Red Dirt Torchbearers Forge A New Direction After ‘Ragweed’
So the story goes, the all time bar sales record at the Gothic Theatre in Denver was a Cross Canadian Ragweed show about 5 or 6 years ago that wasn’t even sold out. That statement right there ought to paint a picture of how rabidly loyal ‘Ragweed nation has always been to their musical heroes from Oklahoma. And is it any wonder?
Since the late 90’s the wildly successful country rock band from Oklahoma more or less rewrote the rules of what a country band (or a rock band) could be. Over the course of the band’s 15 or so year career, the career trajectory took the young band from beer soaked roadhouses to auditoriums and stadiums. Along the way, the band have been name checked by just about every well known country and southern rock musician there is.
But during those fifteen years of legendary (mostly sold out) shows and nine chart topping albums, Cross Canadian Ragweed frontman Cody Canada and bassist Jeremy Plato patiently waited for the free time to pursue other kinds of music. That opportunity finally presented itself in 2010.
In the wake of Cross Canadian Ragweed’s decision to part ways last year, the duo of Canada and Plato quickly resurfaced with an entirely new musical project called The Departed. According to the band’s founding members. and Ragweed alums, The Departed brings to fruition the duo’s desire to bring to light a more singer songwriter, rootsy rock and roll version of their Oklahoma musical heritage.
I had the opportunity recently to fire off a few questions to bassist Jeremy Plato and here’s what he had to say:
Dutch Seyfarth: How have Ragweed fans responded to the new musical project your doing with Cody?
Jeremy Plato: So far, the response has been pretty well mixed. From what I’ve heard the hardcore Ragweed fans either like it or don’t.
DS: What was your musical education growing up?
JP: My only education was public school music program, mainly vocal/choir program. Big Dave, our drummer David’s dad gave me my only bass lesson to speak of. The rest I learned on my own. I learned how to sight read sheet music through the school’s vocal / choir program.
DS: What type of bass and amp gear do you use? Has your tastes in musical gear changed at all through the years?
JP: I’m currently using Fender amps and basses along with an Ibanez Soundgear Prestige 6-string bass. My taste has changed alot throughout my career, as I get older I’m starting to notice my taste is becoming a lot more expensive. My advice to anyone getting into bass is to keep it simple, Fender and fender-esque Jazz basses are the easiest and most basic bass to get your hands on. That’s only my opinion [though].
DS: Can Ragweed fans expect more of a rock or more of a country sound from your new band?
JP: That’s a tough one. I would say neither. I feel this band has a totally different dynamic than what is considered the norm of both of these formats.
DS: What bands do you listen to that might surprise some of your family, friends, and fans?
JP: I’ve been listening to alot of 70’s R&B and Funk artists; Larry Graham, Earth Wind & Fire, and the Isley Bros. My other guilty pleasure is metal, I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to metal so, I won’t get specific.
DS: What made you decide to learn to play the bass guitar as a kid?
JP: I felt that the bass was a window into learning different styles of music. I mean, when do you not need bass in music?
DS: Do you and Cody surprise your fans with any old Ragweed songs in your live sets?
JP: We do but, the songs aren’t the more popular songs from the catalog. I think the overall feeling is that Cody and I want to get away from [the song] “Carney Man” altogether.
DS: After so many years of playing with your old band, what’s the good and bad of starting a new band with new players?
JP: The good thing about it from my perspective is, everyone is on the same page and wants to make this work. I see nothing negative.
DS: If you and Cody weren’t professional musicians, what would you both be doing?
JP: I can’t speak for Cody but, I’m pretty sure that I would be a heavy truck/equipment mechanic. I’m a bit of a motorhead!