With college graduation on the horizon, Enumclaw native and current Whitman College senior Adrian Tuohy is getting ready to take his band, Plateau, on the road this summer along the Pacific Coast from Washington down into California.
On a trip home in February, Tuohy chatted with Patch and recalled playing with his band, which he formed with his friends Alex Folkerth, Allen Mitchell and Matt Sweeney, at local bars like the Roadhouse -- now -- around Enumclaw.
They were all still students at Enumclaw High School and therefore unable to partake in the various adult refreshments available at such establishments.
“There’s a law that you can play in the stage area as long as you’re not drinking,” Tuohy remembers. “It’s really hard when you’re underage.”
This coming June, it will be just about four years since Tuohy graduated from high school.
Like all high school seniors, he prepared to enter as a freshman that fall at Whitman and figured it was right to put his high school life behind him before taking that next step, including his band.
To his surprise, Folkerth and Sweeney, who graduated a year after him, decided to go to Whitman as well. With his freshman year behind him, Tuohy was excited the band was getting back together. “It was always the band that I really loved. I played in different groups before but it never really clicked until Plateau. I though, ‘maybe I could keep doing this for a while.’ I’m glad we kept going.”
While the boys majored in subjects like economics, rhetoric, film studies and history, it was all about the music outside of class.
“We play all the time,” Tuohy said. “Honestly it’s my main focus. I do my schoolwork but music is what’s on my mind. We’ve played around campus and around the Northwest at different schools -- mostly small venues in the last couple of years.”
The creative process was simple: Tuohy typically writes the songs and takes them to the band for their input. “Everybody contributes to the sound,” he said. “Without Alex and Matt, we wouldn’t have the sound we have today. Alex’s drumming is really what shapes our band – he plays like Dave Grohl from Nirvana.”
In fact, Tuohy has been writing songs since about age 7. “I wanted to be like John Lennon,” he said. “I love ‘A Hard Days Night,’ and ‘Revolver’ … and ‘The White Album.’”
He and Mitchell formed their first band together when they were 11 or 12 and it was Mitchell who came up with the band name Plateau – both in honor of where the boys lived as well as a Meat Puppets song also called ‘Plateau’ which was also covered by Nirvana – two bands the boys greatly admired, Tuohy said.
They also looked to punk in the form of The Clash and The Replacements while blending a unique sound that also incorporates The Beatles and various music from the 60s. “We loved punk rock when we were younger,” he said. “We’d play the Ramones, especially when you’re young and in a band you can’t play anything technical. But it really shaped our sound today.”
It’s a sound that students in and around Pullman have become acquainted with thanks to the band’s many performances at local venues around campus, such as Valhalla Bar & Grill, a band favorite. “It’s just a great turnout,” Tuohy said. “Everyone we go to Pullman, it’s great. The crowds at Wazzu are always fun. … We always have a good time.”
And even as graduation approaches, Tuohy isn’t so much concerned about say, what he’ll do with his economics degree as he is with marketing his band. “Right when I get out, I just want to … we’re going on tour. We’re going to try and distribute our record as much as we can, on college radio all over the country. We want to get some exposure and have a good time too. Hopefully we can do this for a living – this is what I really love to do.”
At present, Mitchell has departed the band and Sweeney will not accompany them on their summer tour. Patrick Miller will fill his position on bass guitar and backing vocals.
The band hopes to make a stop in their hometown here in Enumclaw during their summer tour. Tuohy estimates it will likely be in early June, and it’ll be another opportunity to stroll down memory lane.
After all, Tuohy took guitar lessons at Enumclaw Music. He played in the high school jazz band with fellow bandmates Folkerth and Sweeney. Teacher Vic Wallace used to check out the band at some of their local gigs.
The community would surely welcome the boys back for an encore performance – and maybe even buy them a round afterwards.
Listen to complete songs by Plateau and check out where they'll be playing next at Reverb Nation.
Find Plateau on Facebook.