Punch And The Apostles
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Punch And The Apostles

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Exclusive Punch & The Apostles Are Scotland's Most Exciting And Provocative New Band

LIVING up to their name, unsigned Scots band Punch & The Apostles have delivered a knockout blow to Scotland's current
musical successes.

When asked what the seven-piece gypsy rabble-rousers think of KT Tunstall, The Fratellis and The View, lead singer Paul Napier sneered: "I wouldn't call it music, I'd call it fashion." Having seem them at a battle of the bands night in Glasgow's ABC (they won but didn't stick around to be congratulated) Punch & The Apostles are Scotland's most exciting new band.

They love being different. Of the Oasis and Franz Ferdinand clones littering the music scene, Paul said: "We have utter contempt for those kind of bands. We see ourselves as very different. "People may like our music or they might be offended by it, confused by it or upset by it." Bass player Rory Hayejahans added: "We have no interest in 4/4 chord songs. We have all these instruments so it's a shame not to use them."

Whether you hear them or read about them, the Glasgow-based group will polarise opinion. They consist of Paul (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Rory (bass), Doug Macgregor (drums), Ross Flemming (accordion, percussion), Chas T Frazer (trumpet), Craig Nelson (alto sax) and Paul's sister Juliana (violin, tenor sax).

Their debut single, Asylum, is out on Monday on Lucky Number 9, a small local label and they will launch it tomorrow night at Glasgow's Nice 'n Sleazy. The single was produced by Mark Freegard, who has worked with Manic Street Preachers, Marilyn Manson, The Breeders, Del Amitri and The Who's Pete Townshend. Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chief's management are keen to sign them.

And no wonder. With influences including The Birthday Party and Tom Waits, their music has touches of Eastern European folk, punk, blues and is peppered with images of chaotic vaudeville. Paul, who has something of the young Manics' singer James Dean Bradfield about him, recorded an acoustic album called Stuttering Hand at 19 before forming the band with Doug and Rory last year. Rory, who'd dropped out of uni was working at The Halt Bar in Glasgow when he met Paul, then studying for a degree in philosophy.

The bass player, who grew up in Crieff, home also to Ewan McGregor, knew drummer Doug, from Glenalmond. Paul was born in Canada, lived in Saudi Arabia and moved to Edinburgh at 11. Their interest in music that wasn't the straight-up rock blueprint was born from the trio moving about, absorbing other musical styles. Rory said: "Paul, Doug and me had three practises together and then played a festival we had at The Halt Bar. "After another break when Paul went to visit his dad in China we started working hard and more people joined." Paul explained why the band chose to name themselves Punch & The Apostles: "Because of the pantomime nature of The Bible. Jesus was a clown-like figure, doomed to die for the imaginary sins at the heart of the vast cosmological puppet show."

Part of their prize at the ABC battle of the bands was getting into the studio with Mark and the partnership has worked well. Paul added: "He lets us play everything live. That's what we like. That's what bands do. If I'm playing, I want to play live, surely."

With seven members of the band, you'd have thought Paul would have to rule with an iron fist. But he claims it's a democracy.
He added: "The band has a lot of very different people. I don't know if it works but it exists having all these people on stage."

There have been lots of bands over the years that have claimed they were different and not managed to cross from unknown to commercially successful. Punch & The Apostles are different. Not only do they sound different but they look different. Rory added: "I suppose it is us against the rest. But that would imply we care or think about them more than we do. I hope people will see the difference. "We want to control things ourselves. Our plan is to get a van and head off and see what happens." Asylum is out on Monday.The band play Nice 'n Sleazy tomorrow.

- The Daily Record


IT'S time to make a stand against mediocrity in music, and where better to start than with these two bands Edinburgh's Henry's Cellar Bar?
As Britain once more falls under the spell of The X Factor, with its pop pap by the bucketload , last night's gig showed that, here at least, there's still room for something unique.

First up was Rodent Emporium, a four-piece alternative punk band, whose first album, Music Without Fear of Reprimand, and a recent US tour has seen them gain some recognition from record labels in Nashville, and rightly so. With no pretensions of being anything other than entertaining, they took the centre of what little stage there was, then promptly left it, deciding to shake and judder into the audience instead.

Thanks to a set packed with fast, short songs, typified by the aggressive Mystery Bum – all guitars and harsh vocals from Stuart Gilmore – their energy levels were always in evidence. By the end of their set the crowd were happy to do a bit of impromptu karaoke as Gilmore passed around the mic for a chorus from Super Adventure Club.

Next on were Glasgow-based Punch and the Apostles, a seven-strong outfit whose repertoire brings new meaning to the word eclectic. Keyboard, drums, guitars, saxophone, a bit of trumpet and a heavy dose of accordion shouldn't really go together, but it was so extreme that it somehow worked.

Bavarian-inspired medley's segued into fairground ride melodies and punk, songs such as Womb Grave benefiting from an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style of composition that got the crowd dancing.

Lead singer Paul Napier offered some wild flourishes throughout, all the more impressive in the confined space of Henry's.

While ITV1 may not be the next stop for the Rodents, it might not be long before the masses catch on to Punch and the Apostles who have the original X Factor in spades.

- Edinburgh Evening News


As The Mill rolls into action for month two, Finbarr Bermingham discusses the soundbites of Benny Hill and Jesus Christ with one of the month's guaranteed highlights, Punch & The Apostles

"Just playing fast and loose with Jesus really," comes the deadpan response from Paul Napier, lead singer of Glaswegian septet Punch and the Apostles. The question, of course, was referring to their unusual band name. "It's up to other people to read into it," he continues when pushed to develop his explanation. "We view the Bible as a comedic text: instead of a tragic figure, we see Jesus as a Benny Hill-type figure. He's got some pretty good soundbites."
Napier's monotone conversation is miles from his more choral work. In fact, he's so impassive, it's difficult to know whether he's being wholly irreverent or taking the piss. As he continues to give his views on modern music, though, it seems likely to be a combination of both.
"Music died in 1943! After Edith Piaf's fifth marriage things really started to go downhill."
I'm speaking to Napier and his bandmate, bassist Rory Hayejahans, ahead of their double header at The Mill this month. "Paul thinks all music is dead at the moment," explains Hayejahans later in the conversation. But it's obvious that despite having played the local scene in this incarnation for just six months, Punch and the Apostles ain't impressed.
"The bands getting talked about are not the bands that I'm interested in. But at the same time there are some friends of ours that are starting to get some exposure and do well, but there's really nothing I'm much interested in in Glasgow."
Napier's assessment, however, is slightly more condemning. "In Glasgow, the vast majority is based on a copycat scene," he asserts, "there's this whole 80s thing, where people get a synthesiser and play dance music. If Franz Ferdinand are doing well, they start playing angular guitar pop. It's very rarely you see a band you like, I can't remember the last time I did. Well, maybe Super Adventure Club. We played with them last week, they're good."
Listening to the songs Punch and the Apostles have made available on MySpace would lead you to conclude that they're the latest in a line of ragamuffin bohemian types: hung up on polka and romanticism. Napier however, is unimpressed. "In a way that sort of characterisation has gained a precedence that's not warranted, there are four or five [tracks] that could be regarded as Eastern European, but it's not the main influence that runs through our music."
Despite their rejection of it, though, it's not an assessment the band are uncomfortable with. We can call them whatever we want we're told, as long as we're listening to their music. The problem is; how do they reach us? P & tA have released their debut single on local imprint Lucky Number Nine and plan a similar release for single number two in the near future. With enough material recorded for two albums, however, the band is starting to think long term.
"Well, record labels are just crumbling edifices. There's not much behind them and they're not interested in putting money and effort behind developing bands. Nobody's buying fucking records anyway. So we're probably going to have to do it ourselves; play lots of shows and put our work out."
Napier's appraisal of the industry is almost as scathing as his evaluation of the Glasgow scene. Disgruntled, aye, but far from disillusioned. At a time when labels are warier than ever over having their fingers burnt, P & tA realise their unique and unconventional compositions represent a high risk, but remain undeterred.
"If we wanted to be millionaires we would've sold nuclear arms or pharmaceuticals. If you wanna be a millionaire, stay away from the music business right now. These people are unscrupulous bastards!" The band are determined, then, to stick by their guns and continue making intelligent and uncompromising music safe in the knowledge that Punch and the Apostles aren't going to be lining the pockets of any man in a suit just yet.

- The Skinny


Claire Sawers meets Glasgow’s own gypsy folk punk mash-up septet
‘We’re not exactly palatable, but not immediately repulsive,’ suggests lead singer Paul Napier, to sum up the sound of Punch and the Apostles, the Glasgow seven-piece who’ve been bringing chaos to traditional folk music for almost a year now. Mashing up gypsy violins, flamenco guitars and frantic klezmer trumpets, PATA’s fashion-dodging approach to the music industry means they can blast out noises from a circus freak-show or bull-fight one minute, then whisk their crowd to a drunken bar mitzvah in bohemian Montmartre the next.
‘There’s a definite anti-commercial approach to what we do,’ says Napier, who plays guitar and keyboards while the others juggle diving bells, accordions and something called a ‘spinning jenny’ to create their old-fashioned, upbeat and riotous noise. ‘We’re sneaking old musical styles back in like a Trojan horse,’ he adds, explaining their weird hybrid of Tom Waits’ theatricality with tango, polka, Eastern European or blues styles. ‘We want to revive old music forms that people might have wrongly dismissed as boring.’
‘We’re not into slickness,’ points out his sister Juliana, PATA’s only female, and a fan of bands like Gogol Bordello and A Hawk and a Hacksaw. ‘So we wouldn’t want Timbaland producing our stuff. It’s very important for us to stay in control.’ Franz Ferdinand’s management are rumoured to have approached them, but they are still unsigned, giving them free reign to mess around with their fast-paced cacophony of styles. ‘There’s a lot of tripping over instruments when we perform live,’ says Juliana, ‘but that doesn’t stop us from dancing.’
Punch and the Apostles play Oran Mor, Glasgow, Wed 17 Sep and The Caves, Edinburgh, Thu 18 Sep, as part of The Mill. Their second single, ‘I am a Hobo’ will be launched at Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 18th Oct.

- The List


Review date: October 18 2008

Author: Bluesbunny Prime


Pass by the vegetarians and descend into the depths of Stereo. Load up with some Guinness and see what happens. Reviewing isn't a science, it's a conceptual thing. Just like world peace.

Supporting Punch and the Apostles tonight are the Tuberians. It doesn't take long to figure out that they are actually from Edinburgh. There are a lot of then - 7 in fact - and they sound like they are playing the soundtrack to some movie about life in a Parisian bazaar. All sorts of influences - African, Middle Eastern, European - are mixed into their musical broth but the best was saved to the end with the old style, call and response charms of "Party on the Farm" stealing the show.

To the main event. Punch and the Apostles take to the stage that has been decorated to match the design of the sleeve for their new single "I'm a Hobo". How to describe this band? A 7 piece - there's that number again - on a mission to cause a sonic cataclysm, perhaps. Sure there is wanky jazz in there but the end result is a lethal concoction that is barely contained by the four walls of the venue. Hardly pausing for breath, they play like they are directly connected to the mains with the sheer energy emanating from the stage providing guaranteed refreshment to tired ears. Theatrical, but in a good way, you are easily led to the conclusion that the inmates have truly taken over the asylum. Dance you fool, for you have no other choice.

You know what the worrying thing about tonight was? The less than spectacular attendance. The hall was barely a quarter full. Now, I don't know what you were doing that was more important than being at this gig - maybe drinking Miller Lite and texting your friends about all the sex that you nearly got last night but music, like the fields, needs tended or it will wither and die. Well, actually attended rather than tended but I was on a metaphorical roll. So Glasgow, get off yer lardy arses and go see some live music.

- Bluesbunny


Discography

Asylum - released on Lucky Number 9
I'm A Hobo - released on Lucky Number 9

(both played on Radio 1/Radio Scotland/XFM Scotland)

Neuf Janvier - Art Goes Pop compilation

Tie Me To The Mast - available on tentracks.co.uk

Music Hall - available on tentracks.co.uk

Photos

Bio

Brilliantly rousing and gloriously anarchic, Punch And The Apostles are a riotous seven piece, with accordions and horns to the fore, led by the wild creativity of a spindle-framed chaos-merchant. Writer and singer Paul Napier appears able to compose in any style and If ever a band typified the pointless inconsequence of blunt categorisation it would be Punch and The Apostles. Their mighty sound and genre-busting approach has already garnered much in the way of plaudits and accolade, receiving notable air time from the likes of Vic Galloway (Radio 1) and Jim Gellatly (Radio Scotland) and Tom Robinson (Radio 6)

Together just over a year, they have already scraped, scooped, gouged and gashed a niche for themselves; performing around 60 gigs, putting out two 7′′ vinyl releases (‘Asylum’ and ‘I’m a Hobo’ on Lucky no.9), two download singles with 10 Tracks.com (‘Tie Me To The Mast’ and ‘Music Hall’) and one single (‘Neuf Janvier’) on a CD compilation for Art Goes Pop, featuring the best of new Scottish bands. They have also played a Radio 1 live session, along with various other significant gigs including the Connect, Belladrum and Lochlomond Live festivals, the Edinburgh Festival launch party 2008, and the annual PRS showcase for the best in emerging talent.

At present their phenomenal debut album (Punch and the Apostles) recorded with producer Mark Freegard (Manic Street Preachers, The Breeders) is ready and waiting for release, while a second is gestating at turbo speed. Their reputation as a provocative, dynamic, challenging and dare-we-mention unpredictable live band has seen them build up a loyal and excited following in a matter of months. Having just returned from doing a solid week of gigs across London, they are now working on a new project involving a 45 minute piece of music set to mind-bending visuals, to be presented to an unsuspecting public later in the year. Festivals, lots more recording and a trip to Europe are also on the agenda. So we urge you to have a listen and take a look because with such a passionately uncompromising approach to making music, they are creating some of the most innovative and original songs you will ever hear.