The Dark Plains: The Wavelength Interview

The Dark Plains is a new band featuring Matt Deline and Andy Cant, formerly of Shotmaker and Okara, respectively, amongst numerous other great bands from the Ottawa scene. Having such influential figures in punk/hardcore – not just in Canada, but worldwide – unveil a new project is a momentous occasion indeed. They play tonight (Dec. 6) at Soybomb, and we got Soy-boss Jason Wydra to reach out to Matt Deline (bass/vocals) to find out more about The Dark Plains and how they got from then to now.

You guys were (separately) in two of the most influential bands I can think of when it comes to the state of modern hardcore/emo/screamo/whatever. Shotmaker and Okara, being each other’s contemporaries at a very important time and place. So first question is, what have you guys been up to in the last 20 years? Can you list off all the projects that you guys have been a part of? Chronologically? Leaving nothing out?

For me, the music path is as follows… Shotmaker, 30 Second Motion Picture, Three Penny Opera, Slow parker, Makeshift, The Grey, The Weathermakers, and now this band. There’s been some very short-lived projects scattered in there as well. I’ve also recorded about seven or eight solo records, some of which sound like some stuff I’ve done in the past and some that are on a completely different path. Chuck, our newest member, has been in a few of these projects as well.

Being part of a driven DIY hardcore movement when you guys were pretty young, are there lessons that you carry to this day in your
current work?

I think we carry a lot of those lessons with us. For us, playing music is getting together making some noise and hanging out. This band, like a lot of the other bands I have done, exists on a very small level and doing everything around the band is easy to just do it yourself. We grew up that way so it is a comfortable fit.

I hear some of you are now fathers. How has this shaped your punk-rock and post-punk-rock lives? To be honest, offspring is usually an
impetus for people quitting music pursuits. How has this balance been struck? And do you ever bring your kids to your shows?

I’m the only one with kids in the band, they are now 16 and 19. Again, most of the bands I have played in have been on the smaller level, so fitting it within my life has been pretty easy. I think for my kids they just grew up with Dad practicing in the house and playing shows etc. etc., so it is nothing out of the ordinary for them. They have been to shows when they were smaller and more recently they have come to see The Dark Plains, so that is fun. They hear us every week when we practice, so it’s not a complete mystery to them. Kade my youngest is really into music, as far as going to shows and stuff, so maybe we rub off a bit on our kids.

Looking back at Shotmaker/Okara and then the bands that followed, the sounds appear to soften on their way to Slow Parker. But in Dark Plains, it’s turned more energetic and a little more aggressive… What changed?

We have always been into loud music, so when we got together and started, loud is where it went. There was never a set plan it was and is a very casual approach as far as the sound goes.

One of the distinct things I remember from the mid-‘90s/5 Arlington [legendary Ottawa DIY venue] days was a pretty active social justice/radical politics vibe. It was prevalent at punk/hardcore shows all across Southern Ontario. I won’t ask you specifically about your leanings relevant to these ideals then or even now, but are there maybe specific things you took away from those experiences that still resonate now?

I won’t go into specifics, but every point in your life influences other parts of your life and you carry parts along with you on your journey. So needless to say, my time involved in playing music has had a big impact on my politics and other aspects of my life. We look at things differently at 42, but those experiences of our youth have weight.

I could ask a million questions but I better keep it simple… so let’s get to the “meat.” Are there still a number of other projects you guys are active in?

Chuck, our newest member, is in another band, but for Andy and myself, this is our only band.

When is there going to be a “release” for Dark Plains? What are the plans/expectations for the band?

We plan on hitting the studio sometime in the winter, but who knows what will come of that. As far as plans, they consist of getting together once a week to practice — that’s about it.

And I think the important question that every Canadian DIY / independent band must ask themselves… If Neil Young asked you guys to
open a tour for him… would you?

I’m not a huge Neil Young myself, but if the other guys wanted to do it, I guess I would go along.

Cheers Matt, and I’m really looking forward to the show — it is honestly an honour having you guys in the Soybomb space!

The Dark Plains play Soybomb (156 Bathurst St.) tonight, Saturday Dec. 6, 2014. Doors at 9pm, $10 admission.