Published: 5 July, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
Earlier this year A Plastic Rose played to crowds of up to 34,000 supporting Snow Patrol at the 02 Arena, yet when we speak to them at home in Belfast, drummer David is slumming it with a chicken and mushroom Pot Noodle.
“We were just talking about us living the high life – absolutely loving it, everything’s amazing. We’re a real band, apart from one thing – no money and David is proving that now by eating a Pot Noodle and we’re not even on tour,” says singer Gerry Norman.
The band have played some gigantic gigs since coming to the attention of Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, who championed them in his Q Magazine column and invited them to support his band on tour after seeing them play to a half-empty room in Belfast.
“I was a bit worried because we’re kind of a hybrid between heavy and soft.” says Gerry. “I thought the heavy stuff might put him off. After Christmas we got a call saying ‘You’ve been asked to support Snow Patrol in Belfast’. Then the rest of the conversation went ‘also the 02 in London’. That’s when the face hit the floor.”
The four-piece, who play Barfly on July 20 and whose single Boy Racer is out now, have played Camden many times, usually staying with Gerry’s auntie Mary in Belsize Park.
On a recent visit they received an unfriendly reception in Primrose Hill. “I like to hunt Banksys,” says Gerry. “It’s a hobby of mine when we’re in London.
I brought the lads to the Banksy protected by Perspex, the old granny in Primrose Hill.
We were taking photos and this mad woman started giving out to us.
She was saying ‘You guys are all that’s wrong with society these days. There’s an old lady walking past you and you wouldn’t talk to her and you’re getting your photo with this’. There was literally a screaming match in the street with this crazy woman. We’d only been in London about two hours and played the 02 Arena that night and we were like this is going to be a weird day lads.”
The band – whose gigs are not unknown to feature Irish Dance mosh pits – originated nearly a decade ago when Gerry met Ian McHugh at an open mic night in Sligo, the same town Westlife are from.
“Yes we went to school with them, they were a couple of years ahead of us,” says Gerry, “they’ve split up so Sligo needs a new band – we can change our music, get a bit more ballady.
“Me and Ian musically fell in love, looked each other in the eyes, and went ‘I love what you’re doing’. We were both doing the same kind of thing in a scene that was folk, we were into alt rock music.”
After starting a band, there was an interlude as Ian went to college in Belfast while Gerry headed to Edinburgh.
“After a while I rang Ian and said ‘are you ready to do this yet because I am’. So I broke up with the girlfriend, fled the country and started a band.”
Next, came bassist Troy Heaton – a friend they didn’t even know could play. “We needed a bass guitar to give to Enda [on loan from Genera Fiasco] and we found out Troy had one. We found out he was good so we went for a practice and he was unbelievable, probably the best player we’d ever seen.”
The line-up was completed by drummer David Reid, found on a music forum “he was the first drummer that could actually keep time and the girls like him,” says Gerry.
An educated bunch, Gerry says they’re all geniuses apart from himself: “Dave studied marine biology. You wanna see Davey when we were in Brighton, picking up stones on the beach, fascinated with them, saying ‘oh lads you don’t know how rare this stone is’.
He loves little stones on beaches and fish and all that kind of crap. Troy studied biomedical science – I can’t even spell it and Ian has a degree in architecture. I’ve got a diploma in industrial design, I work in a record company now and what I learned in college has kind of helped me.”