart open at the same time in a good way. In my early teens I grew up in Reading in the UK and there were a lot of great upcoming bands. I was playing in bands from an early age, playing shows and recording in proper studios. The engineer there, at White House Studios actually, recorded Reuben’s first record. And it was Matthew (the engineer and very important mentor for me in many ways during those many recording sessions) who introduced the band to me and my friends. I must have missed it at the time but my drummer, far smarter than me, remembered the band’s name and went down to the nearest record store and bought their albums shortly after, spreading the word of their greatness! 

Reuben also did a great job of giving their fans a real insight into who they were. Which to be frank, were pretty weird haha! Lovable, funny and kinda nerdy. They released a lot of music videos and had a great DVD, which came with a full live concert which I watched religiously, studying it and trying my best to figure out how I could rip off a riff haha. I never could or can sadly, although I try and fail all the time!  

The band’s music clicked with me immediately. I was already getting into that scene with bands like Funeral For A Friend, The Used, Refused, At The Drive In, Taking Back Sunday, and many more. And also, many in the local scene too.But Reuben really stood out to me. I think the variety they offered also really connected with me. From songs like Stuck In My Throat to Moving To Blackwater (a town very close to where my parents live), to Missing Fingers to Song For Saturday. They just offered such variety and uniqueness. During that time there were a lot of emo bands on the rise, and I would say 80% sounded all the same, just a homogenous mud pie of poor ideas and lack of innovation. Reuben were the absolute opposite.

How the band inspired me and still inspires me I think is pretty big, especially the guitar writing to me in general and the early PLAIINS stuff. Like the first 2 EPs. One of the songs is named after a Reuben song as an ode to them. I think also in some ways the influence can be heard in the craftmanship of putting parts and sections together. The quirkiness but simple riffs. It’s kind of metal but kind of alternative rock, it’s kind of grunge but kind of punk. Ha ha – it’s very hard to describe music and art, but that’s my best attempt.

The top songs I recommend to a first time listener:
No One Wins The War, Horror Show, Stuck In My Throat, Eating Only Apples, Moving To Blackwater, Song For Saturday, Missing Fingers, Some Mothers Do Ave Em, Every Time A Teenager Listens To Drum N Bass A Rock Star Dies, Nobody Loves You, Return Of The Jedi, Blood Bunny Larkhall. There are too many but there’s a smallselection.

Sadly I never managed to see them live. The band split up I think in 2007, so I had only known about them for a short time and before I knew it they were over. I did however see the bass player working in a Waitrose supermarket shortly after they announced the band was finished, was a sad day. I remember reading Jamie the lead singer and guitarist announced he was quitting music for good to pursue graphic design. I think what was really sad was after listening and reading his lyrics, and feeling them very much, it seemed all too much for him in the end. But! He came back with a solo project (Jamie Lenman – go check it out!) which is absolutely brilliant too! Happy he’s back making music. 

Here’s the visualiser to PLAIINS’ Nothing’s Gonna End Us Till The Aliens Do It:

Our thanks to Chris for his insights on Reuben (and the plug for Jamie Lenam who we certainly rate highly!)

PLAIINS online: Facebook / Instagram / Soundcloud

You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists on an even wider array of subjects, here.

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