Local indie-rock band Plastic Harpoons’ name combines the piercing strength of a harpoon with the fragility of plastic. As explained by Taylor Casey, the band’s lead singer, a plastic harpoon symbolizes the “strength through vulnerability” that is found in music.
“And Daniel’s grandfather was actually killed by a harpoon,” Casey said, smirking at Daniel Vasquez, the band’s lead guitarist. Vasquez just shook his head in response to the joke, clarifying that his grandfather was not, in fact, killed by a harpoon, or harmed in any way in the making of their name.
Plastic Harpoons have established a presence in the Santa Barbara music scene with their inviting energy and musical edge. Following a couple of years spent getting their bearings, playing local shows, and releasing a few singles and a music video, the band debuts their first album, Modern World, on November 30.
The track “Dirty Linen Sheets” is a band favorite, about tie-dyed bed sheets and Casey’s college love being broken by distance and time. Set against instrumentals characteristic of classic, west-coast indie rock, the song portrays that feeling of reminiscing on old love with a new perspective. Casey said those dirty, colorful sheets that inspired the song have since been thrown away.
Vasquez explained that the album as a whole captures what it’s like to live in our modern world; those tie-dyed feelings of love and loss, and grappling with everything around us that is changing, while also recognizing what has stayed the same. As he and Casey both tried to describe the album’s inspiration, Vasquez noted that Sean Renken, the band’s bassist, has a better way of putting it. “Sean says something deep and meaningless,” Casey laughed.
Modern World’s first track is “Diamond Wings,” a song about a modern-day Icarus, the tragic figure in Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun and lost his life as a result. The last track on the album, “East of State,” is about EOS Lounge, the nightclub on Anacapa Street. “There was a little period of time when I was going there too much,” Casey explained.
Needless to say, they are very different songs. Not only lyrically, but melodically. “Diamond Wings” has a twangier, Americana-style sound and “East of State” is smoother, with a more drawn-out, almost melancholy rhythm. What ties them together is their contemporary relatability.
“It all comes back to the modernity theme … it’s all stuff people deal with that can be applied anywhere, anytime,” Vasquez said.
Formed in 2019, Plastic Harpoons is based around friendship. Their origin story involves Casey returning home to Santa Barbara after moving across the country, a Tom Petty tribute concert, and guitarist-turned-drummer Bijan Firouzan locking himself in the studio for hours on end to practice how to play the drums for their shows.
Now, the band that got their start practicing on a Santa Barbara avocado ranch has a Los Angeles-based recording studio, Lollipop! Records, releasing their first album. To celebrate, they’re holding an album release party at Fig Mountain Brewing on Friday, December 2 at 8 p.m. The free show will be open to the public, with an intimate, house-party atmosphere and both Plastic Harpoons and local artist Alexandra Riorden will perform.