On their debut, self-titled EP, Plea Unit showcases themselves as a supernatural supergroup. Endless Prowl handles the beats, layering eerie synths and crashing drums, forming an ear-catching middle ground between 90s Memphis rap and Twin Peaks. Teether and Bayang (tha Bushranger) juxtapose each other in their rap styles, with the former bringing baritone frenzies, and the latter lighting aggressive, ember-filled flurries akin to the golden era of gutter rap. It’s a unique mix of creatives already making strides in their respective solo careers, polymerising their passions into an off-kilter, otherworldly mix.
“It’s never fun being the main character,” Teether tells me throughout my conversation with the group on Zoom. This theory is evident, as no one jumps for the spotlight, instead opting to shine in unison throughout their collaboration. Plea Unit was formed during the peak of the COVID era, as a means to keep busy. The EP is a result of this triangle of productivity and creates a world that exists outside of reality, but often mirrors its bleakness. The quick-hitting project is accompanied by a visualiser courtesy of EndlessProwl, bringing the narrative into eye view, and manifesting into a barraging blockbuster.
Throughout our interview, Teether, Bayang, and EndlessProwl talk me through the creation of the EP, finding creativity during covid, and how even the scariest of things eventually become silly.
First and foremost, congrats on the project. How does it feel now that it’s out?
Bayang: I feel fucking relieved. It’s been two years in the making. Some of those tracks have been sitting around for a while. So it’s good that they’re now out there, and having a life of their own.
You guys formed this project during the peak of the COVID era. What was that like?
Teether: It was good because we needed shit to do. It kept us busy.
Bayang: I remember thinking I was going to be super productive during COVID, before finding out staring at a wall isn’t very creatively stimulating. It was like bleeding a stone to get bars out for Plea Unit.
EndlessProwl: Having the time was a nice luxury, because usually you get caught up, and have to catch up to yourself. There was an emphasis on making this project specifically about the music, as opposed to rushing it.
It truly wasn’t a great time for creativity. Can you guys speak more about how you found motivation during that period?
EndlessProwl: I mean the whole thing was insanity. I think I got a bit agoraphobic for a while, and it felt like it was all teetering on psychosis. I stayed motivated through VR sculpting because I find it quite mediative. That led to trying to make beats based upon those sculptures, interpreting them in that form.
Bayang: It was wild because it would occasionally dawn on you that you were living through a historical moment. Like, you’d look outside and see helicopters, and it would hit you. There was so much happening, and there was so much raw data that you could eventually turn into art. It was like a pressure cooker.
Teether: I feel like, during that time, I started a lot of projects, because I had all this time on my hands. It was a time of life that made you feel really insane.
We were getting lots of raw data at the time, but the data itself was kind of fucked.
Bayang: It reminded me of 90s death metal album covers; like the cover for something like Brutal Truth’s first album.
EndlessProwl: It all felt very intense. ‘Pressure cooker’ is the right way to describe it. Having these guys with me to stow me on I think was the only way I was able to keep creating beats at the time. It was very weird.
This EP is also supported by a slew of visual art, bringing the world of your imagination to life. The visuals connected to the project are still somewhat bleak, thus mirroring the reality you lived in during this project’s creation. At that point, does art still feel like a form of escapism?
Teether: Nah, you’re kind of customising your own hell. You can suffer the way you’d like to in this form. It’s very first person, and it was like creating theme songs for the world that we were making. Each song represents what the main character is going through, and it always sucks to be the main character.
Bayang: It’s similar to playing through a horror game like F.E.A.R or Resident Evil and then hacking it, so you can see the light green text.
EndlessProwl: We’re the first group to rap in morse code [Laughs]. They would send back lyrics, and then I was able to build more because of the characters they were creating. It was a situation where we were going back and forth.
Do you think there’s utility in customising the hell of your own reality?
EndlessProwl: Definitely, I feel like we’re all always doing that. My place right now feels like a product of me doing that because I’m still in Brunswick East [Laughs].
Teether: I feel like it helps you process and create a world on your own terms. It helps you order things in a way that makes sense. It can help you really figure shit out.
Bayang: Referring back to the metal ethos, it’s about bringing the brutal to the forefront, so you can look at it a bit more plainly, as opposed to it continuing to hide in the mist. The more we do this, the more I think we can twist and turn things to mirror reality a little less. That’s what I’m trying to do with the stuff I’m currently writing.
Teether, you told me in our last interview together that “we’re all out here so we can work out what feels right and find something wholesome.” Is there wholesomeness in the customised hell of Plea Unit?
Teether: I think so. During the creation of this project, I feel like we were all kind of our own brand of crazy. But when it comes to performing, this shit is just fun. It’s fun when you can make songs about the bleakness of real life, or a life you’ve created in your head, and then just have fun with it later and take the piss out of yourself.
Going back to horror video games, there comes a point where you realise in F.E.A.R, it’s just a little girl chasing you around, or in Slenderman, it’s just a giant dude in a suit. Is confronting scary stuff the thing that makes it no longer scary?
EndlessProwl: It’s always way more terrifying when you can’t see what’s attacking you.
Bayang: After you’ve lost the Slenderman game 50 times, his face isn’t scary anymore. You’re just like, “Fuck!”
Teether: Things are scary till they’re not anymore. After that, they’re just silly.
With the accompanying visualiser, this EP feels like a very grassroots combination of graphics and music; something I think we’ve seen diminish over the past year with things like streaming, and the grifting of NFTs. To you, what is the importance of that pairing?
EndlessProwl: I think we’re always striving for more, and in the experience economy, the main question is always “What’s next?” I think playing SOFT CENTRE really allowed us to explore something audiovisual that wasn’t just some sort of token, but a representation of ourselves, our friendship, and the way the tracks we made interact with each other. That was our first show together, but it felt like we’d been touring for years.
Bayang: Sometimes I feel down about the prospect of consuming life in micro-slices. So the fact that EndlessProwl was able to make a whole 18-minute visualiser for the EP was fucking hectic. There was so much deliberation that went into the narrative displayed; like a lot of back and forth on what this representation should consist of. It was fun because this wasn’t something that was made to just be scrolled past.
If you could describe the world that’s being created in the next chapter of the Plea Unit story, what would it look like?
Teether: There are a lot of Coopers.
EndlessProwl: Coopers, vacant planets, and video games.
Bayang: All I know is it’s in a gutter!