If there’s any sort of ethos that contributes to the Miami music world, it seems to be to have energy. Not only in the music itself but the interconnection between members of bands and the way that it ricochets off of their listeners.
Plastic Pinks grab the reigns of jumper cables and hook them onto the amps of garage rock stages.
It wasn’t too much of a shock, though. Florida’s continuously burgeoning rock scene has lingered and fingered in corners of Miami for decades. But when a full-blown musical surge occurred a few years back, half-brothers Augie Pink and June Summer had just moved to the city from Puerto Rico.
They soon emerged as Plastic Pinks, with alternating members leading up to their current lineup (including Luigi La Rocca, Nico Ochoa, and Dane Giordano), and right in the forefront that was long before held by bands such as the Jacuzzi Boys and Milk Spot; once again presenting a jolt of ambiance that is parallel to the aforementioned, with the affection of an album released in ‘77.
Burger Records caught a spliff of that attitude during the 2015 SXSW showcase. The band then released their debut album on cassette with the LA label, titled Sunnyside Rabbits, and are recording a new album as you read this, in between touring around the United States.
As their synchronized chaos ensues during live shows; with the help of a yelp and hymn of “AHHHH’s” pouring out of every member’s mouth.
As Summer contorts on stage in ways that James Chance would be proud of, all while opening for your favorite national psych rock acts and pushing the threshold for Florida representation, their sound lunges hard and fast- and what the band calls “rad city sticky pop,” is just that.
Plastic Pinks are the kind of gum you want stuck under your shoe. They’re bright and memorable, with just a hint of grit.
How did Plastic Pinks get started?
June Summer (vocals): I guess from the drive of wanting to play music and, you know, coming from not even knowing how to play instruments to just start writing songs. Slowly Augie learned guitar to be able to make this music. After that, we met up with Nico.
Nico Muyo (drums): We met at a tea shop and the tree of us just started jammin’
Augie Pink (guitar): Can’t get more rock n’ roll than the tea shop
Luigi La Rocca (guitar): Let me say this, all great things happen on accident. It was a random mistake.
Nico: I was job searching and I was gonna go this way or that way based on the weather. And it rained, so I had to go to the indoor searching first which was ultimately getting the tea shop job, the last job I applied for that day. And that’s where I met him [points at Augie] and everything fell into place because it rained that day.
And how was it for you [Augie] while learning guitar for the band?
Augie: I started playing guitar out of necessity. ‘Cause our past drummer from another band, he passed away. And then we were just there, you know my brother and i like doing nothing and I was like ‘man, give me a couple of months and I’ll learn the guitar.’ And then about a year afterwards I was playing the guitar kinda shitty, but we all started playing and it just fuckin’ happened.
Nico: You know what’s funny is that i feel like, all of us in this band, we’re super out of our comfort zone. Like the backgrounds we have and the instruments we played, no one’s doing that in this band. We’re all doing something that is not the thing we did initially on our own in the past in our individual histories. So that’s why everything sounds so weird, in a good way.
June: it’s more, for example, he started out with just the guitar, that was his instrument, coming into this band he started playing the drums and he’s just getting better and better every single time. But we clicked very well from the beginning and I think the energy just made it even better.
Augie: I think we relied on energy for the most part in the beginning. It was straight up, just, wanting to do it and wanting to play.
June: and another thing that really helps us is that we come from different backgrounds in music and from that we were able to make this sound. ‘cause at first Augie and I had a sound we were just looking for and that was it. And then from there we started building up and on the first album the original mindset of the time also was very simplistic, because of our limits at the time when it came to instruments.
Augie: I literally wrote a whole album on one chord and now we’re moving past it.
June: From there on we started moving up our sound and making it feel like a full band which at first was just the rhythm guitar and the drums. Then we had a rhythm guitar, beat guitar and the drums, but no bassist. The first album [Sunnyside Rabbits] was friends of ours helping us with the bass.
What happened with your previous bassist?
Luigi: We’ll he didn’t want to be in the band and there was just a bunch of things that led up to him not caring enough to keep up with us. That kind of showed up and we had a talk with him.
June: But I guess everything has worked out to the point where we are the band right now
Luigi: we sent him back to the factory and they sent us Dane.
June: Actually yeah. We’re really happy to have him; He has great energy, you know.
Nico: the thing is, every year we try to do tours, somebody gets shaken loose. That’s happened every year since we started.
Dane (bass): I’m actually training my replacement right now. He’s not as good as me yet, but he’s a lot better looking.
How did you guys meet Dane?
June: He used to play with Sonic Graffiti and they came down to play a show and from there he actually met Augie.They kept in contact and then later on we went to play in St. Petersburg, where they’re from, and we started creating this bond between St. Petersburg and Miami. And from there it kind of just started clicking. He had left Sonic Graffiti at the time and we were going through the bassists situation, and Augie and him used to joke around all the time about ‘oh you’re gonna be in Plastic Pinks…
Augie: -singing- It was never a joke!
Dane: It was like the Star Wars/Han Solo moment, where one day Augie came over to the house I lived at in St. Pete after a show and I was just kickin’ it with him. And on the fly, and on the sly, ‘cause he was talking about how things were kinda working funny, I was like, ‘yo, if you ever need a bass player I’ll move to Miami in a heartbeat.’ and he was like, ‘I know, baby!’ And that was it.
Augie : If you want a Han Solo moment, it was more like, “I love you.” “I know.”
June: And then from there it actually happened and now it’s been really good. He toured with us for the three-month tour we just did and that was great. We actually pushed the limits on ourselves as well because we didn’t know how it was gonna be for three months.
Luigi: -sarcastically- I’m still broken.
Who do you think is the best person you’ve opened for?
Augie: Best band? Thee Oh Sees ,for sure. I saw them live a couple of years ago here in Miami. And y’know, I love them, I wasn’t into them yet, and then I really got into them on the last tour we did and we actually opened for them on a tour date coming back. It was September 18th, I think. And man, they fuckin’ just blew me away. It was way more than i expected.
Dane: I think Sonic Graffiti was honestly the best band we’ve ever played with
June: The Ty Segall show was really good. I cracked my head open; it was really good.
Who would you want to open up for you?
Luigi: Michael Jackson if he was alive.
Augie: There’s this one band that’s probably the best band, or one of the best bands in Florida. They’re called Veiny Hands from St. Pete. They’ve already opened for us and they’re fucking incredible. I could vouch for them all the way; they are just fuckin’ making it happen.
June: I mean, there are people I wanna play with but I feel like I wanna be more part of the festivals that go on and play with the other bands. I feel like we are in it more where we like to experiment.
Maybe someone that pushes us to do more when it comes to the stage. So whoever is really active.
To be honest, I’d like to play right before Iggy Pop and the Stooges, just so I’d feel threatened incredibly. And I’d have to pull out all the stops and still not get there.
Nico: Whoever scares us or get us a little nervous, that’s who we wanna play for
Augie: Whatever scares you makes you stronger.
June: That’s what I feel the most, like, whoever makes me feel like i’m still not there. Whoever makes me feel that, that’s what i want.
Who are your influences? Who and what makes you play music?
Luigi: Waking up in the morning and having to live my life
June: For me it was really weird. What made me turn to rock n’ roll was someone that wasn’t really that rock ‘n roll. Just being a kid in Puerto Rico and being able to see Blind Melon when they when making it happen for themselves, that’s actually what turned me to rock.
Then I found Nirvana and whatever.
I found out really late of all the greatest because in Puerto Rico it was a little bit harder, like it trickles down little by little. But that’s what really made me fall in love with rock. As a performer, I feel like Michael Jackson was a really big thing, I feel Iggy Pop is a real good performer.
Augie: you know what really got me into rock? All jokes aside, the soundtrack to Forrest Gump. Put that on the motherfuckin’ record. It is the best soundtrack you could ever find from any movie. I’ve watched that movie more than 200 times with my dad since I was 12-years-old.
How’s the Puerto Rican scene?
June: At first it was really hard. Now, it’s really good.There’s a few bands: Las Abejas,Los Vigilantes, Davila 666. They’re [Davila 666] not playing anymore, but personally I think they’re the best over there. And there’s other types of music but still rock influenced there that are picking up as well.
It’s a really good place to have music now and there’s really good musicians there as well.
How about in comparison to Miami? (This question also goes out to Dane)
Dane: I really appreciate the Miami scene and really like a lot of the artists and bands that I’ve seen here.
Nico: It’s more disconnected, more spread out
Augie: I think it’s flourishing right now
June: I think it’s really strong. it’s just that people get distracted by all of the events that happen all the time and then maybe take it for granted.
People will show up for some shows and then won’t show up for other shows, but that doesn’t mean the scene is not good. It just means that people are doing other things at the same time.
But there’s very good bands here in Miami, there’s very good bands in St. Petersburg as well. I tend to think of the scene more as Florida instead of just Miami, especially because we have people coming down from St. Pete and we have people coming down from Ft. Lauderdale. We have people all around and we’re just moving around Florida.
I wish that we would connect a little bit more with the northeast, so that way it would be even bigger, but I feel like the middle west to Miami has been doing really good. But, you know, it’s something that still has space to flourish.
Dane: one thing that I did notice, though, when I moved here, that was really beautiful and inspiring, was that no matter where I went, or what venue, everyone seemed to be very interactive with one another and have everyone’s back.
Even though it was different musical taste or different bands, everyone was just kind of on board with each other and they were on the same side of making music for the sake of making music.
Luigi: Miami used to be separated. The punks used to beat people up and people used to fight at shows
Dane: It didn’t seem like that when I came here. The scene is a lot more wholesome.
June: Maybe like three years ago, it was still like that. Churchill’s was like a battle zone.
Luigi: I’ve been to Churchill’s and worn girl clothes and punks used to call me faggot, ‘cause I looked like a girl or whatever. And I still played shows.
Augie: I think it’s very hard to have a really connected scene in a very big city. So having that happen now and like slowly getting stronger is definitely something.
Dane: It seems like everyone was melting into each other and have a little influence of each other
Luigi: Miami is so fucking crazy because it’s another dimension. Everybody from here is not from here because they’re from somewhere else. So that means we’re from somewhere we’re not. And that means we are who we’re not, in a way.
Even though that doesn’t make any sense; we are who we are because we take this music other places and we think we would fit in ‘cause we play garage and we don’t sound like those bands at all.
They’re like ‘what the fuck is this. what is going on,’ and in Miami people are like ‘what the fuck is this, what is going on.’ so we’re aliens out there, too.
Our music doesn’t come from our scene, it doesn’t come from anyone else, it comes from what’s going on inside of us.
June: We’ve been described as “east coast garage rock” but when we go to NY we’re completely different from everyone!