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"Plush is so much more than a band," says frontman Rory Eliot. "We strive to represent a way of life. All our members aim to be gracious, down-to-earth and generally family-oriented people. Our audience reflects what we stand for and that message is what we cling to. The vision has been interrupted along the way, but the dream has not changed and is not over, it's merely been delayed."The journey has seen many highs and some tragic lows, but for the Cape Town-based three-piece - consisting of Eliot (vocals and rhythm guitar), Emelio Gassibe (bass and vocals) and Carl Wegelin (lead guitar and vocals) - this is simply the beginning.Plush's collaboration with multiple SAMA winning producer Brian O'Shea and VUKA winning engineer Sean Gunns, as well as contributions from the likes of Grammy winner and engineer Vance Powell (The Raconteurs, Jack White), Neal Snyman (Crowded House, Collective Soul) and SAMA winner Matt Allison makes a clear statement that the stakes have been raised substantially on this, their self-titled fourth studio album.The band - while touring extensively in 2009 and 2010 - has spent the better part of the past 24 months writing, collaborating and refining this new album."We agreed that this album needed to be approached in a modern way," says Eliot, the band's chief songwriter. "The musicianship needed to push us all beyond our best achievements, and although we want this album to be fun, it must not lose its integrity. When getting Brian onboard - and let me tell you it is a dream come true to work with him - we knew what we wanted. We wanted a producer who could help us establish our new sound."Eliot adds that his approach to songwriting has changed, after spending a year completing a Masters Degree in songwriting at Bath Spa University."The more I write, the more I realise how much I gain from my time in the UK," he says. "In the past I approached all my songwriting in the same way. I'm realising that there are so many ways to approach it."Bassist Gassibe adds: "I think the first three albums didn't convey what the band is really about live, hopefully this album will. The live shows always were and still are the band's hallmark."Lead guitarist Wegelin talks about the focus of the fourth album. "We have been striving towards a more anthemic approach in our new songs. Our albums to date have been quite intimate, philosophical or cathartic. This album is reaching more towards big, sing-along songs with driving grooves."It is the whole package - both great songs and great live shows - that audiences in South Africa and Europe have responded to, which the band recognises as their strength. As bassist Gassibe points out, Plush thrive on the interaction with the audience. "We sing lyrics that are positive and uplifting," he says. "And hopefully come across as people who our friends and fans can relate to."The band began the quest for success in 2003. Frontman Eliot's charisma was ably supported by lead guitarist Chas Smit, and the group produced the hits Tainted (which hit No. 1 on TuksFM), Today and My Baby (which received airtime on MTV). The band's progress was due in large part to the live shows, with a message that was simple, heartfelt and uplifting. And then tragedy struck. Lead guitarist Smit was killed after a show, when attempting to cross a street in Pietermaritzburg in September 2005.Eliot - who describes the time as his darkest season - took a six-month sabbatical. He then returned as a solo artist - with performances fetching wide acclaim from fans and critics alike. It wasn't long before Eliot's fellow Plush band mates pledged their support for a return to the initial vision. The comeback story fuelled support from fans too, as word spread of Plush's return.It was in 2007 that the group started gaining national momentum, with the release of When Grace Grew Tall early in the year. The song shot to No 1 on 5fm's Hi5@5, where it remained for four weeks and was downloaded thousands of times. The band's song repertoire increased and drew sell-out crowds all over Capeā€¦


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