Indie-rock act Plain Speak nearly lost everything before it began 

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So much can be lost in a single moment. Singer Dan Pechacek and multi-instrumentalist Ben See had devoted over two years and every spare moment they had to recording their debut album as Plain Speak. Patchwork sessions helmed by See were done as Pechacek could return to Oklahoma while living out of state.

But when the tornado touched down in Moore in May 2013, its path tore right through See’s residence, and it was gone. Everything. All of it. Gone. The only thing left behind was the foundation and a few of Zach Nedbalek’s drum tracks.

The band was so close to finishing; an estimated 90 percent was done, but then there was nothing. Like so many of See’s neighbors, Plain Speak was forced to rebuild from the ground up.

“Obviously, it was a devastating blow in every way,” See said. “I had lost everything I owned, and to top that off, a record that I had been working on for two and a half years.”

But that dark cloud revealed an unseen benefit: a chance for a new start.

Plain Speak rallied together, deciding to have Michael Trepagnier engineer the record at his Cardinal Song studio, letting go of the past and feeling the songs more than overthinking them.

“When we realized it was gone, it was like, ‘Let’s do this again, but better this time,’” Pechacek said. “We had been trudging through the ending of that original album. Coming back to it, we knew the songs inside and out, and it was nice to go into the studio and just play them.”

The title of the album — Foundations — nods to the disaster that proved so instrumental to the course the album took. But it goes deeper than that. A natural name for a debut, it also hints at Plain Speak reconnecting with the emotions at the core of the “lyrically focused,” soul-baring songs that became all the more powerful in the wake of that devastation.

Drawn from a love of artists like Death Cab for Cutie, American Football and Fleet Foxes, those vulnerable narratives are delivered with a sonically lush, acoustic-driven aesthetic.

“Each one meant something fairly specific when they were written,” Pechacek said. “Over the years, they grew into a complex set of feelings. We did the best we possibly could with them.”

They’ve come out the other side as a new band now, especially with Pechacek back in Oklahoma and frequent live shows — including Thursday’s show with Single Mothers, Semblance and Hex at Norman’s Dope Chapel — revealing a more robust tone and attitude in line with the emo revival currently playing out. 2015 will be used to flex that muscle, with some regional touring and hopefully even a new EP.

“We like that energy,” Pechacek said. “We like that intensity. There’s an evolution happening, and it’s one we are really excited to ride out.”

Print head: Speaking up, After a tornado demolished its belongings — and seemingly, its career — Plain Speak has rebuilt itself from the ground up.

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