Really early on in this project, I wrote about one of my favorite albums: Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower’s 2003 debut full-length, Dissertation, Honey. As a result of some of the things that I wrote, an enterprising and kind user who goes by the name “A. Wade” fulfilled my request: freeing from the shackles the last Plot EP, Saviours and Suckers. The whole thing is available on a playlist on YouTube, and it’s delightful. The songs don’t have names, but they’re all high quality, both in format and content. It was a breakthrough moment for this project. I felt like I had actually made a difference, helping to uncover a long-shelved release. Don’t thank me, though. Thank this “A. Wade” person, because he is the one who made it happen.
For me, Plot was a total live show find. I went and saw The Blood Brothers at State Theatre in St. Petersburg (one of the handful of times I saw them there). I’m thankful for that tour, because Plot has become one of my favorite punk bands.
Dissertation’s production made it a gem. It was such an unrefined, ferocious avant-garde beast. Meanwhile, the record’s successor and the band’s final album, Love in the Fascist Brothel, is a lot more polished. Released by threeone (31G) in 2005, the album has one of the most provoking and controversial themes I’ve seen attempted in punk rock: embracing fascism.
When I saw them open for the Blood Brothers, the members of Plot were wearing what appeared to be Nazi emblems on their armbands. As it turns out, the symbols were not swastikas (thankfully). Rather, their “SS Uniforms” read “Plot” instead of acknowledging the Third Reich. It made some around me in the room that night uncomfortable. Apparently, the group’s antics even led to inciting riots in conservative places like Salt Lake City.
I think the shtick is tremendous, though. It’s not meant to be an affront. It’s a statement on art and culture and how easily people are offended. Isn’t that what punk rock is all about? Pissing people off? Isn’t that what they were meant to be doing? The members of the group aren’t Nazis. Why anyone would ever sincerely believe that? That’s an unusual level of ignorance that I’ll never understand. Then again, the cover of the album does depict a Hitler-like character with bare female breasts. Punk rock.
Love kicks off with “Reichstag Rock,” which sample horns from the Gorilla Biscuits song, “New Direction,” off their 1992 album Start Today. After that sample, the album melts for a furious 24 minutes. At 10 tracks, it’s a record that’s over much too quickly, leaving listeners with only a case of whiplash.
There is nothing pretty about Fascist Brothel other than the fact that it revels in its grime. In about the same amount of time as a network television show (sans commercials), Brandon Welchez and the rest of Plot delve into a subgenre of punk rock that employs, in the most ridiculous manner, a saxophone.
Combined with their sensual live presence (Welchez’s stage presence can be described as nothing short of erotic, grinding against his mic stand and cavorting around stage simulating sex positions – ironically enough, another of my favorite punk bands), Plot makes gritty punk rock sexy. It’s the equivalent of being around by something that should disgust you – like licking the side of a dumpster, or Lindsay Lohan. Or licking the side of Lindsay Lohan (call me, LiLo).
The fascist theme extends to song titles and lyrics: the aforementioned “Reichstag Rock” and “Lipstick SS” – the SS, of course, refers to the German Schutzstaffel, or elite Deustch soldiers. Sure, it’s a loaded and edgy prospect, but it’s a helluva way for a band to differentiate itself. The fact that some people took it seriously in the punk community is bemusing but sad.
The friendliest or most accessible cut on Love is the infectious “Drake the Fake.” It’s probably the best-known of any of the band’s songs. I’ll leave you with that song, and this statement of high praise: Plot easily make it in my top 10 favorite bands, even though they only released 2 albums. I think a third record would have been a huge hit for them, San Diego, 31G, and the scene, but… c’est la vie.
From The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower’s Love in the Fascist Brothel, this is “Drake the Fake” –
Standout tracks: Thanks to its concentrated fury and brevity, it’s hard not to listen to the whole thing in one sitting. Because of this, it’s hard to pick out just one or two tracks that rise above, but “Exile on Vain Street” is the best use of saxophone, and “Drake the Fake” is so catchy it’s stupid.
Weakest track: Nope.
RIYL: Post-hardcore punk revival with a spicy jazz chaser. I know.