NewTracks New Artist: Plastic

NewTracks New Artist: Plastic

It was eight years ago that Five Mile Town, a whip-smart trio of 17-year old Aucklanders, released their self-titled debut EP. Only a year later the now four-piece were domiciled in Melbourne and working towards the release of their sophomore alt-rock EP. ‘Other Ghosts’ boasted seven tracks covering the raw energy, artistic yearning and self-discovery of youth, the songs revealing a mature grasp of the songwriter’s art and some fine musicianship. September 2020 sees the release of Baby Steps, heralding a debut album from a band called Plastic – those same four Kiwi musicians plus a new compadre. The song is featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this September. Maybe it’s an in-joke because baby steps are one thing these guys have never seemingly embraced.

What’s your name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Hello, my name is Ryan Wilson and I am originally from Pukekohe, south Auckland, but have been based out of Melbourne/Naarm for the past 7 years. I play the drums in the band.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I had been playing the drums long before high school but my school had a practical music course in which you had to learn a secondary instrument. I took up the saxophone. It certainly broadened my understanding of music theory and jazz.

Any other projects might we know you from?

I have my hands in a lot of pots at the moment but played for New Zealand hardcore band Saving Grace, based out of Gisborne. I perform under my name Ryan Berkeley, and in another group called Lush Life alongside Horatio Luna and On-Ly (fellow Melbourne musos).

What’s the background story of how Plastic came to be? 

When the band was based in New Zealand in our early years we went by the name Five Mile Town. It was originally four of us but upon moving here we met our great friend Lewis Coleman who came on board (pardon the keys pun). With a new member and given our sound was changing rapidly, we decided a new name was needed as we made our way in our new home. 

Plastic is made up of the five of us. Louis McDonald plays guitar and sings, Adam Quigley on guitar, Levi Heeringa on bass and Lewis Coleman on keys. 

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I think the main way it has changed is by the instruments we are using now compared to our early years. 

How and when did you come up with the name for the new project?

Louis was brainstorming names and once Plastic had been said, it stuck. It was one of the names the more we said it, the more it made sense. 

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date? 

The reception of Baby Steps has been awesome, it’s been rewarding sharing our work from the last two years. It’s been a minute since we played a real-life gig due to current restrictions in Melbourne, but before all of this we played some great gigs at The Tote and our single launch at Nighthawks.

What makes Baby Steps stand out for you as a single?

It was hard to pick a single as there were a few that stood out to us. But Baby Steps ended up being the best fit to debut the album’s aesthetic. It certainly encapsulates a lot of the sounds on the album in three and a half minutes. 

What is the story behind Baby Steps?

The song started with the chorus guitar part and developed from there. It sure took a long time to get the groove sitting right! 

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Personally I love the bridge. Once it breaks down and we go into cruise control. The computer voice saying “sit down” is another highlight for me

Who did you record/produce the single with and where? 

We recorded the single and the whole album at our studio VCS with our friend Henry Jenkins. He is a killer engineer, musician and friend. We recorded it over a few weekends, spaced months and months apart.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Hopefully you get the tune stuck in your head and take it away with you!

Is there anyone else in your team?

At the moment it is just the five of us on our core team. We’ve been working with Sam from Spoilsport Records to release the record, which has been amazing. 

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

The impending release of our album ‘New Hands’ in a few weeks. Personally I’m working on a solo EP, the next release on my label Love Above Records LAR002 – coming out in December. My other group Lush Life has an EP coming out on Tribe Records towards the end of the year also. 

Got any advice for others out there regarding NZOA applications? 

Just keep doing your thing! If you can own what you do well enough people will start to take notice. It can take some time so be prepared for that though!

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

We’ve always been self-managed, so knowing exactly how to implement the release strategy has been tough. We’ve learned from experience and talking to other friends and musicians further down the track.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Beat Magazine here in Melbourne is a great publication and an easy way of keeping up to date with who’s who and what’s on. Always find myself gravitating towards the KEXP live sessions or the Tiny Desk Concerts. Endless viewing material. 


New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand on Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.

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