Spotlight Artist: Nelson Pla

Our next spotlight artist is a drummer/percussionist, vocalist, songwriter, producer and creator of the 3rd annual Global Fund for Women Concert coming up on Thursday, April 7 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. Thanks to an introduction by our friend Stephen Bailey, Nelson Pla answers our questions below. Although Nelson has been a part of many bands, he will be performing in the benefit concert with his band known as clueLess All-stars.

Spotlight Artist: Nelson Pla & clueLess All-stars

photo by Debbie Hager

First, our mutual friend Stephen Bailey introduced us. How do you know Stephen?
We’re from neighboring towns, I’ve know him since high school.

Band Lineup:
clueLess was originally a side project I started with my brother Joe as a 2 piece, a la White Stripes. While we don’t perform much these days, we do a benefit show once a year for the Global Fund for Women at Maxwell’s: we get a few musicians friends together and cover random variety Pop Rock from the last 40 years or so.

Here is the line-up for this year’s clueLess benefit show band:
Alexandria Tava: vocals
Chris “Gibby” Gibson: guitar/vox
James “Lava” Boehmer: bass
Joe Pla: guitar/vox
Nelson Pla: drums/vox

What is the origin of your band’s name?
While rehearsing/jamming with my brother and another friend, we jokingly referred to fellow musicians who have a naive perception of the industry as clueless, but who isn’t? As I said in the first question it was a band we started as a side project.

How long have you been performing?
We released an EP in 2005, toured most of that year into 2006 then other endeavors took our attention but every now and then we do appearances under that name.

Past lives (i.e., previous bands, your early years, etc.):
As a musician I’ve played drums, keys, guitar and/or vocals for various bands/artists over the years. As a song writer I’ve released music under the band name Lazarus Effect, my most recent project is called Pompeii Pop, which I will include a 2 song sampler in a book of haiku, essays and artwork called: Lazarus’ Ego. I’ve recorded and toured with Lazarus Effect, Mad Happy, Automatic Slim and The Badge. The first band I was in was a Pretenders tribute band called Precious (named after one their songs). The second band I was in was with Stephen Bailey’s Ya-NeZniyoo.

Blatant self-promotion: What would you like to plug?
Benefit show for the Global Fund for Women this Thursday, April 7, 2011 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ – it’ll be a great night for a good cause! 🙂

Thursday, April 7
Clueless Events presents…
Global Fund for Women 2011
A Concert to Benefit Global Fund for Women
hosted by Stephen Bailey
Performances by:
Nick Wager
Aunt Ange
Clueless Allstars (with very special surprise guests!)
Ice Wagon Flu
RSVP via facebook
$8 donation
Proceeds from the show will benefit Global Fund for Women, an international network committed to a world of equality and social justice. They advocate for and defend women’s rights by making grants to support women’s groups around the world.
1039 Washington St. (11th St.)
Hoboken, NJ

The GFW Benefit Show is now in its third year. How did it all start?
A few years back as I started touring less and realized I missed performing, so I figure I might as well give myself a good b-day present by playing a show. I did not want to make it a “me” fest so I figured I’ll do a benefit. Then I asked myself what do I support/who should I help? A friend helped me research all sorts of humanitarian organizations and my favorite is the Global Fund for Women, their main offices are in San Francisco but they have one here in New York. I met with the folks there, they thought is was a great idea and they support us every year in our endeavor to support them. Along the way others have helped in making this a great event for a good cause, one of them is Stephen Bailey and very talented photographer Laura Dessantis-Olsson.

What can we expect at this week’s show? You are billed as the Clueless Allstars with surprise guests. Who are the surprise guests?
We plan to rock the crap out of the above mentioned songs and if I were to say who the surprise guest are it wouldn’t be a surprise. I invited all my musician friends to come out to the show and they are welcome to jump up on stage (if there is room) sing/play hand percussion, etc…

See this Global Fund for Women public service announcement regarding the show, created by Stephen Bailey using xtranormal:

What are your future plans?
As long as I have b-days I’ll be doing this. In between, I will be recording and releasing the next three clueLess albums. As I mentioned, I have a book coming out this year and then I’ll start work on a Pompeii Pop album, release it then (most likely) tour.

Musical influences:
Way too many and varied to list, I am influenced by anything that can move my soul and/or feet. Here is this year’s GFW2011 set:
Song 2 – Blur
She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult
Suffragette City – David Bowie
Alex Chilton – The Replacements
Dancing Days – Led Zeppelin
World Shut Your Mouth – Julian Cope
Sour Girl – Stone Temple Pilots
Wrasse – clueLess
Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
Girlfriend – Mathew Sweet
Getting Better – The Beatles
Go – clueLess:
— Encore —
Surrender – Cheap Trick

Favorite venues to play:
Maxwell’s of course. In the NYC area I like Mercury Lounge in Manhattan and there’s Union Hall in Brooklyn, a small but really cool room, good people.

Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY
(212) 260-4700

Union Hall
702 Union St. (between 5th & 6th Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 638-4400

clueLess events:
facebook: nelsonpla
Youtube: user/sbcea
Myspace: clueless & sessionsatpla
Live Music: Clueless:

Where can we buy your music?
I know The Best of clueLess: Volume I is available on iTunes, Amazon and/or through us.

You’ve had multiple roles in your music career: drummer/percussionist, vocalist, songwriter and producer. Which is your favorite?
I have had most fun as a drummer but the most soul satisfying experience (for me) is the creation of a new song. I am fortunate to work in an industry were one can express themselves from the subtle to the sublime.

Nelson Pla at GFW 2010. photo by Laura DeSanits-Olsson

Tell us a story or anecdote about performing live.
As a drummer I’ve experienced the continental drift of the drum kit, meaning if said instrument is not on a carpet the bass drum will slide away with every hit and the snare and floor tom will bounce all over the place without something to absorb the energy of each strike. Of course, no one notices until they don’t hear drums anymore because they have drifted too far for me to reach.
Any advice to someone just starting out?
With any passion one must be pragmatic as well, if they wish to have any marketable success/longevity. Do what you want to do and do it as best you can, try not to solely pursue what is perceived as commercially viable.

Can you recommend any other act(s) we should feature on MurphGuide?
I recommend featuring Aunt Ange, great band/killer songs, good attitude, good people-they’re playing right before us at GFW2011.

Below is a video of clueLess performing “Go” at the first GFW Concert, in 2009:

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