Clive Davis alum talks musical roots

Chris Duggan, center, is the lead guitarist and vocalist of PLAID BRIXX, which he founded in 2013.

Chris Duggan, an alumnus of NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music program, is currently the vocalist of the Ohio-based rock trio Plaid Brixx. Along with providing vocals for the band, Duggan also recently co-produced and wrote all five songs on Plaid Brixx’s EP, “Chemistry.” Duggan spoke with WSN to discuss his experience at NYU and its influence on his career.

WSN: What bands or artists have influenced Plaid Brixx’s style?
CD: It’s really hard to narrow this down, because you can draw inspiration from almost anything. I would say Blink-182 was my biggest influence growing up, especially when you consider that they are the reason why I picked up a guitar in the first place. In terms of my current band, I would say it is influenced primarily by Muse, Nine Inch Nails and Max Martin.

WSN: How did your studies at Clive Davis affect your artistic goals?
CD: When I entered college as an idealistic and perhaps naïve young Midwestern boy, I had a lot of preconceived yet hard-clutched notions about music — especially regarding authenticity in music and what constituted real music versus fake music. I thought anything without rock guitar was absolute garbage, and looking back I am definitely not proud of that, but I am so glad I don’t hold that opinion now. I suppose one of the things I learned from the Clive Davis program was to appreciate all kinds of music — and my own writing has become infinitely better because of it. I also decided to become more of a pop artist — something that 15-year-old me would scoff at — because it would allow me to be much more diverse in the scope of my writing. I can also say with certainty that I would not be thinking about my music as a business and me as a business owner without the guidance of the Clive program.

WSN: Plaid Brixx originally played music together in high school. What has it been like to reunite and create new types of music with each other?
CD:  It is a wonderful feeling being able to reconnect with old friends and pick up right where you left off. Mark and Cole are the best company and such gifted musicians. I find it so strange that I spent all this time trying to put together the right band in New York City — a place where everyone’s roommate is a musician — but the right people were under my nose the entire time.

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WSN: Do you have a favorite memory from your time at NYU? If so, what is it?
CD: I don’t mean to sound cliché, as I am sure everyone has a large collection of fond memories from their college days, but I have a ton of amazing memories from NYU. Every time I am in town for business, I make sure to walk around the Village because everywhere I go, I have flashbacks.

WSN: What can be expected from Plaid Brixx in the near future?
CD: We have been working like mad men on a new EP and next week I am going to LA to finish the first two songs. They were picked out of dozens of 90 percent finished songs, so you know they are great, although it breaks my heart every time we make a song that we aren’t going to use — I get so attached.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 31 print edition. Email Allison Stubblebine at [email protected] 

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