'Catharsis is the goal’: new punk-rock supergroup Plosivs exorcises demons

The West Coast quartet featuring Pinback’s Rob Crow and Rocket From The Crypt’s John Reis 'goes toward the goodness' on a new self-titled album and tour, which stops at Rumba Café on Wednesday

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive

Every weekday, singer and multi-instrumentalist Rob Crow of Pinback would see John Reis of Rocket from the Crypt and Hot Snakes while the two dads dropped their kids off at school in the San Diego area. The two musicians would say hey, but it wasn’t until the school’s principal asked them to play at a fundraiser that they began collaborating. 

“I always wanted to play with John. … So I made a list of punk covers we could do,” Crow said recently by phone. “John wasn't so excited about covers, but he always wanted to try to write something together, so he texted that if we wanted to try doing that, that'd be fun. And I was like, oh, it sure would be.” 

Crow and Reis put some songs together for the fundraiser, and the project snowballed from there, growing into new punk-rock supergroup, Plosivs, a West Coast foursome that also features drummer Atom Willard (Against Me!, the Offspring, Rocket from the Crypt) and bassist Jordan Clark (Mrs. Magician). Last week Plosivs released its self-titled debut, and on Wednesday, March 23, the band’s first national tour will stop at Rumba Café.

The band’s 10-song LP is a frenetic offering full of crunchy, rapid-fire guitars and instant hooks, with Crow’s disarmingly smooth voice adding beauty to the ferocity. “It’s still evolving. … There’s no limitations on it. There’s no parameters on what it can or should sound like. With our interests, it could go in so many directions,” Crow said. “But for the first album, mostly it’s trying to be a battery so we can hook ourselves up to it and get electrically charged and be able to handle anything.” 

Crow said Plosivs’ music is built “to go as high or low as you want, as long as it's an exorcism. Catharsis is the goal. … It’s going towards the goodness and the happiness. It’s not goth. There's nothing wrong with that — a lot of my stuff is insanely depressive. But this is not that.” 

Plosivs began collaborating before the pandemic hit, then continued working together remotely before recording with Ben Moore in October 2020 at San Diego’s Singing Serpent Studios. While pandemic-related themes aren’t hard to find on Plosivs (see the poisoned air on “Iron Will,” the “calendar pages in disarray” on “Bright” and feelings of loneliness on “Pray for Summer”), Crow said the music is meant to hold up in any era.

“Through things like the pandemic, there are definitely built-in aggressions that hopefully the art we create can exorcise in a positive way and burn it off. But hopefully it's inherent [to the music] and not of the badness that helped create it,” he said. “As soon as the pandemic hit, I was like, ‘I don't want to do anything that would remind me that this is happening, ever. I don't want pandemic nostalgia in my life.’ … That being said, ‘Pray for Summer’ does have a theme of, well, hopefully next year we can go to the beach.” 

While Crow is known for launching a litany of bands, his focus at the moment remains firmly on Plosivs. “I'm an obsessive writer, so I'm always writing for a myriad of different kinds of projects or creating new projects,” Crow said. “But I haven't wanted to do anything else but this band. It's the healthiest and most powerful, positive experience.”