Joel Plaskett Emergency
About Joel Plaskett Emergency
Joel Plaskett is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist whose music brings together the energetic melodies and hooks of power pop, the muscle of hard rock, and more intimate singer/songwriter fare. A one-time member of the '90s indie rock bands Thrush Hermit and Neuseiland, he embarked on a solo career in 1999. His third solo release, the three-part set Three, was issued in 2009 and won a Juno Award for Best Adult Alternative Album in addition to being nominated for a Polaris Music Prize. An even more ambitious sixth solo album, 2020's 44, comprised 44 tracks on four LPs.
Born William Joel MacDonald Plaskett in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in 1975, Plaskett was raised in Halifax and began making music in his early teens. One of his strongest influences was his father, folk musician Bill Plaskett. In 1992, Joel formed the indie rock band Thrush Hermit with guitarist Rob Benvie, bassist Ian McGettigan, and drummer Michael Catano. Plaskett was the group's lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter, and they released two full-length albums and three EPs before parting ways in 1999. That same year, Plaskett launched his solo career with the concept album In Need of Medical Attention. It introduced a more power pop-inflected, indie singer/songwriter-oriented sound that contrasted to the harder rock of Thrush Hermit. In the meantime, he had formed Neuseiland with guitarists Charles Austin and Drew Yamada, keyboardist Andrew Glencross, and bass player Tim Stewart. Plaskett played drums. The group released one album, 2000's Neuseiland, before disbanding.
On his second album, 2001's Down at the Khyber, Plaskett introduced his new band, the Joel Plaskett Emergency -- Plaskett on vocals and guitar, bassist Tim Brennan and drummer Dave Marsh. Down at the Khyber earned Plaskett a Juno Award nomination as Best New Artist, and 2003's Truthfully, Truthfully finally provided him with a commercial breakthrough in Canada. He made his television debut in 2004 as a coach on the CBC reality series Rock Camp.
Plaskett traveled to Arizona to record his next album, 2005's La De Da, a solo release with Plaskett handling most of the instruments himself (though his former Thrush Hermit bandmate Ian McGettigan played bass on the sessions and Jon Rauhouse sat in on pedal steel). He reconvened with the Emergency for the 2007 concept album Ashtray Rock, before striking out on his own again for the 2009 solo effort Three. The three-album set earned Plaskett a Polaris Music Prize nomination and a Juno Award for Best Adult Alternative Album. It also marked his debut in the Top 15 of Canada's albums chart. Plaskett followed it in March 2012 with Scrappy Happiness, a collection of ten songs that had been recorded and released at the pace of one song per week for CBC Radio and iTunes. Named for a particular guardrail in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where he was based, Joel Plaskett & the Park Avenue Sobriety Test followed in 2015. Its guests included Mo Kenney, J.P. Cormier, and the Emergency, among others. It reached number 14 on the albums chart in Canada.
In 2017, Plaskett released Solidarity, a collaborative album with his father Bill Plaskett, co-founder of the Lunenburg Folk Music Festival. They supported it with tour across Canada. Named for both Plaskett's age at the time and the number of tracks, the eclectic solo effort 44 arrived in 2020. Organized into four albums, it reflected contributions from nearly three-dozen musicians while exploring themes relating to physical travel and self-discovery. ~ Mark Deming & Marcy Donelson