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Folk-Rock Trio Plume Giant Offer Up a Harmonious Debut

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Sometimes things just fall into place. You could put it down to fate or simply excellent timing. Regardless, the fact that Yale University students, Nolan Green, Eliza Bagg, and Oliver Hill met at school and became friends could certainly be described as fortuitous. A combination of this trio’s talent, personality and drive spurred their creative process and Plume Giant was the result. Of course there’s more to the story. There always is. The fact of the matter is: these guys are good.

It’s hard to believe Plume Giant is just beginning their musical journey. Their harmonies are so tight, you would think they’d been singing together for years.

Take a listen to their six song self-titled CD and I promise you will be impressed by the maturity of the writing and musicianship. These are modern day troubadours who create quirky folk-pop melodies that stay with you long after the CD has ended. “I’m On Drugs” is a love song with a lazy psychedelic edge. “Fool Hall” is an upbeat, bluegrass style tune with a lovely fiddle hook. “Black Cat” could be an updated version of an old time blues tune. But it is an original. The three other songs on this (much too short) release are equally as strong.

I had the opportunity to interview Nolan via email to find out more about Plume Giant’s origin and aspirations.

You guys sound like you’ve been singing together forever. Can you give a little history of Plume Giant? How did you meet and when did you officially become ‘a band’?

Thanks – to be honest we haven’t been a band for all that long. That said, Plume Giant really came together this past spring (2010) when Eliza came on board. Oliver and I had been arranging tunes together since the fall but they were all over the place – I mean really all over the place.

It wasn’t until we got Eliza singing with us that we found the sound we were going for. Having three voices and the strings opened up a totally new way of writing for us so it was pretty exciting. Don’t be fooled though, it didn’t really lock in right away. It took some time to find the right blend and that’s still something that we’re constantly working to improve. Since getting back after summer break we’ve basically been playing music together every day.

Where are you from?

Eliza is from Durham, North Carolina, Oliver, from Pleasantville, New York, and I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Were you in bands prior to coming to Yale?

Oliver and I were both in bands at our respective high schools before coming to Yale, but nothing as involved as Plume Giant, just the sort of recreational writing songs and putting on shows every once in a while.

In your bio, you say there is no frontman. Is there a primary songwriter? If not, what is your writing process? Do you find that you call each other in the middle of the day (or night) with ideas?

Oliver and I do most of the writing but the finished Plume sound itself is definitely the result of a collaborative process. Usually Oliver or I will have a song about 70% of the way there before bringing it to the group. Then the three of us will sit around and fix the parts of the song that are weak (a boring melody, crummy lyrics, etc..). After that we all come up with the harmonies together, sometimes in an actual rehearsal setting but usually in the car, while walking around, or cooking dinner.

Please give a rundown of who plays what instruments.

On most songs, either Oliver or I play guitar and Eliza plays violin. If Oliver’s not playing guitar he’ll play viola. All three of us sing. Occasionally we’ll bring in other instruments that we each play but probably not worth mentioning for the moment.

Who are a few artists and/or groups who’ve inspired you to make music?

The Beatles, Nick Drake, Bill Callahan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young…the usual cast of characters.

What are you guys majoring in? Do you think you’ll continue making music after you graduate?

Oliver and Eliza are music majors. I’m an economics major. We all plan to keep making lots of music after graduating.

Plume Giant is an interesting name. Can you explain its origin?

Oliver and I spent one afternoon in the Stacks paging through books and jotting down words we liked. We found the ‘plume’ and ‘giant’ separately in some Whitman poems, put them together, and thought it felt right. 

Any plans for a full length release?

Yep, there’s definitely talk of it but for now we’re really focusing on playing lots of shows and getting the EP into as many hands as possible.

What are your long term goals and aspirations for the band?

One of the most encouraging things about the group dynamic right now is that we’re all on the same page – just kind of doing what we’re doing and waiting to see where it goes. Whatever happens, we loving making music together, think it’s pretty good, and want as many people as possible to hear it.

Plume Giant’s self titled debut is available on Amazon, iTunes and
their website.

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About Mindy Peterman