Let's just say it: Sean Rule is an emotional guy. The drummer chokes up several times during his interview. But, the thing is, he's in the hyper fast, hyper bombastic Plow United. Rule might be quick to the water works, and maybe he's an introspective guy, but the band plays so fast and so loud, these deep musings blast your skull off like something from Wild in the Street.
Never has this been more apparent than on the trio's new album, Three . It's fast. It's loud. It rocks. And it has has some pretty heavy commentary on the human condition. With all that in mind, Editor John Gentile spoke to Rule about the new LP, his Queen obsession, and being a pops-punk-rocker.
The opening track, â€œWe Should Take Time,â€ is interesting because it is a 90-second, super fast, punk banger, but it is a really introspective song.
Some of the songs work better shorter. â€œWe should Take Timeâ€ only took a minute thirty to get across. Sometimes it feels like I need more than that. I remember sitting down and I had an idea that I wanted to build. Itâ€™s hard to explain how all of us write. I had this chunk-chunk-chunk pattern that I wanted to put together.
When weâ€™re younger, it seems like we spend a lot of time wishing we were somewhere else. â€œI wish this was over.â€ â€œI wish I was doing something else.â€ That happens when we are in high school. When we are tiny, itâ€™s not like that. I watch my son Max, heâ€™s running around, heâ€™s looking at cat-tails. I want to get back to that, where everything is magical. Where we just explore. Thatâ€™s the whole idea- make time for that, no matter how simple.
Make time for someone, even if itâ€™s just talking, or crying, or holding someone. Thatâ€™s life between the life. Even if thatâ€™s hokey. You never know when itâ€™s going to be the last time, so grab the time that you have,
Did anything prompt that philosophy, or did that concept just come gradually to you?
Ever since my son Max was born, I have been thinking of it- just watching him and how he perceives the world. When Brian, Joel, and I started Plow United, everything was black and white. Either it was a certain way or it was wrong and we wouldnâ€™t even allow certain things in. If it wasnâ€™t punk enough or wasnâ€™t hip enough or was too poppy, we wouldnâ€™t even let it in.
Max has shown me that, itâ€™s not stupid to do that, but you're missing out on a lot of things by doing that. I teach at a Community College, and I love my job. I learn so much by taking an extra 30 seconds to someone. â€œHow ya doing?â€ â€œIâ€™m okay.â€ â€œOh, why just okay?â€ Just little life experiences and part of it is getting older. As you crest 40, you think, how can I make the most of my time left, and a lot of it is slowing and taking in the magic all around.
So, youâ€™re saying that one should slow down to appreciate oneâ€™s experiences. Bascially, you are saying that Keith Morris was wrong on â€œLive fast, die young.â€ How can you even dare to rebut a punk rock hero?
Ha ha! Iâ€™m saying that I donâ€™t agree with him! Look at you trying to play me against the punk rock icons! Ha ha ha! You see, that goes to my point. There are many definitions of punk- some people say it is sonic destruction, some people say it is the same as hippie thought, some people say it is total acceptance. Can you be a punk rocker and be a dad and be a professor? Those are both authoritarian figures!
You know, itâ€™s funny, because I think I am. I think Iâ€™m doing it. Iâ€™m not doing it the way the Subhumans did it, or Black Flag did it, or even Op Ivy. To me, punk has always been the DIY ethic- running your own merch, and records. As Iâ€™ve gotten older, I think Iâ€™ve gotten away from that and to me, now, itâ€™s more just living fairly. I think the whole smash the state attitude is a way to get someoneâ€™s attention.
Take â€œWe should take time.â€ Those lyrics are coming at you at a million miles a minute. I actually slowed down the lyrics a little so you could hear what Brian is saying. I think there are 18 words in the whole song. Heâ€™s singing at the top of his vocal range. Heâ€™s impassioned. My definition of what punk rock is has changed so much over the years. It still has this constant energy and motion, but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s about us being right and other people being wrong. I think itâ€™s about being part of the world now.
Have you ever had a student come in and suddenly realize that you were Sean from THEE Plow United?
No, in the world that we live in now, with information at your fingertips, the students figure out who you are very quickly. I even play out here. Iâ€™ll often do one off shows with Larry and His Flask, and a bunch of the kids in my class came out and didnâ€™t even know I was in the band. Kids will see that Iâ€™m a drummer and figure out that I am in Plow.
What is the current relationship between you, Brian, and Joel? Are you true til death friends, are you working associates, or do you hate each other?
We definitely donâ€™t not like each other. We do beautifully as far away as we are. Brian and I were Joelâ€™s best man when Joel got married. Weâ€™ve got this cool relationship where we are 3,000 miles apart from each other, but we can shoot text and talk about stuff in the middle of the day. Weâ€™re not super close bros like we were next door neighbors, but maybe we would be if we are. We love each other dearly, but weâ€™re not right around the corner from each other.
What do you think is surprising on the new album?
We tried to appeal to our genre of person that likes our short, fast, punchy songs and those that like the introspective songs. I think we gave people who want the two minute songs a lot of fun material, but weâ€™ve also given some people some moreâ€¦ I hope on some of the songs like â€œbright eyes,â€ the parents can identify with. Brian has an amazing song called â€œLet me in.â€ Joel has some amazing stuff. Also, on the single, we did Queen cover for the b-side.
What does Queen mean to you?
Queen is what I grew up on. When I would visit my dad on weekends, he would spin Queen. Freddie still brings me to tears. I still miss him every June. When I hear â€œâ€™39,â€ it hits me in the gut. Some of the drumming that I do is because of Roger Taylor. Iâ€™ve ripped everyone off from Roger Taylor to Nicko McBrain.
You might say Queen drumming doesnâ€™t sound like Plow United, but it is there. Itâ€™s emotional music going on.
You talked about having divorced parents. Is that a concern for you with your children?
I think about that every day, dude, every day. Every day that I kiss my son on the head, I think about that. Last summer, while we were working on the album, I was talking to my dad, and he said, â€œyouâ€™re an amazing father,â€ and that really hit me hard. I had a lot of doubts about getting married- but my wife is the greatest woman. Then, I had even more doubts about having my son- just thinking about when my dad left. Then, I was counting down to the days when my son hit the age that I was.
But then, the day came and went and I guess it was just silly to think that I was suddenly going to pack up and leave on a certain day. I think about it every day. I donâ€™t worry about it every day, but I think about it every day. Always being aware that itâ€™s there, but also being aware of it.
When your wife was pregnant, did you let her know about those thoughts, or did you play it cool?
I never told her. We talked a lot about the issues I had with divorced parents before having kids, but I didnâ€™t say anything like that while she was pregnant. I never would do it, but I just thought about it. I was constantly aware of it.
I see my son every day before I live and I know itâ€™s going to be a good day. Itâ€™s a good, healthy way to be aware of these things. Itâ€™s a good way to take time, if you will.