New San Diego punk-rock supergroup Plosivs exorcise demons in debut

West Coast quartet with Pinback’s Rob Crow and Rocket From The Crypt’s John Reis ‘go for goodness’ on new album and self-titled tour, stopping at Rumba Café on Wednesday

Every weekday, singer and multi-instrumentalist Rob Crow of Pinback saw 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 hello, but it wasn’t until the school principal asked them to play at a fundraiser that they started collaborating.

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

Crow and Reis wrote a few songs for the fundraiser, and the project snowballed from there, becoming a new punk-rock supergroup, Plosivs, a West Coast quartet that also includes drummer Atom Willard ( Against Me!, the Offspring, Rocket from the Crypt) and bassist Jordan Clark (Mrs. Magician). Last week, Plosivs released their self-titled debut album, and on Wednesday, March 23, the band’s first nationwide tour will stop at Rumba Café.

The band’s 10-song LP is a frantic offering full of crisp, fast guitars and snappy hooks, with Crow’s soft, disarming vocals adding beauty to the ferocity. “It’s still evolving. … There are no limits to this. There are no settings on what it can or should look like. With our interests, it could go in so many directions,” Crow said. “But for the first album, it mostly tries to be a battery so we can plug into it and electrically recharge and be able to handle anything.”

Crow said Plosivs’ music is designed “to go as high or low as you want, as long as it’s an exorcism. Catharsis is the goal. … It’s moving towards good and happiness. It’s not gothic. There’s nothing wrong with that – a lot of my stuff is incredibly depressive. But it’s not that.”

Plosivs began collaborating before the pandemic hit, then continued working together remotely before recording with Ben Moore in October 2020 at Singing Serpent Studios in San Diego. Although pandemic-related themes are not hard to find on Plosives (see the poisoned air on “Iron Will”, the “messy calendar pages” on “Bright” and the feelings of loneliness on “Pray for Summer”), Crow said the music is meant to withstand all eras .

“Through things like the pandemic, there are certainly built-in assaults that hopefully the art we create can positively exorcise and burn. But I hope it’s inherent [to the music] not the wickedness that helped create it,” he said. “As soon as the pandemic hit, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do anything that reminds me of this happening, ever. I don’t want pandemic nostalgia in my life. … That being said, “Pray for Summer” is about, well, hopefully next year we can go to the beach.

While Crow is known for kicking off a litany of bands, his focus right now is Plosivs. “I’m an obsessive writer, so I’m always writing for a myriad of different projects or creating new projects,” Crow said. “But I didn’t want to do anything other than this group. It is the healthiest, most powerful and most positive experience.

Diana J. Carleton