From: WC,South Africa
“The future is coming / picking up speed” implores Rory Eliot, lead singer of Plush. It is a line in the middle of the fifth song off the band’s third and latest studio album, Rage On. It would be easy to miss, but for the resonating relevance. It explodes from the very heart of the album, an inspired eleven-track reflection on self-discovery, and succinctly sums up the state of one of South Africa’s most celebrated bands.
Destiny is a theme so pronounced that it is the very spirit of the album, and destiny is where the compelling journey now seems sure to take the band. Through both remarkable success and numbing tragedy, the road has been anything but easy, but the release of their comeback album to widespread acclaim, sold-out shows and growing international interest indicates that their time is now.
Plush first flickered on the South African music map back in 2003. Alongside lead guitarist Chas Smit’s creative flair, Eliot’s songwriting ability and natural charisma merged seamlessly to produce songs such as Tainted, which hit No.1 on TuksFM, and Today and My Baby which received regular radio play, the latter getting airtime on MTV. Described as “so unbelievably tight that they sound as though they are one masterful musician, playing two guitars, with four arms and one almighty voice”, Plush were known for their masterful live gigs, exhibitions of incredible musicianship, as well as a message that was simple, heartfelt and uplifting. Then the unthinkable, as their initial rocket ride ended tragically when Smit was killed by an alleged drunk driver when attempting to cross a street in Pietermaritzburg in September 2005.
Engulfed by grief, Eliot took a six month sabbatical before returning as a solo artist, determined to fulfill a promise he’d made to Smit that they would make it. His journey was one not meant to be undertaken alone, however, and soon Peters and Gassibe and then Wegelin pledged their future to ensuring that the promise and potential of Plush did not end in tragedy.
The group released their first single in two years, When Grace Grew Tall, in early 2007 and received an immediate response. In addition to charting and receiving high rotation on a number of radio stations, the song shot to No 1 on 5fm’s Hi5@5, where it remained for four weeks and was downloaded thousands of times.
An increasing repertoire of new tracks saw sell-out crowds and packed venues all over Cape Town as word of Plush’s return spread. Not content with their Mother City conquest, the band’s comprehensive touring schedule saw them earn major followings in Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
The national effort went global in August of 2007 when the band embarked on a historic and highly successful tour of the United Kingdom in August of 2007. Focusing primarily on London, the band played nine shows in 10 days to sold-out venues of crowds comprising nostalgic South African expatriates as well as a whole new British audience. Reviews were gushing and interest in the band was sustained, to the extent that a return tour in July 2008 yielded a similar outcome.
Commercial interest has also been kindled. Partnerships with brands as diverse as Snatch 22 clothing, K-Swiss shoes and Apple computers have been notably successful, with the band’s significant and growing appeal amongst young South Africans emerging from tertiary institutions ensuring a platform into a vital, multi-racial and economically mobile sector.
2008 was an excellent year for Plush. In addition to selling thousands of albums, having two number 1 singles, touring nationally and internationally playing over 180 shows, they signed a licence agreement with independent label, Sheer. 2009 was an even better year for the band as they maintained high rotation on radio stations across South Africa with singles ‘Hope’, ‘Life’ and ‘Halo’. With a sold out South African tour completed at the beginning of 2009 and many sold out London shows during the course of the year, the band shows no signs of slowing down. In addition, front man Rory Eliot, has just completed a Masters Degree in Songwriting at Bath Spa University in England.
The combination of emotion, passion and determination have fueled Plush’s musical journey. The same combination has also meant it’s always been more than just songs. For many, it is the soundtrack to their lives.
And that is why this is a band that does not have fans. This is a band that inspires a movement.
Are you in?