Behind Punk is a D.I.Y. punk blog/fanzine/record label based out of Moscow

We need to focus on positive change in the world, and it starts with our scene and the people within it. More hugs, less shrugs!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Interview with Brian McGee of Plow United

Brian McGee - Guitar/Vocals
Joel Tannenbaum - Bass/ Vocals
Sean Rule - Drums/Vocals


"Plow started playing punk rock in 1992. For the first couple years they played at farmers markets and pizza places all over the West Chester, PA area. They released their first seven-inch in 1994 then they made more vinyl, purchased their beloved van Sadi, and embarked on their first tour. In 1995, they were forced to change their name to Plow United by some band from Baltimore. At the start of 1997 Sean began to teach high school math and the boys decided to call it quits. They played a heartwarming final show in Philadelphia in front of over 400 of their friends that had been there from the beginning."

I’m happy to finally be posting  interview with Brian McGee of Plow United. In the interview we discusses their upcoming REUNION SHOW at Riot Fest East, feature plans and more. I hope you enjoy.
Thanks to Brian who was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions. 
Read up it bellow.

Hey Brian! how are you?

I am well. I am responding from a cafe in Cambridge, MA.  I am out on tour with another songwriter named Pj Bond and we are in the last week of a three week tour.  How are you? 

I'm fine, thanks. It's probably appropriate to start the interview off by letting those that don't know that Plow United is playing a reunion show in Philadelphia in mid-September. How did this all come about, and did everyone feel like it was time to get the band back together?

The reunion came about when I got a call last week from Creep Records.  They said that Riot Fest was interested in having us play the one day punk rock festival.  When we saw the line-up, when it would be held and where, and that we had enough time to pull it off and how much fun it would be... we were in.  The last show we played was in 1998.  In those thirteen years since that show, we have received lots of offers to play a reunion show but always turned it down.  Logistically it would have been difficult with the three of us living far away from each other-Sean in Oregon, Joel in Philly and myself in North Carolina.  But now, with myself moving to New Jersey this fall and with some help to bring Sean in from OR, a handful of people are making it easy for us to do this and we're excited about it. 

Has practice started yet for the reunion show? How much, if any, rust was there, and if you haven't practiced yet what are the expectations?

No rehearsal has started yet, but I know there is plenty of rust in there for all three of us.  We mostly expect to have a blast.

Plow United has a very extensive playlist covering numerous albums. How many songs are you planning on playing, and how are you going to choose them?

We are going to pick a pile of songs to work out and focus on delivering them respectfully. We're also going to work up a couple of my solo tunes from my recent album, The Taking Or The Leaving. We've probably got 45 minutes to play which is longer than most shows we've ever played. We'll see what happens.

Is this show going to be a one time deal, or are there any other plans for the band to stay together in the future? May be are you recording something new?

Right now this show is a one time deal in the way that further bookings will be hinged on us delivering a great show.  We would like to play more dates in the future, but we do need to take it one show at a time. I have total confidence that we will bring our "A" game to the festival.

Stepping away from the reunion show, it's been years since the band has been together. I know you have solo project(Brian Mcgee), did anyone else go on to any other bands?

Joel is currently playing drums in an Indie-pop band called Glitter.  Here is their bandcamp page-
Sean is playing drums in an ska/funk/dub band called Necktie Killer

How long have you been playing in bands? What's your motivation and how has it changed over the years?

I've been playing in bands since I was 14 when my cousin's and I started a band.  Since then I've played in a couple punk bands, a couple square dance/contra dance bands and now with my own solo project.  And although the music from project to project has been different, the motivation to express myself and reach people through music has never changed.  Out of all the art forms that exist, music (in all it's different genres) is the one that seems to reach everyone on the planet.
I love writing songs and performing.  And if I manage to say something in a song that someone can relate to, or put into words a sentiment or feeling that someone could not do or didn't know that they felt, then I did my job and a connection has been made.  It's pretty overwhelming to work on a song at home, record it, perform it, and have it out in the world and then have someone tell you how much that song means to them.

Do you think it's necessary for independent musicians and bands to have a form of ethics? 

I think it's important for people in general to have a form of ethics.  The problem is that ethics collide and that sometimes leads to uncomfortable/unfortunate circumstances.  But for musicians, I think it's important to try and understand why you do what you do and what you expect from it and don't screw anyone over at the end of the day.  Personally I try and be a decent human to everyone I meet at shows.  The world doesn't need another asshole musician.  There are plenty out there.  
I also do not ask unreasonable prices for performances and merchandise with where I'm at in my career.  At the same time, I try not to get ripped off.

I was actually going to ask you what you were listening to lately. What are your favorite recent releases?

Lately I've been really into The Black Keys album "Brothers", Jessica Lee Mayfield "Tell Me", The Felice Brothers "Celebration Florida", John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff "Leaving Yesterday", Gillian Welch "The Harrow & The Harvest", The Gaslight Anthem "American Slang."

What's the scene like in North Carolina and more generally throughout the U.S.? Any cool bands you think people should check out?

The scene in and around Asheville NC is pretty spread out.  There is a healthy indie rock scene, a small but good punk/hardcore scene, hippie jamband scene, Bluegrass/old timey/country scene.  Some of the local Asheville, NC acts that should not be missed are The Reigning Sound, Electric Owls, Lovett, Matt Evans, Do It To Julia, Mimi Bell, Ice Cream, The Honeycutters and Floating Action 

Have you heard Spraynard?

No, but their name as come up a couple times recently. I believe there is some West Chester/Philly connection and I look forward to hearing them.

What do you do outside of music?

Outside of playing music, I do a little woodworking for a friend at his shop.  I also enjoy going to see live music, Pilates, walking my dog, working on guitars, watching Treme, and most of all hanging with my wife.

 What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?

To be totally honest-I have not kept up all that much.  But in general, from what I've observed recently and from what I can recall from the past... the fact that it is still male dominated is kind of annoying, but hell outside of child birth most things are.  I'm not a fan of the jock-mosh pit stuff.  No one should go to a show and get accidently kicked in the face.  Another thing is how judgemental people can be in that scene that usually tries to pride itself on being open minded.  There are personalities within the scene that want to tell others how to live..... it doesn't make any sense.

What were for you personally the best and worst moments of 2010? What are your plans for 2011?

The best thing that happened to me in 2010 was getting laid off from my job.  I know that is usually not a good thing for most people, but it helped me to reevaluate what I wanted to focus harder on, which was my music.  So I went into the studio, recorded an album and release something that I feel really great about.  For worst moments.... ah, I seemed to have forgotten about those.  For 2011, I will be moving to NJ with my wife so she can attend Rutgers University and work on getting her MFA.  I hope to continue touring and working on new songs and work on guitars.  I'd also like to figure out how to tour the UK and Europe.

Thanks for your time. Do you have any last words/wishes?

I just want to let Plow United fans, the world over, know that the three of us appreciate all the support you've shown us and might continue to show us in the future.  We are really excited to play Riot Fest East and hope to play to as many of you as we can.  Thanks again and take care of each other out there.


  1. Wooo Plow United!!!! Best Band ever! Never thought this would happen, time for the new testament!

  2. this is seriously the best thing that ever happened to me.