Rock Showcase 2016: Planet Pluto

Since Zach Funkhouser’s freshman year, he’s had his eyes on the Rock Showcase. But until his latest band, Planet Pluto, released its EP, it felt like an unreachable goal.

The EP was the fruit of more than six months of labor at a Nashville home recording studio, and it turned out to be what it took to get the band on the setlist of the 2016 Rock Showcase.

“We entered in our stuff, and they liked it enough that we were one of the eight bands chosen for live auditions,” Funkhouser said.

And suddenly, the band’s typical audience was smaller. Much smaller.

“It’s a little stressful because you’re in front of like 15 people, and it’s easier to play in front of a lot of people than 15 and a panel of judges watching you,” Funkhouser said.

But Planet Pluto, a rock band made up of Funkhouser, Max Zikakis, John Ottenlips and Sean Logan, made the cut and will be introducing itself to the showcase crowd on Saturday night.

First time listener will be entertained no matter what kind of music they like, since Planet Pluto is supposed to take the listener on a trip, said Funkhouser.

“It has a lot of elements of musicals and Broadway shows. We follow a very theatrical pattern. The music takes you on a journey.” Funkhouser said.

And for those tired of vapid pop hooks, Planet Pluto thinks it can provide some respite.

“We use a lot of conceptual and literary references. It’s tailored more to awkward, nerdy people. We’re making music for my people,” Funkhouser said.

As for the name, it was left over from a friend’s old rap group, and it resonated with Funkhouser.

“This was after we learned Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore. It captures how planet Pluto is the dwarf planet, and people don’t care about Pluto. We’re all really awkward and weird, and it represents us well,” Funkhouser said.

People might not care about the planet, but the band’s self-proclaimed awkward vibe and its mix of 90’s rock, country and rap guided by theatrical and orchestral influences gained the attention of the selection committee and could be reaching new places soon.

The band plans to branch out of Nashville and may even make it up to his home state of Virginia, said Funkhouser. No matter the stage, though, the message is the same.

“We’re just bunch of nerdy weird guys trying to make some rock ‘n’ roll,” Funkhouser said.

Catch Planet Pluto at the Rock Showcase on Saturday at 7 p.m.

This article was written by Jessica King. Image courtesy of CEMB Showcase Facebook page.

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