By Owen Maxwell
Bands resurge in popularity all the time thanks to movies and television but it’s rare that they inspire the movies that reignite their fandom. For Halifax’s Plumtree, the road to getting reissued was aided by Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a film based on a book inspired by and featuring a song they wrote.
“We played pre-Internet so it was harder for people to find out about music if it wasn’t coming out on major labels,” said Plumtree bassist, and Ottawa local Catriona Sturton. “Maybe the music captures a special moment in time but Scott Pilgrim definitely kept our music alive when we haven’t been playing in so long.”
Keeping their music alive has found their three albums Mass Teen Fainting, Plumtree Predicts The Future, and This Day Won’t Last At All getting reissues and appearing on vinyl for the first time through Label Obscura on March 10, a decision that was a no-brainer according to label founder Tim Lidster.
“When I started the label I wanted to focus on Canadian indie bands who had music that might not have ever come out on vinyl,” said Lidster. “I wanted to work with bands that we could put out their whole discography at once and with three records that hadn’t been released I thought it was a perfect fit.”
Lidster has been following Plumtree since they started too, inspiring him to work in the industry.
“I was around their age at the time, when touring and puting out a record seemed like this impossible thing but I saw these girls out in Halifax doing it and it all seemed real and doable,” said Lidster. “It influenced me to help bands put out records and I imagine it influenced a lot of young women, seeing them put out these records and touring in a very man-centric world.”
As to what made their music work so well, Sturton believes conflict was a huge part of their sound.
“One of the things that made Plumtree really great was that we actually tried to combine fairly different tastes of music, punk rock, and pop,” said Sturton. “It was definitely a process writing, we worked really hard on every song, making stuff that flowed well but there were smaller details woven in.”
The other side was the Halifax scene that fostered their uniquely contrasting music.
“Halifax was cut off from a lot of touring acts, people were extremely supportive of local bands,” said Sturton. “There was a really active all ages scene and that’s just so important to make the music scene thrive.”
Lidster recognized the band’s new fans had been left out in the cold for long enough and thinks reissues are a great way for them to connect with the music.
“People were missing out with their digital copies,” said Lidster. “I want to help newer fans that missed them initially find those records easier.”
Sturton thinks the reissues are a great way for fans to avoid the hunt she encountered in her youth trying to find old music, as well as online price-gouging.
“It’s a great chance for people who missed it and people whose tapes are worn out,” said Sturton. “Someone’s selling a CD on the internet of Plumtree Predicts The Future for $1,000, which is just weird.”
As for how their music will resonate with modern audiences, Lidster believes the music is ageless.
“They really captured a balance between a 60s pop sound with heavy guitar riffs, and the positivity and energy of it is timeless,” he said.
Sturton thinks the song’s stand up pretty well and thinks the band fits in pretty well with the new music world.
“We had no aspirations to shape the landscape but there weren’t a lot of all women bands at the time, and it’s awesome to see many more, even if that wasn’t necessarily us,” she said.
With Sturton playing her own music in Ottawa, and Carla and Lynette Gillis playing in Overnight, a reunion isn’t on the radar for Plumtree but the reignited interest may warrant some other goodies from the band.
“We used to have a VHS of Plumtree music videos and tour clips, and we have old footage we’ve never done anything with, so we plan to release some of that,” said Sturton.
Overall Sturton is taking this humbly as she continues her work in the Ottawa music scene.
“You don’t have any expectations about what your music or band will mean to anyone, so it’s really sweet.” •