Plaid On Flannel is an alternative indie blues rock act from Toronto, Canada led by sole constant member Nolan Randall. Randall plays the role of Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist/Producer. Since 2012, POF have released 4 full-length albums, 2 EPs, and a live album. With various personnel over the years, POF have played shows around Toronto and Ontario at venues like the El Mocambo, Cherry Cola’s, and the Opera House. POF’s discography and live shows are filled with memorable hooks, superb musicianship, wondrous melodies, and evocative lyrics. Being mainly influenced by the rock and roll giants from the 1970s to the present day, POF’s sound incorporates an array of styles such as alternative, indie blues, stoner rock, funk, prog rock, metal, folk rock, soul, and glam rock. In a world of tumultuous chaos, Plaid On Flannel’s mission is to inspire, stimulate, and bring elation into people’s lives in the form of art, culture, and community. All the while creating real rock and roll through making records, and playing shows in the act of touring.
The Whole Story
Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Nolan Randall came up with the name Plaid On Flannel in November of 2010 while living in Peterborough, Canada. He had just earned a college diploma in Radio-Broadcasting, and was hosting a radio show earlier that year in Ottawa, Canada called “Dirty Flannel Jacket” which was in the grunge music format. The name Plaid On Flannel has a plethora of meanings behind it. But most importantly, it represents timelessness and meaningful/real music. With the fashion being a metaphor for the music, neutral fashion never goes out of style. And Randall was determined to create music that gets better with age. The way rock and roll has transcended from generation to generation. Randall had previously been a journeyman lead guitarist in some original rock bands. At the time, he was with Peterborough’s High Waters Band and gigging every weekend playing mostly classic rock covers, but also a number of original songs written by lead singer Mike Kidd.
By August of 2011, Randall bought a new MacBook with a built-in interface, and began recording on GarageBand with music he had written over the previous years. This was the beginning of Plaid On Flannel. After 10 months of recording and aiming to develop a unique style, Plaid On Flannel’s debut album “Fairbairn Meadows” was released in July of 2012. Randall had also released a studio album of all original material called “Stand Up” earlier that same year with High Waters Band. Both albums each have 12 songs and were both released in 2012. “Fairbairn Meadows” features a lot of acoustic music and is rather eclectic in styles. From “Drunk” (Hard Rock) to “Another Planet” (Latin Rock) to “When Will Everything Begin” (Reggae) to “Satan’s Highway” (Heavy Metal), the list of styles goes on. Most songs were written for acoustic guitar, but there is an abundance of lead electric guitar throughout the album which has always been Randall’s bread and butter.
Following the release of “Fairbairn Meadows”, Randall was invited to the Interfusion Music Summit in Cathedral City, California. Inspired by this opportunity, Randall wrote an explosion of songs that summer and had some of the best material he had written up to that point. He travelled to California in October of 2012 with his acoustic guitar and met a number of fellow musicians and music industry people. He performed his material 3 times during this trip and these were the first official Plaid On Flannel performances.
Upon returning to Peterborough, Randall started recording the sophomore Plaid On Flannel album while resuming his every weekend ritual of playing shows with High Waters Band. Becoming more skilled at songwriting, arranging, and producing on GarageBand, Randall was recording 3 new songs per month during this time. Using programed drums instead of loops, and a real bass guitar instead of MIDI software instrument bass. Plaid On Flannel was beginning to seem like it could be a real rock band someday. POF began to have a following on ReverbNation in the fall of 2012 and many people started paying attention to the songs Randall was releasing. The mixes were tighter and the dynamics were prominent. It was a highly creative time for Randall. POF’s 2nd album “Mission Of Mercy” was released in May of 2013. With 20 songs, the album developed POF’s signature sound of alternative indie blues rock. The blues rock that Randall was so accustomed to with High Waters Band, reflected in songs like “Feel The Same”, “Lightnin’ King”, and “Be Careful”. Songs like “Luck” and “Away From It All” explore the style of folk rock. But the most prominent vibe from the album is the hard alternative rock edge of songs like “The Rambler”, “Competition”, “Asylum”, “I Can’t Complain”, and “Emergency”. Randall’s singing voice provides an indie rock flavour that contrasts with the alternative music in a distinctive and unique way.
In the summer of 2013, Randall left High Waters Band and moved to Toronto, Canada to study music and put Plaid On Flannel on hold. That fall, he upgraded his recording software to Logic Pro X, and performed acoustically at coffee shops and open mics. After playing in some weak ensembles, Randall felt he needed to have a real band again. By February of 2014, he joined up with bassist Les Cassling and drummer Adi Taylor who had previously been the rhythm section in a Toronto acid-funk-jazz band called the Potato Boat Whores.
Randall decided to unleash the songs that he had recorded under the Plaid On Flannel moniker and become a lead singer with encouragement from the other band members. Plaid On Flannel was officially a band, and they played their first show together in April of 2014. Randall began recording again with his upgraded DAW and released a single in the spring of 2014 called “Something On Your Mind” with the B-Side “Ohio/Southern Man” which is a double cover of 2 Neil Young-written songs. Plaid On Flannel played monthly Toronto shows in 2014 and even paid a visit to Randall’s hometown of Peterborough that same year. Randall as always had new songs ready to be recorded, but knew the band wasn’t ready to record yet as they were still seeking a keyboardist.
In the fall of 2014, Randall began recording his 3rd solo album which was to be under the name Plaid On Randall to avoid confusion from fans as Plaid On Flannel now had new band members that wouldn’t be featured on that album. Now being settled down in Toronto, Randall gradually created a concept album over the next year. By March of 2015, Plaid On Flannel finally added a keyboardist who could also sing backup vocals. Jen Doyon joined POF after playing in alternative bands in western Canada. She fit the mold well and gave POF the flavour they were looking for. Shortly after, drummer Adi Taylor left the band and was replaced by Toronto rock drumming veteran Minas Hatzigiannatzoglou in May of 2015.
With the 4-piece set, Plaid On Flannel began working with producer Ruben Huizenga (David Usher & Edwin) in the fall of 2015 in his studio in downtown Toronto. By the end of the year, Randall released his 3rd solo album “Primitive Normative” under the name Plaid On Randall. The 15-song concept album was heavily influenced by concept album extraordinaires like Pink Floyd, The Who, and Arcade Fire. Every song is interconnected lyrically, and the album features heavy use of a digitech whammy pedal which Randall had included in Plaid On Flannel’s live sets. It made the guitar sound come to life. “Primitive Normative” isn’t as eclectic in musical styles as Randall’s previous 2 albums, but it tells a direct story throughout the album through an alternative and blues scope. From the uplifting indie rock anthem “Find A Way” to the epic tale of “Make Them Understand” to the riffed out progressive rock of “Rusty Domingo”, to the in-your-face heavy blues of “Primal Desire”, “Primitive Normative” remains a consistent album and was created with the intention of having the sum being bigger than it’s individual parts.
Plaid On Flannel played in new cities in March of 2016. The band performed in Ottawa and Cornwall with fellow rock bands Iconoclast and Chasing Amber who were both on an Ontario tour together. POF finished their EP “Rising Above” in the spring and released it in May of 2016. The 6-track EP has songs that were previously recorded by Randall and the progressive rock anthem “Rising Above”, which was heavily influenced by Toronto rock legends Rush. The other songs featured on the EP are “Go The Distance”, “Maybe”, “Siege Of Megiddo”, “Feeling No Regrets”, and “What’s Real”. The rhythm section elevated these tunes with active and powerful playing. Jen Doyon used a variety of effects on her keyboard for different songs on the EP such as organ, clavinet, piano, harpsichord, & synth. For the first time, Plaid On Flannel’s recorded music featured musicians outside of Nolan Randall, and the music was enhanced from it’s original form. As POF played live a lot over the course of 2016, some live material was recorded from their 2 performances at Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival in Toronto in August of 2016. Thanks to sound engineer Steve Thom, Randall put together a 16-song live album called “Live At The Roundhouse” which was released in October of 2016. It features 14 songs from the band’s repertoire, and covers of both the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” which got a huge reaction from spectators as heard on the album. “Live At The Roundhouse” is a free album for the public.
With a batch of new songs ready to go, Randall began recording his fourth solo album in the fall of 2016. At the same time, the band was expanding their list of songs and preparing for a new EP. In early 2017, POF got back together with Ruben Huizenga to record at his new studio in Roncesvalles, Toronto. A film crew showed up at this studio to record music videos for the band while they laid down bedtracks. Throughout the winter and spring of 2017, POF spent more time in the studio then on the previous EP to make sure the next one was even better. After Huizenga and Randall mixed the 7-song EP, mastering engineer Michael Kossov of Toronto fulfilled mastering duties. In July of 2017, 2 music videos were released for the songs “Switching Gears”, and the EP’s title track “Get On!”. The videos gained a lot of attention on social media, and they preceded the release of the EP. The EP “Get On!” was released in August of 2017 and features more layered vocal harmonies from Randall and Doyon, as well as new keyboarding sounds from Doyon such as accordion and strings. This was unfortunately Doyon’s last stint with Plaid On Flannel as she amicably left the band to fulfill her own music. She later started her own garage-surf rock band called MoonJunk. At this point, Randall decided to part ways with Les Cassling and Minas Hatzigiannatzoglou and restructure the Plaid On Flannel lineup with young talent and prospected proteges. This would evolve the band’s existence and put POF in a better position to tour.
In the fall of 2017, Randall recruited bassist/backing vocalist Brett Kinrade and drummer Mads Poulsen. Kinrade had played in a few bands, and was working in a biochemistry internship in Toronto. Poulsen is from Denmark and had previously played in a Danish band called Irrational Mirror. The new Plaid On Flannel 3-piece rehearsed over the winter. They played Cherry Cola’s in February of 2018. The show was packed and it was POF’s most exuberant live set to date. Shortly after, Poulsen announced he was moving back to Denmark, and POF was in search for a new drummer. After some failed drumming auditions, bassist Brett Kinrade announced he was moving back to Kingston to complete his degree in biochemistry. With Randall finding himself back to where he was 7 years earlier as a solo project, he released a new album of material under the name Plaid On Flannel. This was material he had been working on for the previous 2 years. “Independency” was released in July of 2018 and features 18 songs. From the glam-surf-rock of “Isolate” to the hard blues rock of “When The Rhythm Comes In” to the funk-reggae of “Into The Night”, “Independency” is filled with the dynamics of the rock and roll spectrum. “Up And Down The Highway” takes on an indie folk approach and “All Hail” is an alternative blues anthem written in tribute of the late Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. “Independency” was a big leap forward for Plaid On Flannel. If you’ve read this far, maybe you’re willing to go a little further. If you have questions or comments for Nolan Randall, please email him at email@example.com and don’t forget to wear your plaid!