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plant life interview
plant life interview
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Jack Splash sows the seeds for a funk revolution.

It begins like many a hip-hop album: funk loop, DJ scratching, “f**k these whores”. Then you’re into alien territory with the gnarled techno-funk and mermaid-rhapsodizing of Underwaterluvboogie, followed by the lush dreamscape of When She Smiles She Lights The Sky. Welcome to Plant Life, a group like no other. “Some consider it funk, some consider it soul or hip-hop,” says Jack, lead singer and eponymous hero of the group’s debut LP, The Return Of Jack Splash. “But to me it’s what I’ve always been doing, which is a big mixture of everything.”

Plant Life are a two-man/two-girl quartet, born in LA out of a deep sense of frustration. “Hip-hop has become boring,” reiterates Jack. “Soul and R&B? You talk about soul, you need to be saying something, but people just go through the motions. At that point it’s just a business or a hustle – I don’t have anything against it but it doesn’t get me excited. Plant Life wanted to hear some exciting music again, even if we had to make it ourselves.”

Joining the dots from the romantic affectations and sexual obsessions of Prince and OutKast, Plant Life are as adept with retro funk as they are techno-soul, delivering their sound with a freshness that makes a nonsense of accusations of revivalism. In conversation, Jack raves about The Cardigans’ sophisticated pop (“I lost my mind”) as much as vintage Earth, Wind & Fire, while a track like Precious Heart riffs like the Chilli Peppers in mellow mode. This is a band that won’t be pigeon-holed, or, for that matter, defined by age or race. “We decided some time ago that we’re tomorrow people making tomorrow music,” laughs the garrulous Jack. “My group is all mixed up. People go: ‘What is she? Half that and half this?’ We’re musicians.”

Jack is, though, more forthcoming on his sexual peccadilloes, ‘fessing up to a past obsession with strip clubs and strippers. “I’m not gonna hide that just because I also care about the world and believe in women’s rights. I think the reason I was attracted to them is because they were damaged and I thought I could help - the broken bird syndrome. For me that was really unhealthy ‘cos it dragged me into a bunch of tumultuous relationships. But most had beautiful and artistic minds – they saw the world as differently as I did.”

Plant Life then. Not your common or garden vegetable.

Steve Yates 15 October 04
Plant Life – The Return Of Jack Splash, released 18 October 04 on Gut Instinct.
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