Joel Plaskett talking with fans at the 2011 Vancouver International Folk Music Festival
April 18, 1975 |
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
|Origin||Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada|
|Genres||Indie rock, folk rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, drums, mandolin, keyboards|
|Labels||MapleMusic Recordings, New Scotland|
|Associated acts||Thrush Hermit, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Neuseiland|
Joel Plaskett (born April 18, 1975) is a Canadian rock musician originally from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. He first rose to prominence as a member of Halifax alternative rock band Thrush Hermit in the 1990s, transforming himself through the first decade of the 21st century from an admired regional musician to a "nationally adored" icon. Plaskett is comfortable playing in an eclectic array of genres, from blues and folk to hard rock, country, and pop.
Plaskett is based in Dartmouth, and his songwriting frequently contains allusions to his home city. With his band The Emergency, he has toured throughout North America and Europe with such performers as The Tragically Hip, Sloan and Kathleen Edwards.
Plaskett spent his formative years in Lunenburg, a fishing village on Nova Scotia's South Shore. His father, Bill Plaskett, is also a musician. Bill was a cofounder of the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival. Plaskett learned to play guitar and write songs while listening to an eclectic range of music, from singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young to rockers such as the Sex Pistols and the Pixies.
Plaskett's family moved to Halifax when he was 12; by the next year, he had formed his first band with friends Rob Benvie and Ian McGettigan. Initially they called themselves Nabisco Fonzie. It took a while for the group to settle on a name and a configuration but by 1992, they were a foursome called Thrush Hermit, with Michael Catano on drums.
Plaskett was the lead singer and guitarist for the Halifax-based band Thrush Hermit. Catano was replaced by drummer Cliff Gibb in 1994, the same year the band was signed to Murderecords. After two EPs, the group went on to release its full-length debut on Elektra in 1997--Sweet Homewrecker, which was recorded in Memphis with producer Doug Easley. The album did not do well commercially, and they were dropped by their label. The band would record one more album, Clayton Park, for Sonic Unyon Records, before quitting in 1999.
In late 1998, Neuseiland was formed by Plaskett of Thrush Hermit, as well as members of popular Halifax bands The Super Friendz and Coyote, the Euphonic, both of which had also recently broken up. Taking the name of the band from a Dutch children's book by Annie Schmidt called The Island of Nose, the band consisted of Plaskett on drums, Charles Austin and Drew Yamada on guitar, Andrew Glencross on keyboard and Tim Stewart on bass. They cited King Tubby, Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Ray's Chicken Pita and Willie Nelson as influences. The goal of the band was to mix conventional song structure with experimentation inspired by krautrock, stoogian protoplasm and the subtractive mixing techniques of "version" reggae. The band released one album, the self-titled Neuseiland, recorded and released in 1999.
Solo work and the Emergency
After the breakup of Thrush Hermit and Neuseiland, Plaskett embarked on a solo career. His first release, In Need of Medical Attention, consisted of leftover songs that were written near the end of his days in Thrush Hermit. It was well received by critics, but not until the release of 2001's Down at the Khyber did Plaskett begin to enjoy more widespread acclaim. Khyber was a harder-rocking album that featured a new backing band, The Emergency, consisting of Plaskett, drummer Dave Marsh and bass player Tim Brennan. Together they called themselves Joel Plaskett Emergency. The album earned Plaskett a Juno Award nomination as best new artist.
The band's next album, Truthfully Truthfully, in 2003, was Plaskett's first all-out commercial success. It was produced by his old Thrush Hermit band mate McGettigan and was the band's debut release for MapleMusic Recordings. The album featured the song "Come On, teacher," which became a hit in Canada. The album later received an East Coast Music Award as best rock recording.
Plaskett's follow-up album was a solo effort, called La De Da, on which he played most of the instruments himself (McGettigan, however, played bass). Plaskett consciously sought a different sound for La De Da than he did for his previous effort; he considered it a record more for himself than for commercial radio. The album was released in 2005 and earned two East Coast Music Awards in 2006, as Male Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, for the song "Happen Now." He was also nominated for a Juno Award for songwriter of the year that year and was named male artist of the year and songwriter of the year at the East Coast Music Awards.
In March 2006, Joel Plaskett Emergency released their first DVD, Make a Little Noise. It included an EP of three songs. The single "Nowhere with You" has received the most mainstream radio airplay of any Plaskett release to date, and was featured in a Zellers television commercial. Make a Little Noise had three wins at the 2007 East Coast Music Awards: DVD of the year, single of the year ("Nowhere with You"), and songwriter of the year (Joel Plaskett, for "Nowhere with You").
The band's next album was Ashtray Rock, released in April 2007. A concept album about high school love and suffering Ashtray Rock was on the shortlist for the 2007 Polaris Music Prize, but lost to Patrick Watson's album Close to Paradise. The album's single "Fashionable People" was nominated for the 8th Annual Independent Music Awards for pop/rock song of the year.
During the week of December 10, 2007, Plaskett and the Emergency played six consecutive shows at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto as part of the music venue's 60th-anniversary celebrations. Each night, a different album was performed in its entirety, starting with In Need of Medical Attention on Monday and finishing with Ashtray Rock on Friday night and Saturday night.
Another solo album came next: the album Three, which was released on March 24, 2009. It consists of three discs each consisting of nine songs for a total of 27 songs. The first single from the album was "Through and Through and Through." The triple album was nominated for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize short list. In the same week that the Polaris shortlist was announced, Paul McCartney announced that he had selected Plaskett and the band Wintersleep as the opening acts for his concert of July 11 at Halifax Common. Three won adult alternative album of the year at the 2010 Junos; Plaskett was also nominated for songwriter of the year.
In May 2011, he became the first artist ever to reach one million plays on CBC Radio 3's online music streaming site, and released an exclusive acoustic version of "Nowhere with You" to the network for the occasion. In June, he released a B-sides and rarities compilation titled EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations.
The band returned for the 2012 Joel Plaskett Emergency album Scrappy Happiness, released in March. The album followed a unique release strategy, in which Plaskett and his band recorded one song each week for ten weeks, releasing each song to iTunes for sale as a single as soon as its recording and production were completed, and then rereleased the songs as a complete album once the project was concluded.
In recent years, Plaskett has embarked upon a number of projects. He has acted as record producer for a variety of Atlantic Canadian artists, including Steve Poltz, David Myles, Mo Kenney, Sarah Slean, and Meredith Shaw. As well, in 2004 he made his television debut as a rock coach on the CBC Television documentary series Rock Camp. In 2008, Plaskett and his father Bill were featured in an episode of the Bravo! television concert series The Berkeley Sessions.
Plaskett also appeared as a busker in the film One Week. and was a guest anchor on the March 5, 2013 episode of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. A collaboration with CBC Kids in 2012 resulted in a music video for an alternate rendition of Plaskett's "Fashionable People", recast from the original song's satirical portrait of hipsters into a song about how fun it is to play dress-up. Fellow East Coast Canadian musician Classified (Luke Boyd) featured Plaskett on his single "One Track Mind" from his 2009 release, Self Explanatory.
- 1994: Smart Bomb, EP
- 1995: The Great Pacific Ocean, EP
- 1997: Rock and Roll Detective, EP
- 1997: Sweet Homewrecker
- 1999: Clayton Park
- 1999: Neuseiland
- 1999: In Need of Medical Attention
- 2005: La De Da
- 2009: Three
- 2009: Three More (EP)
- 2010: Three to One (UK)
- 2015: The Park Avenue Sobriety Test
- 2017: Solidarity (with Bill Plaskett)
- 2001: Down at the Khyber
- 2003: Truthfully Truthfully
- 2006: Make a Little Noise (DVD/EP)
- 2007: Ashtray Rock
- 2011: EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations
- 2012: Scrappy Happiness
|2006||"Nowhere With You"||Make a Little Noise|
|2011||"Jimmie's Still Jimmie"||26||25||Jimmie's Still Jimmie / That's Not Joel (with Shotgun Jimmie)|
|2012||"Transit Strike"||—||48||Non-album single|
|"You're Mine"||38||40||Scrappy Happiness|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
Awards and achievements
- Juno Awards
- 2010 – Adult Alternative Album of the Year – Three (won)
- 2010, 2008, 2006 – Songwriter of the Year (nomination)
- 2004 – Best Alternative Album of the Year – La De Da (nomination)
- 2002 – Best New Artist of the Year – Down at the Khyber (nomination)
- Billboard World Song Contest
- 2008 – Pop Category, "Fashionable People" (won)
- Great American Song Contest
- 2009 – Pop Category, "Face of the Earth" (won)
- 2008 – Pop Category, "Fashionable People" (won)
- 2006 – Pop Category,"Nowhere with You" (won)
- Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
- Burke, Andrew. "Joel Plaskett Biography". Musician Biographies. Las Vegas, Nevada: Net Ideas LLC. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- Duffy, Rob (May 22, 2012). "Concert Review: Joel Plaskett gets the crowd moving in Toronto". The National Post. Don Mills, Ontario: Postmedia Network Inc.
- "Joel Plaskett". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto, Ontario: Historica-Dominion. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
- "Joel Plaskett’s new album is a veritable kitchen party". The Globe and Mail, March 13, 2015.
- Gillis, Carla (March 24–31, 2010). "Thrush Hermit flies again". NOW. Toronto.
- "The story of the band called Thrush Hermit". www.maplemusic.com. Toronto, Ontario: MapleMusic Ltd. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- Wittchen, Tara Lee (October 23, 2003). "The East Coast survivor". www.ffwdweekly.com. Calgary, Alberta: Fast Forward Weekly.
- "Neuseiland". cbcmusic.ca. CBC Radio-Canada. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- Edey, Noel (September 12, 2012). "Plaskett/Kenney kick off folk club season". The Cochrane Times. Cochrane, Alberta.
- Denning, Mark. "Joel Plaskett – biography". allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
- Bell, Michael (May 2009). "Interview: Joel Plaskett". The Wire MEGAzine.
- Denning, Mark. "Ashtray Rock – Review". allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- "Arcade Fire, Feist on Polaris short list". CBC News. July 10, 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2007.
- "Joel Plaskett Emergency, Finalist, Pop/Rock Song, "Fashionable People"". The Independent Music Awards. Clifton, New Jersey: Music Resource Group LLC. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
- Wheeler, Brad (December 12, 2007). "A Plaskett prescription for the 'Shoe's birthday". The Globe and Mail. p. R2.
- 2008 East Coast Music Awards nominees
- Plasket gets 6; local talent makes city proud
- "McCartney hires Halifax musicians as opening acts". CTV News, July 9, 2009.
- "Live on CBC Radio 3 w/ "Grant Lawrence: Trivia Tuesday... the Joel Plaskett Edition!". CBC Radio 3, May 31, 2011.
- "Joel Plaskett Rarities Compilation On The Way". chartattack.com, May 16, 2011.
- "Joel Plaskett's Announces 'Scrappy Happiness' LP, Canadian Tour with Frank Turner". Exclaim!, January 6, 2012.
- Wheeler, Brad (February 17, 2012). "For Joel Plaskett, another week, another jam, another song in the can". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario.
- "Producer credits". www.joelplaskett.com. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- "New Bravo! series The Berkeley Sessions sets the musical stage September 10". www.channelcanada.com. Montreal, Quebec: Channel Canada. August 27, 2008.
- "Joel Plaskett's new job: This Hour Has 22 Minutes news anchor". music.cbc.ca. Toronto, Ontario: CBC Radio-Canada. March 6, 2013.
- "VIdeo of the day: Joel Plaskett and Mamma Yamma". cbc.ca/strombo/. Toronto, Ontario: CBC. January 18, 2012.
- "Classified – Self-Explanatory". discogs.com. Portland, Oregon: Discogs. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock – August 9, 2011". America's Music Charts. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock – August 8, 2011". America's Music Charts. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
- "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock - April 17, 2012". canadianrockalt.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-13.
- "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock - March 6, 2012". canadianrockalt.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-13.