By Charlotte Alexander | Go Venue Magazine
You can’t open Pandora’s Box without expecting a little hellfire to be unleashed and Moriah Formica, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of PLUSH, didn’t just pry it open, she owns the damn thing. She can’t really put those fiery powerhouse vocal chords back in any kind of a box to remain hidden from the world, Anymore.
And she may appear tiny with her 4-foot-11-inch frame, but her range rivals legends, and her presence shadows giants when she has something to say. This pint-sized belter is on her way to soaring past the limits of where Icarus burned his wings.
After dropping the single ‘Athena’ at the tailend of the year, it became obvious that a welcoming to the metal world was warranted. Executing the first song flawlessly, it’s evident that there are new rising masters in metal music and youth isn’t their only weapon. They actually possess the talents to dominate a legitimate climb to the top of Metal Mount Olympus.
All the world is their stage right now with the Spotify streaming of their debut self-titled PLUSH album and the parts they’re playing are magnified by dispelling any preconceived notions about their abilities. Girls Can Play. Girls Can Rock. Girls can take the stage and blow an audience away, and these GIRLS, all four who are fierce in their forceful forward march, are unapologetic in how hard they rocked Rocklahoma last year.
“That was an awesome show to be on the same lineup as legends, some of our idols,” Moriah said. “That audience was freakin amazing.”
Delicate doesn’t describe them. They are not confined to fragility. The 3 New Yorkers and 1 Maine resident can be referred to as charming in an interview, but under-estimating them onstage or discounting the strengths of their skills in a studio would be your first mistakes.
These rising metal goddesses, just barely 21-years-old and under, know their crafts and they’ve pieced together an everlasting cobblestoned performance map in a live show that builds momentum, starting out subtle, almost like a teasing warm up, before igniting the stage on fire and releasing an impressive cloud of blazing volcanic rock permeating over an astonished crowd. The smoldering ash layers continue with every set offering higher octane, more furious fuel, unrelenting instrumental power and vocals that elevate to a stellar degree of difficulty, which Formica conquers, effortlessly with her incredible mountainous range. They know how to hook you in the beginning, keep you intrigued in the middle, and close out a show, saving the best for last, building the blistering blocks themselves.
Drummer Brooke Colucci, who was featured in the May 2021 issue of Modern Drummer, and was named as one of seven female YouTube drummers you must know by Grammy.com, said they’ve dealt with some misconceptions about the all girls metal group.
“One is, we’ll hear ‘wow, you were all really good,’ and another is that we’re miserable because we don’t smile in a lot of pictures,” she said, and she squashes them as myths.
“Those are the two biggest preconceived notions, that we’re not going to perform well and that we’re not having any fun. We’re having fun,” Brooke insists. “Even though I’m in the back, behind the kit, I see it, I feel it. When the crowd is into your music, there’s a certain vibe and I feel it,” she explained of a live audience. “There’s nothing like it.”
Brooke began her fascination with the skins at a birthday party when she was just 6-years-old. It was a Rock ‘N Roll themed party and the kids were invited to try various instruments. She went straight for the drums and hasn’t really set the sticks down since. She also said her father is a huge GODSMACK fan and that’s trailed in to her drumming skills some. She doesn’t slouch behind those beats. She’s hitting it hard and she claims it’s the styles of the greats that put her on the metal path of potential domination.
“Shannon Larkin of GODSMACK, Danny Carey from Tool, Neil Peart from Rush, Jon Bonham are definitely my top influences,” Brooke said. “Our goals, I’d say, hopefully, is that this sparks a wave of women in rock ‘n roll, that we inspire people to pursue rock. It is totally a male dominated thing and honestly, just to share our music with the world, connecting with people and to apply it to their life, that’s what we hope to achieve. Don’t listen to anybody else that says ‘you can’t do that, you’re a girl,’ – ignore them. If you love playing your instrument, just go with it. Don’t care what anybody else has to say, just do you and be yourself.”
It’s not just young angst that came screaming out of the PLUSH album released late last fall. The four-member all female metal group are proving they belong onstage, performing, recording and delivering a thrash lashing to any audience that appreciates talent, artistic expression, music.
Preparing to hit the stage to open for Doro, to make their debut, that first show was canceled due to a global pandemic, but it gave PLUSH some more time to perfect their performance and bond, being a brand new band that just began in 2020, with challenges in finding open venues due to shutdowns worldwide.
Slowly creeping back to an inhabitable atmosphere, doors began opening again and in 2021, they stormed every stage they could get on. Expect to hear a lot more from them this year.
In their downtime, they worked on their album material and some cover songs. Their rendition of Heart’s ‘Barracuda,’ which they shared in the sweltering heat at Rocklahoma, is phenomenal. My advice is to find that live performance video on YouTube and view it with some kickass headphones. I believe ‘Holy Shit!’ was just one of the things I said out loud when previewing their musical background and it came somewhere in the middle of their Rocklahoma performance video. Just when you think it can’t get any better, it Does!
“Rocklahoma was awesome,” Moriah said. “I think the thermometer on the stage read like 112 or 116 degrees. It was so hot, but like Brooke was saying about that vibe. I definitely feel it. It’s a vibe that’s unexplainable, like we’re one big metal family. That’s how I feel personally. For me, I love connecting with the crowd. Everybody seems so happy to be there and I love feeding off that energy.”
Asked where she got those molten pipes from and Moriah quips, “I don’t know! I didn’t talk at all when I was younger. I didn’t even talk to people. I never really sang in front of anybody until I was 9-years-old and I only noticed it when other people started noticing it. Once I figured out I had a voice, I started getting vocal lessons at 10, or 11. I only stopped a few months ago, only because of our touring schedule. I think it’s important to have a vocal coach no matter what stage you’re at.”
Those natural bred vocals handed from the heavens landed Moriah on The Voice in 2017, serving as one of the youngest contestants on the show, coming in the top 20, and although she didn’t walk off that stage the winner, she went home with some experience and exposure that helped her get some local gigs before fronting the all-girl band PLUSH in 2020.
“It really helped kickstart my career at 16, to do music for real,” Moriah said of the nationally televised vocal talent show. “I had been performing some since I was 11, but the exposure opened so many doors and I feel that experience on The Voice helped prepare me for PLUSH. I definitely wouldn’t be the musician I am today without that experience.”
Inspired by Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, and a complimentary vocal comparison can be made there, Moriah also credits Amy Lee of Evanescence as major players in the formation of the empire she may one day rule.
“I’m heavily influenced by both of those two,” Moriah said. “My dad loves classic 80s hairbands, late 70s classics, SkidRow, Poison, Aerosmith. With the band, I write the lyrics and the chords, the melodies and we’ll run different ideas. Everybody puts their own twist on it and they play their leads, their bass. It just all comes together in the studio.”
Playing guitar before she knew she could sing, she credits her music loving family and the influence of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry when she was just 5, 6 years old.
“It was Aerosmith’s Joe Perry that inspired me to pick up the guitar, which inspired my entire musical journey,” Moriah said.
It’s mesmerizing how well she’s adapted to it. It’s become second nature to flash that axe and she doesn’t carry that rock alone. Sharing the stage is lead guitarist Bella Perron, a student at Berklee College of Music. She slays the strings and back up vocals, bringing her own empire building blocks to entertain the growing legion of spectators. Her metal handprints are all over the album and she’s a reckoning in her own right.
Something you can’t miss on the album is the almost mythical arrangements by bassist Ashley Suppa. What’s metal without bass? She’s often described as the “female Cliff Burton” and she’s been noticed by KISS rockstar Ace Frehley who invited her to assist with her skills on backing vocals for his solo album ‘Anomaly.’
They each bring something significant to the collective table and you can rest your gaze on any one of them, individually, to be entertained. Together, it’s a metal music takeover. These girls of PLUSH, which they claim that the name is an intentional deception because they’re the exact opposite of something soft and cuddly that describes them, are set to perform at Rockville this spring.
“We have a headlining show in New York on February 11th, and then we go on tour with Flash,” Brooke said. “We’ll do more festivals, Welcome to Rockville. Yeah, there’s more to come.”
The album that they’re in the process of promoting doesn’t sound like a freshman debut. It’s got soul, ballads, and heavy metal tendencies. There’s hard rock with some bluesy flares and it’s passionate, but not reserved. They don’t hold back with what they’re capable of and I don’t believe for a minute that we won’t continue to be amazed with what comes next as they level up and make their presence known.
The song ‘Sober’ should be all over the radio, yesterday. It’s radio ready, relevant and rocks. Just hit play. The ending bassline is perfection.
“Sober is about terrible habits that seep into every part of somebody’s life,” Moriah explained. “It affects your relationships and you say stuff you don’t mean, but it’s gonna be okay the next day, and you end up saying more stupid things to people that you love. The song that meant the most when I was recording it was ‘Don’t Say That,’ because it’s just really an emotional song for me. I had a lump in my throat at the time in recording it. It’s the one I emotionally connect with the most.”
‘Champion’ is another good roll on the 13 track PLUSH album. ‘Walk Away’ is a powerful end to 49 minutes of different destinations with rising tides of total high impact energy, melodic riffs, downshifts and bass and drum heartbeats wrapped in effort, talent, overwhelming skills, and a road for more females to follow in their deep and solidifying tracks.
“I love music, love performing, love my bandmates,” Moriah said. “I love what we’re doing right now. If you’re not authentic, it’s not long lasting. I follow my gut and it’s working out for me. It’s always a positive outcome. Your gut doesn’t lie. Don’t listen to people who say you shouldn’t do this or do that. ‘Why don’t you smile when you play?’ You don’t have control over what people say, put that aside. Be confident in yourself and focus on people who love you just the way you are. I hope to influence all kinds of girls into picking up instruments and seeing what they can do with them.”
I’d catch PLUSH now while they’re climbing mountains because they could easily be headlining every major rock and metal festival very soon, and you’ll end up in the nosebleed sections, but they’ll offer an engaging and enchanting performance no matter how far from the stage you are. In the meantime, check out their newly released PLUSH album.
These metal rockers can’t be put in a box. They have the potential to become major players in the music world and we’ll be hearing a lot more raging riffs, coordinated chords, blasting beats and scorching vital vocals from PLUSH.