LA Alt-Rock Band Plastic Rhino Talks Pandemic Pressures, Their New EP, and Musical Influences

Alt-rock LA-based group Plastic Rhino has had a lot of challenges over the past few years being a rising rock band in the wake of a global pandemic. Their broadened social media presence and deep-cutting lyrics reflecting the hard times our nation is facing have brought the band to new heights now reaching fans across the globe in Malaysia and Japan. Couple Atara (lead singer) and Jack (bass and drums) Glazer along with their faithful dog Indio have utilized the lockdown to externalize their inner turmoil by creating a sound reminiscent of early 2000s alt-rock, 80s funk, and pop-punk influences. Their new EP Terminus set to release in June of this year discusses a world in chaos and how we aim to heal from the scars of the past few years. 

Q. What’s the story of your band?

A. Atara: We met 11 years ago now when I found a Craigslist ad cause Craigslist was all the hype back then to finding band members. I auditioned for [Jack’s] band and we were in a cover band for a while and we were talking and getting to know each other becoming really good friends and realized we had a shared interest in a certain kind of music and creating a certain kind of rock music so we started Plastic Rhino and went on our way. 

Q. What influences have helped your band succeed?

A. Atara: We’re heavily influenced by 90s grunge and early 2000s rock. 

Jack: Like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. 

Atara: Yeah I was raised on 70s rock and Jack was raised on 80s hair metal and Metallica and such so we came from different backgrounds. Rock and roll is pretty much like once you love a certain subgenre of it you kind of just love all of it. Everyone is influenced by someone else in the rock world. What you’re trying to do when you’re trying to create a certain rock sound is a lot of borrowing from a lot of different influences and putting your own spin on it. As much as you wanna say you’re heavily influenced by certain rock bands, rock and roll comes from within. 

Q. How important is it for you guys to be a female-fronted alt-rock band when so much of the alt-rock industry is male? 

A. Atara: It used to be extremely scary actually. A lot of female-fronted bands are very much overlooked or put in a way where they’re just a pretty sight to be in the front of a rock and roll band. It’s not really about the music. I’m all about the music and creating the sound and what we’re trying to convey; it’s not about beauty. It’s about creating the entire band experience so when you’re coming from it from that standpoint you get overlooked a lot. In rock and roll, people are looking for the pretty thing at the front of the stage to do her thing and where her little crop tops and sing, and I’ve actually been told that many times on my journey of being a singer that that’s all I should be and I don’t have a say and I don’t have a voice. When that’s thrown at you over and over again and you’re like no I wanna be a rock musician and be taken seriously in my genre. It takes a lot longer to put a name out for yourself. Luckily Jack is very cool and very patient.

Jack: it also ties into the importance of diversity and including everyone when it comes to creativity. When you exclude others you really miss out on a lot of opportunities for really cool perspectives. 

Q. How does being an LA-based band help you broaden your music’s audience?

A. Jack: Being in Los Angeles we pretty much have the best of the best out there as far as musical talent goes but also on top of that we have a lot of the quote un-quote transience, people coming in and out constantly from all sorts of places. You see a lot of different perspectives on not only your own genre but a lot of other genres as well. 

Atara: Also LA gets sort of pigeonholed with a certain rock scene like the sunset strip scene. Everyone is kind of stuck in that 80s scene. 

Jack: Yeah a lot of people still think Mötley Crüe is the big band still (laughs)

Atara: When you say you’re an LA rock band that’s what people imagine and a lot of people don’t understand that there’s an insane amount of bands going on. There are all different kinds of sounds and experiences in the LA scene. Unfortunately with rock music sometimes it can get a little stagnant and get stuck in an era. People don’t really wanna evolve from that but there are so many bands out there evolving that don’t get put in the limelight. [People] are looking for a certain kind of rock music and if you don’t have it they don’t want it. LA is losing a lot of music venues and we lost a lot during the pandemic. It’s really sad that live music is being pushed to the side and that’s what makes LA so great is live music and the ability to be in a band and perform at local venues all around the city. You don’t have to pay to play, you just come and you can suck and you can get better. LA needs to come back out from it. I don’t know how it’s gonna happen cause we’ve lost a lot. 

Jack: Our favorite (venue) The Viperoom, it’s not going away but they’re building a condominium on top of it. 

Atara: Yeah I wanna tell people out there to please not give up on rock and roll music. I know it’s not being pushed right now on the top radio charts like it’s very dominated by hip-hop and R&B and pop music and there’s not a lot of room for it right now but it’s there, it’s underground. It’s on the Spotify playlists, your local radio station, your college radio stations, and it’s really good right now. I’m actually really happy for Bring Me The Horizon. I know they had to collaborate with Ed Sheeran to get to that spotlight but good on them! Bring Me The Horizon has been around for a long time. I used to listen to them on a mixtape in like 2007. They’ve been around for a very long time but they’re finally having their moment.

Jack: And everything is archived online now. You can really check out whatever you want and have access to all the great things that have come out in the past. We have a cousin that’s just discovering Metallica and Tool. I feel like he’s going through what I went through in high school which is pretty cool. 

Q. How have you utilized social media and the internet to broaden your reach? 

A. Atara: I think that’s honestly where we have broadened our reach the most is online. A lot of people are hating on Spotify right now but oh my god have they given the opportunity for small bands to just reach across the world. Looking at our charts behind the scenes and seeing that our music is in Malaysia and Japan. Our songs are being put on people’s playlists all over the world and it’s incredible. We wouldn’t have that without the internet and social media. Because of the pandemic, there were no live performances so everyone had to regroup and restructure bands. We really pushed our online presence big time. We’re getting messages from fans all over the world (saying) “oh my god I love your music I discovered you Tik-Tok”. We were so hesitant to make a Tik-Tok but it’s been doing really well. 

Jack: Yeah I will add that I have a gripe with Tik-Tok and that’s figuring out the algorithm. Tik-Tok favors a lot of interesting things and you could put out of a video of myself playing guitar or one of (our) solos and I’ll think “Oh this is cool, this will get some likes” but a random video of Atara playing out random things that’ll get that most views and likes go figure (laughs).

Q. What’s the inspiration behind your newest single Bleeding Heart?

A. Atara: Bleeding Heart is about love. It’s about how love is a tricky son of a bitch. When you love someone so deeply that you’re willing to give anything and everything in your life to be with them and when that love isn’t reciprocated back. 

Jack: We were trying to go for something a little more groovy and upbeat. We tend to write pretty dark songs with dark sounds but we wanted to make this one the groovy dance one. 

Atara: Yeah definitely we wanted to get some of the funk elements in there and go back to some of the greatest like David Bowie and Prince and give a little shout-out to those guys. 

Q. Talk about the production process behind your new EP. 

A. Atara: We worked with our good friend Tom Chandler who’s been our producer on all of our previous releases. We brought him all of our song ideas and bits and parts of our songs and we all just sit in a room and have a little writer’s room. We all go around and say “let’s try this, let’s do this part and mess with this a little bit.” Jack and he figure out all the guitar sounds, bass sounds, he programs the drums and we have our drummer friend Dave, he played the drums live for our album. 

Jack: [It can start] with a single guitar riff and build from that. Yeah, we kind of collaborate and come up with what’s the best. 

Atara: [Bleeding Heart] actually was me recording into my phone and different vocal takes of the chorus. I was trying to figure it out over and over and then I’d go to Jack and say, “what about this?”

Jack: She actually wrote the guitar part for this. The guitar and the bass part. 

Atara: (Laughs) I did I wrote it into my phone and sang it and said “can you play this?”

Jack: Tom and I figured it out note for note in the studio and translated it. 

Atara: I hum all the different instruments. I wrote this guitar part (by humming) and I was like, “hey can you guys make a song out of this” and they did!

Q. Are you excited for fans to hear the new EP? What do you hope they gain from it?

A. Atara: Absolutely. We are very excited for fans to hear the full album which I think is gonna be in June now. What it is for me, these songs, I like to call them the different stages of the Covid (lockdown). You know how you have your stages of grief, it’s like the different stages of the lockdown process during 2020. You put them all together and (we want) people to be like “wow this is a really eclectic group of songs.” Everything is a little different. It’s not like a whole vibe; each song is its own character. Each song was kinda written during a different stage of lockdown. It’s like all the emotions you were feeling and everything you were going through at that time became each song. 

Plastic Rhino’s new EP “Terminus” is releasing later this Spring/early Summer.