Plans only had one rule when recording their new EP: No rules baby, make the music you want to make. The band had been sitting on a funny picture they had wanted to use for something for a while after snapping it on an old tour. The picture was of a kid hiding from his mom in a fountain right in front of a “NO SWIMMING” sign and the band decided to use that young fella as their muse for the new record. The idea was it doesn’t matter what the signs say or what people might be telling you to do, just do whatever you wanna do. The band was coming off an LP, Get the Bad Out, where they set a lot of boundaries for themselves while going for a poppier, more accessible sound. While that album rips and it pushed them out of their comfort zone in a good way, Plans just had enough of trying to fit their music into the boxes they had created for themselves. Lead singer and songwriter Cody Almond was feeling heavy so he wrote heavy tracks, and they took them to a local Indianapolis studio to lay them down in early March. Then the pandemic hit, and those tracks sat for over two months. The band trickled back into the studio one by one and laid their pieces whenever they could, emailing song parts back and forth, slowly putting the EP together. The process was radically different than their normal method of recording, but they did set a strict “No Rules” policy so they had no choice but to go with the flow. It lead to a great deal of tweaking and experimentation that the band hadn’t been afforded in previous studio sessions, where they had to get the whole tape done in the limited studio time they had paid for. Funnily enough, while the band was rarely physically all together for the recording of No Swimming, this EP feels like the truest version of the band on wax to date.
No Swimming is the rare EP that is both a perfect introduction for first time fans of the band while answering the beckoning calls that longtime fans have had for ages. “Sleep” is a legendary song in the Plans cannon, a staple of their live set and the first track the band ever wrote together. They had originally thought of the song as a meandering seven minute jam, but how they played the song changed drastically over the years as the track got tigher and more intense. This rerecording of “Sleep”, which was one of the last additions to the EP, is an audio representation of how the band has grown since they first wrote the track over half a decade ago. While those die hard fan will have to wait juuuust a little bit longer to hear the rerecorded “Sleep”, lead single “Do You Feel Anything” should more than satiate their appetites. It feels like the kind of track that could have ripped up the charts in the early 2000s as Cody and the boys start off quiet and reserved before exploding into the chorus. His desperation is palpable as he shrieks the track’s titular question, begging for any kind of answer. It is a massive track that leaves me lamenting how long it’ll be before I’ll be able to hear it live and scream the lyrics back.
I had the chance to talk with lead singer Cody Almond late last month before both of our September birthdays. Cody is a fun-loving and down to earth dude who had one of the healthiest perspectives on his music that I’ve heard in some time, thanks in great part to recently becoming a father. It’s made him more appreciative of his bandmates than he’s ever been, while allowing him to realize he can’t get swept up in the little things like he may have when he was younger. There are just more important things in life. Even while COVID has thrown the future of being a professional touring musician into a blender, he knows he has a band and a family that he loves and who love him back, who will all be singing by his side for many years to come, whether they’re playing in MSG or a backyard in Indy. What else do you really need in life?
Below is a condensed version of our conversation edited for clarity. Cody and I talked about the history of the band, his hopes for Indianapolis coming out of the pandemic, and the less than traditional recording process for their excellent new EP.
GSC: You’ve had some line-up changes and have even switched instruments within your current line up, so let’s start with a state of Plans.
PLANS: So we got Stan [Fryman] and Mike [Nunyabiznes] from Summer Bruise and then Sebastian [Richie] and me [Cody Almond]. So Stan, they play guitar Mike he plays bass, Sebastian plays drums, and I play guitar. All of us kinda do the singing. I like lots of layered vocals. I watched a lot of “how to produce pop songs” videos and we don’t necessarily play pop music but I like how they do the vocals where it’s just layer after layer after layer. My voice can be really thin live so we’re really lucky that everyone in the band can sing because it lets us fill that out. But nothing too crazy we have two guitars, bass, drums. We’d really love to bring in a third guitar/auxiliary person. I think it’d be cool to get a third person or like a third guitar player where if there is a tambourine on the chorus, they could just rock with the tambourine and come in for the quivers. I would really like to be an all analog band in that aspect.
GSC: Could you talk a little bit about the recording process as you went from Good & Simple to ending//starting to Get The Bad Out and how you liked to record before things got really scrambled for this EP.
PLANS: EP1 we were all coming out of what I would say were our high school bands. We were all 21 at the time, the only ones left from the original band are Sebastian and me. I kinda had these leftover pieces of songs from this other band I had been in for the past 4-5 years and had something to go off of but was also trying so hard to not sound like that band, which was a Wonder Years-esque pop punk band. I was just like “It’s time to grow up it’s time to be different.” So if we did something with the guitar I hadn’t done before we’d just be like let’s make that a whole song. Recording that EP was really long and drawn out. We were jamming together for a year before we told anyone we were a band. Like we didn’t wanna have promos and an album release date when we weren’t even sure if the music was good. So we did that one with the homie.
GSC: So Plans has always been about the planning I like that.
PLANS: *laughs* And then when we were gearing up for the second EP, ah man it was nuts. Every Tuesday we’d get together at like 11 AM and we’d practice till like 10 PM. We’d jam out all the songs, and we were writing a song almost every practice. Whether it was good or not, it was just about the creative exercise. We had all these unfinished songs, and Gary, who was out of Barbershop at the time, now has his own spot-
GSC: In Jersey, right?
PLANS: Yea, he contacted us and was like “I like your sound and I want to do something with you.” He had just done one of the Head North EP’s or maybe the full length, I know he had done work with Free Throw, he had done a lot of the emo and emo adjacent bands where we were like “Oh these guys are cool we really like their sound,” so we were all about working with him. Most of our songs didn’t have lyrics going into the session. We went to the studio, and this was like the first time any of us had been to a studio with like a drum room and Studio A and Studio B and an intern and just some crazy stuff where we were like this is too fancy for our blood. I got to finish a lot of the lyrics in the studio setting, and I fell in love with that process. It taught me that you don’t have to have a final product going into the studio, you get in there and get the juices flowing. You’re there to just work on music for a couple days, and that really set the groundwork to work with Gary at Barbershop again. I think we did that over the course of two weeks.
GSC: Are you staying in Jersey the whole time? Like getting a hotel? Hapackong is beautiful, like you’re right by the lake there and whatnot.
PLANS: Oh it is phenomenal. The studio itself, underneath it there is a restaurant on the lake where you can pull your boat up, and above the restaurant — it’s all built into an old chapel. So the studio takes the tall part of the chapel and the restaurant wraps around and there is this kinda small section above the restaurant with an apartment where we crashed.
GSC: Dude that sounds like a rom com from the 90s or something I am surprised nobody fell in love with the waitress at the restaurant and stayed out there.
PLANS: *laughs* Collective Soul was out there recording at the end of our sessions, and they did karaoke with us. It was cool but weird, like it just didn’t feel real it was so cool. That record I wanted to try something different. That was fun because we spent like three days just doing drums, then started working on guitar, then we’d do vocals at night and go back in the morning and listen and pick out the best takes and would go back and do some more and work on some weird sounds and we just had so much time to do nothing else. Cell service was ass out there but in a good way, there was the restaurant there but you were tryna save money so we weren’t really drinking and eating like that. We just dove into the album for two weeks, ate ramen and shared a case of beer.
GSC: You talked in previous interviews about how there are no people you’d wanna be in a band with than the group you are playing with, it seems like Plans has a great sense of trust in one another.
PLANS: And don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our fights. Like it can get nasty every now and then but at the end of the day we love each other. Like we’re not making real money doing this so we’re not like “man our careers are on the line” so if it’s not fun we’re not doing it. With the LP we tried to really like break into a different sound. That’s why we had “Little Bird” that had the 1975 vibe, and it was fun to do. And with this newest EP it was just like if it’s not fun let’s not do it, let’s not pressure ourselves.
GSC: No yea, and like I love your LP and feel like you guys were able to get outside your comfort zone in a lot of ways that I thought worked. but I liked the back to basics approach with this EP. I mean with “Sleep” it’s a very literal revisiting of one of your biggest tracks, and it was cool to hear that, a different energy to that track.
PLANS: “Sleep” was the first song we wrote as a band. We got together and there was a six-minute version of that song that was a jam, and that was on our first EP. Five years later we’ve definitely changed how that track sounds. Its faster, a little more aggressive. Funnily enough we just decided to do “Sleep” last minute for the EP, mostly because I am so tired of people asking what like the second to last song in our set was knowing that when they go to listen to it online it won’t sound the same. So I was like let’s just do it how we do it live. We play that song every night, and I wanna keep playing that song, so this gives me a little longer to keep playing it.
GSC: Yea totally it reminded me of what Carseat Headrest did with Twin Fantasy recording it first in 2011 and the next in 2018. It’s cool hearing creative people playing the same material at different points in their life.
PLANS: Yea and like I said when you go into the studio it’s like we’ve got a general idea of what we want to do, then you play it and practice it and start goofin, like maybe somebody throws a blast beat in there or something, like the stuff you do live to have fun. Then after a while you’re like man I wish that’s how we tracked it, and that’s what happened with “Sleep” like let’s just do it in the studio with all the fun stuff we do live.
GSC: So I guess from a literal stand point how did this new EP get recorded? It was recorded at the beginning of quarantine so you were all separate right?
PLANS: So in the beginning we had started off demoing stuff and sent it to our friend to record and he was like yea let’s do it. So we did guitars and bass a couple days together like that. Then coronavirus hit so we took two and a half months off. Especially with some of us working in restaurants and stuff we wanted to be cautious. So like I would go in and do part and then Stan would send a dry signal of their guitar to us and we’d either re-amp it or throw it into a guitar amp simulator. I feel like we only used a real amp like once on this whole thing, which is weird. But the drums are real. Usually it’s the opposite. But yea the drums were recorded in a completely different spot and Stan and I would get on late at night and we’d sit there and jam out a lead and they’d pick up the pieces and make it sound way cooler.
GSC: It was kinda like passing batons. You’d leave part of yourself in the studio for the next person to pick up.
PLANS: Yea exactly. I’d always heard of bands that worked that way, especially like electronic pop bands from like 2012. Ya know, one guy lived east coast and one lives west coast and I always thought that sounded maddening, but here we were doing it and were like oh we could do this again if we needed to.
GSC: Did you feel like you got to ruminate on things differently? I feel like it’s so different being in the room together than everyone sending their bits and pieces.
PLANS: We didn’t have the chance to hype each other up and be like yea that sounds good, we just had to send it and be like “I think this sounds good… tell me what you think.” Then everybody would get back to you a day later, so you’re tossing and turning in bed like did I do the right thing? Was that cool, was that not cool? After doing an EP and an LP where we were in a studio and it was like that’s what we’re doing there’s no revisiting this, this was so different. We got the meat and potatoes done, the rhythm guitar, there was like program drums at the start, we had some of the vocals scratch tracked. And then we got to think about it for a while. Not just a couple days but like two months of sitting around and thinking about it.
GSC: Did a lot change in those two months?
PLANS: Structurally not much but a lot with the little nuances and like we should put an acoustic guitar in here. I think we went a little crazy and overboard with some of the layers “Do You Feel Anything” the chorus has like six different rhythm guitars, so there is a lot going on there. But we had the time and figured why not.
GSC: Yea you got nothing but time.
PLANS: With this one we went in with no rules. Yea we just wrote a pop LP but I wanted to write some heavier stuff. And it’s not heavy heavy but there’s a breakdown in there. We just sorta threw it all out and said “Let’s just do whatever we want.” I had been demo-ing songs for what was going to be LP 2 and then all this started to formulate. The poor rest of the guys in the band I would send them like three songs I did this week and they’d be terrible takes but we got close to thirty some songs before this EP. Some good, some like well the riff is good before the rest of the song sucks. But it was cool to have something sitting like on a computer layer versus some of the LP stuff we just had a phone demo. I am a Dad now so I am spending more time at home.
GSC: Hell yea congratulations!
PLANS: Thank you, but yea since I can’t go jam for 11 hours what can I do to keep the momentum going and to keep myself sane cuz I just like to write that much.
GSC: Totally, how old?
PLANS: My girlfriend has a seven-year-old and together we have a one-and-a-half-year-old.
GSC: Boy or girl?
PLANS: Two little girls.
GSC: I wasn’t sure I ever want kids and now some of my friends are getting kids and I’m like Jesus Christ, that’s gonna be me in a couple years.
PLANS: It’s like the coolest thing. I mean I was nervous. I mean we had been together for a while, I had helped with the older one quite a bit, I had been around. Fatherhood hadn’t been new but the baby stuff was a whole different thing.
GSC: Diapers are a whole different ordeal. Did that impact your songwriting at all? Or is it you’re always writing about your life, so now she’s in your life and so of course you’re writing about her?
PLANS: Yea! I guess I have thought of the impact of my words a little bit more, like one day my kid might look this up. But it’s definitely impacted how I write. Getting older does that to you too, you don’t always feel as strongly about certain things. I am not as upset about every little thing, I’ve got other things to worry about.
GSC: Yea when you’re younger what is immediately in front of you is your only priority and like the breadth of the world becomes overwhelming in a way when you get older.
PLANS: Yea life happens so fast! We were just shooting a music video yesterday; we were at our friends Beth’s house. At the time of the band starting she was living at her parents’ house and I was around the corner living at my parents’ house and I would get off work, go over there show her the demos. She’d cook for us after practice way back when, she’s always been awesome. And then we’re at her house and like my kids and her kids are running around, I’m shooting a music video in her pool and it was just so cool how it was just like full circle. Like we’re still who we were but now there’s little uses running around.
GSC: Yea oh man, and they’ll be friends growing up listening to your tunes and stuff.
PLANS: It was so funny, just seven-year-old girls watching the band like “Why are you doing that? That looks dumb? Can we get in the pool yet?” And I’m just like Dad’s working in the pool still sweetie, please get out.
GSC: I am guessing that the theme of the video is related to the name of the EP No Swimming.
PLANS: Yea that photo from the cover was actually taken in Philly years ago.
GSC: That is a great photo, that cover image is phenomenal. It just looks iconic already.
PLANS: It always stood out. We had the photo for a couple years and we had always joked about calling the record No Swimming cuz its already in the middle. And the whole thing, the sound the vibe the video everything we’re doing felt like we were breaking rules we had set for ourselves, not to sound corny. I think this was the first time we named something and then did it, which was kinda cool.
GSC: Who is that face down in the water?
PLANS: I have no idea. I think that was at the Logan Circle fountain and there were some kids running around and jumping in the fountain and it was super-hot out, and I believe the kids mom was telling him to get out of the water so he was hiding his face from his mom. It was really hot, there were all these signs that said no swimming and all these children blissfully ignoring it. Just kids going yea its hot, there’s water, let’s go have a good day, and that memory always stood out to me.
GSC: Any local indy stuff to shout out before we close?
PLANS: I desperately wanna see all these venues come out on the other side. The big all ages venue out here is the Hoosier Dome. The people that started that venue gave me my first shows at another spot they had. Now Andrea, who has a great project called Brightly Wild, runs the venue and she’s worked with us and is one of the best people I know. That place gives so many kids their gateway to this scene. There was a Citizen tour a couple years ago we got to open for, where it was supposed to be at a big venue and whatever discrepancy happened and last minute it got moved to the Hoosier Dome. All these kids who were used to going to this Live Nation spot are lined up and you could see the discomfort because they’d never been to a punk venue, it was so cool. I hope more things like that keep happening because that venue and the people behind it have done so much for so many people. There’s this other really cool place called Soundspace. Basically it’s an Anytime Fitness but for bands. You pay a monthly membership and you get 24-hour access to their rehearsal space and it’s all artist. They just went live with their recording aspect, so you pay a different fee and you have 24-hour access recording. And they’re hoping to grow music outreach programs at schools and whatnot and I just think it’s such a cool idea to rethink how music is done. So many people are like “aw man we’re a band but we all live in apartments.” Now there’s a spot that’s maintained for you to go to. They had a little mixer event and I was talking about tracking with hip hop artists and classical players. So you got this punk dude talking to all these people, it was really neat with all the genre bending. And I am sure they’re having a hard time because nobody is playing live so nobody is practicing but I just am praying for them because they can be a new model for how a newer band plays.