Landon Tewers is nervous. It’s just before the dawn of the new year and the outspoken frontman of the genre-defying band The Plot In You has just started to promote his band’s upcoming fourth studio album, DISPOSE, through a series of phone interviews. He’s sitting in his recently rented apartment in downtown Detroit talking to people all over the country, many of whom he’s spoken to in the past, about a record he knows has taken each one by surprise. For a decade now he and his bandmates have been associated with the heavier side of music, but DISPOSE may change that image, and he’s still unsure how it will go over.
“I wrote about 20 tracks for the record and there was probably like 6 or 7 heavy songs in there that we ended up cutting just because they weren’t as good as the other songs. This is the first record where there’s not a heavy song, you know what I mean? There are just little tiny heavy parts here and there. Hopefully, that’s enough to suffice anyone that wants to hear at least a little glimmer of that.“
One of those tiny parts comes in the album opener, “RIGGED,” which is highlighted by a dissonant, pulsing heaviness that brings to mind the Diamond Eyes era of Deftones. The song was originally intended for someone else, but Tewers decided he couldn’t let it go.
“I started writing it for another guy that I was co-writing for,” Tewers explains, “and then I got halfway through the song and I was like, “I’m sorry, but I think I’m gonna have to hold onto this one.” So I kind of stole it back and was like, “I promise I’ll write you a song that’ll be just as good and we’ll be good.” Then immediately after that, I wrote the song “Disposable Fix” (also on the album), all in one day, and it was meant to be for this other guy I was writing for and I ended up being like “I’m sorry dude these are just like… I have a very specific vision for these and I wanna keep these for myself.” That’s definitely a sound I think we’re going to experiment more with in the future, just the kind of structureless… you never know where it’s going. It’s very unpredictable.”
The word unpredictable has accurately defined The Plot In You from the very beginning. While there have certainly been common creative threads running throughout their discography, the four-piece has consistently pushed themselves to do something different with each release and DISPOSE is no exception. “We hinted at some of these ideas on the last record,” Tewers explains, “but going into this album we put all our cards on the table and tried to make the record we always wanted to create. I think I’m pretty confident in it. I think even if they’re a little bit thrown off by it at first, if they’ve really given it an honest chance, I feel like they’ll come around and be like “alright, it’s not what I had in the past” but hopefully it’ll be cool enough to be able to overlook that.”
The sound of DISPOSE is not the thing that separates this record from the rest of The Plot In You’s catalog. According to Tewers, the album is also special from a lyrical standpoint. “It’s mainly just about cutting ties with people that are weighing you down in life.” Tewers appears to be referring to one relationship in particular, which he claims inspired many tracks on the record because it was unfolding as he was working on material. “Our other records were more of a way for me to vent about the past. It was a more reflective outlook, whereas this one is the most up to date on things that I’ve been going through. Life was just throwing me curveballs. I think that’s another reason why this record might be the most unique out of all of our other ones because this one is about what was happening as the album was created.”
The story isn’t told in a traditional narrative, but there are themes that bubble to the surface as the record carries on. “The One You Loved,” for example, finds Tewers asking a former connection if they remember the night everything changed between them. He recounts the night he shared what he describes as “his soul” with this person and how it felt to finally be heard. The convincing quiver in his voice soon gives way into a driving, anthemic chorus that reveals that feeling has long since gone and he’s still unsure why. He knows he gave his all, so there must be something that he’s missing, but try as he might he cannot get this other person to provide an answer.
When asked about his band’s goals for this record, Tewers is quick to discuss growth and experimentation. He mentions “I Always Wanted To Leave,” a DISPOSE cut where Tewers delivers a haunting falsetto, as a reference for his desire to introduce new elements to the band’s sound. “That’s something I haven’t gotten to implement into Plot stuff but that’s an area where I just experimented with and solo things but on this record, I just really wanted to showcase pretty much everything that I guess I’m capable of. So there was no restraint as far as experimentation or anything like that, this was definitely the most us that we’ve ever been. There are no tracks in there just to appease any fan group or anything like that, it’s all just everything that we wanted. Just tons and tons of experimentation.”
Elsewhere on the record, “Happy” saves the track listing from remaining in the single digits. It’s technically an interlude, but when heard in the context of the album it feels as essential as the guitars or drums. “yeah that one, that one kind of came together last minute. I was just in the studio one night messing around with new sounds on these different instruments that I just bought and I was like “hey, that’s cool, put some weird vocals over it and it kind of works with everything.” We were fighting to just do 9 tracks because our last album before this one was like 15, and there were definitely some filler tracks. I’m still proud of that record, but there were definitely some filler tracks on that one. So we really just wanted a compilation of the absolute best tracks possible. That’s what we ended up with.”
Tewers is quick to follow-up his previous comment by adding that he hopes to be releasing more music than ever as The Plot In You moves forward. DISPOSE may contain just ten tracks but has a plan to increase the group’s output without jeopardizing the quality of their work. He wants to releases smaller batches of songs, EPs, with shorter intervals between each release. “We’ve always given it 2, almost 3 years between every release, so I definitely think we’ll be popping out music a lot quicker and doing some singles between releases. We want to keep a constant flow of stuff from now on, now that we have the freedom to.”
The freedom Tewers refers to comes from the band’s new deal with Fearless Records. Announced in the summer of 2017, the deal brought The Plot In You to the home of bands like I Prevail and Mayday Parade. Tewers would not disclose any details of the contract, but he did express his deep love for his new label family.
“I didn’t really know a whole lot about Fearless or their work ethic,” he explains, “and I wasn’t even super familiar with a lot of their bands. I know that they have great bands and stuff, but I haven’t really heard anything from other bands as far as how their relationship was, anything like that. So we talked a lot with them before we even signed just to let them know where we were at as a band and what we were trying to do and it just seemed like we were all on the same page as far as everything went, especially with the change and the new direction we’re going and everything, that just seemed to fall in line with what they would like to see come out of us. That’s the thing, they’re just a great label, man. They stay on top of their shit. They give a shit about all their bands. They’re just a really solid, caring label. In the past, with a lot of the other labels we’ve been on, it seemed like it was just “here’s some money, put out these songs with it, if it turns out cool that’s fine, if not, whatever.” Whereas they’re very hands-on, they’re very involved. Just a very very good label. They set a good standard for what a label should be.“
With that kind of faith in their label and the best album of their career about to release, it’s safe to say The Plot In You is about it have a very big year. They have already outlasted virtually every other artist from their the freshman class, not to mention countless heavier alternative acts who have risen to quick success only to immediately disappear in the years since, and they’ve played practically every venue on the planet that isn’t a stadium or arena. More importantly, they’ve done all this while making music they felt best reflected who they are as people. Tewers seems to have no aspirations of becoming the next rock festival headliner or radio favorite, nor is he trying to win any pointless industry honors. He’s happy right where he is, which hasn’t always been the case, and he’s not sure where to go from here.
“It’s hard to say,” he confesses with a small chuckle. “We’re all getting really old now. My expectations for things are just very low and it’s not that I don’t believe in what we’re doing or anything like that, it’s just that we’ve kind of been let down a lot in the past just because we didn’t have the right team and opportunities and stuff like that. We’ve been very fortunate for a lot of things we’ve gotten to do but I don’t think we’ve ever really reached exactly where we’d like to be, but I definitely think this is our best chance with the team that we have now. Like I said, we’re getting older, but we’re not any less excited and motivated to keep pursuing this or anything. If it all goes well, we can keep doing it for a lot longer. I guess we just survive and stand as long as we can and as long as we’re still enjoying it, that’s all I care about. That’s pretty much it. As long as I keep getting to do it and people still care long enough, I guess I’ll be happy. I don’t really have any super specific goal, I guess it’s just more just sustaining it and being happy doing it, you know?”
DISPOSE will be available everywhere February 16.