The Extraordinaires
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The Extraordinaires

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Comedy


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"Free and legal MP3: The Extraordinaires (wry rocker w/old-timey, theatrical feel)"

With the oompah feel of a music-hall standard, “The Big Show” dresses its quizzical take on 21st-century life in a ramshackle aural stew as musically charming as it is lyrically caustic. Look no further than the opening salvo to see what we’re in for:

We say it like it’s true then watch it put down its roots
And blossom from the gossip into truth
We’re in the weeds up to our knees
It’s hard to tell the poison from the fruit

The chorus, meanwhile, has an uncomfortable resonance with the news we’ve been watching this week:

Look out below
The whole damn thing’s about to blow
Gone are all the good days but hey
At least we get to watch the show

We’ve got here a corollary to the happy music/sad lyrics phenomenon that pop can handle like no other kind of music—this is more like comic music/tragic lyrics but the underlying incongruity is the same, as well as the appeal. Singer Jay Purdy has the air of a mischievous master of ceremonies, and a voice somewhat resembling John Linnell from They Might Be Giants. Which adds to the whimsical vibe. Oh and be sure not to miss the last 40 seconds, which sounds as if we have landed in a cartoon. All we need to top it off is Porky Pig saying “Th-th-th-at’s all, folks!”

The Extraordinaires began as a duo in South Philly in 2004. They had expanded to a quartet by 2007, and in 2010 solidified into a five-man band. They have previously released albums that were produced as books bound in masonite (think of what a clipboard is made of; that’s it). “The Big Show” is a song from the band’s new three-song EP, Postcards, released on the Philadelphia-based label Punk Rock Payroll. - Finger Tips

"The Extraordinaires return home, relase new single..."

Just before the Philly-based rock act wraps up its spring tour, it has made “Laugh Out Louder”—the second track from the band’s three-song Postcard EP (on Punk Rock Payroll)—available for free. You can give it a listen below. - WXPN

"The Extraordinaires: The Sound of Street Music"

When the temperatures are a little more friendly, the streets of downtown Bloomington can sometimes host impromptu jam sessions.

This was the case in September 2010, when The Extraordinaires parked their van in a prime location and turned a street corner into their own concert stage.

While on tour, the group booked a last-minute show at The Bishop with no advance notice or publicity. As such, they were playing their music on the corner of Kirkwood and Grant Streets in the hopes of convincing some passers-by to attend the show that evening.

I asked them to give me their pitch.

We have flyers and he has a sword fish guitar. I play the trumpet. We have a gun with 9MM blanks that we like to fire off during the show. There will be confetti. And we also play music!

The Extraordinaires are from Philadelphia. They list their influences as everything from ragtime and country to the Muppets—and maybe 1990’s R&B artists and fellow Philadelphia natives Boyz 2 Men. Their rendition of Boyz 2 Men’s 2003 hit “Motown Philly” was the most popular request of the afternoon.

The Extraordinaires will be back in Bloomington for a show at the Bishop on Saturday, March 5. If the weather is nice, consider taking a stroll downtown that afternoon. Perhaps you’ll catch the band performing another informal set on an unsuspecting street corner. - Indiana Public Media: Arts & Music

"Spotlight on The Extraordinaires"

When we caught up with Jay Purdy and Matt Gibson of The Extraordinaires last night, they were en route to a community theater performance of Ribbons of War, the full-scale “tragic romantic opera” written by he and his fellow band members in 2007. Just having finished a similar concept-album, Electric and Benevolent based on the life of Nikola Tesla, the band has proven itself to be a thorough creative force, with their talents stretching from music to drawing to screenprinting and bookbinding (Electric and Benevolent comes in a handmade silkscreened book). Long-time South Philly residents, Mambo movers, and members of both the South Philadelphia Athenaeum and The Philadelphia Institute for Advanced Study their songs and shows give you a chance to see a couple of performers who have maintained a tether to a wonderfully refreshing sense of sincerity.
Just off playing a couple of dates with Gogol Bordello last week, they play tonight at Johnny Brenda’s with Real Estate ($10, 9pm) - Philebrity

"The Extraordinaires: Daytrotter Session"

There are times in listening to the work of Philadelphia band The Extraordinaires that you feel like you're sailing the seas of cheese or getting into the lives Winona and her big brown beaver, or the other characters made out of modeling clay, coming to life in the prog-rock world of Primus, but that same silliness is nonexistent. Or it's not as thick. There are countless characters that are written as these examples of human tragedy and comedy - scrappy animals and plants who are suddenly faced with intricate problems that cause heart attacks, high blood pressure and divorces. They are faced with alienation and struggles that will always be present as there are no antidotes. It's not at all a way of making a landscape of ridiculous puppetry or absurdist fiction for lead singer and songwriter Jay Purdy, but his way of tackling some substantial social issues and natural weirdness that scrambles all of us into punch drunk zombies - money, love, power, and status. He uses cacti, chickens and mythological figures from ancient Greek literature to demonstrate the oddity of it all and then sets them into bumping, cheerful arrangements that run the gamut through early Flaming Lips psychedelia, via albums like "Clouds Taste Metallic" and "Transmissions From The Satellite Heart," to bright and sparkly pieces of pure pop that feel like pizzeria cabarets and exploding rainbow tales. They are whimsical stories with dark morals and fascinating transgressions, arching lines and such high entertainment value that they could exist solely on the written page. The music is interesting and adventurous, but the writing is so strong that the sentiments wouldn't be lost if they were only to be read. These are coloring books for adults, who are led most of the way, but asked to fill in their own colors, connecting the trials that the cactus with the severed left arm is going through on the brilliant "Hi-Five The Cactus," with their own unavoidable, hard-to-figure-out worries. Purdy is a charismatic front man who isn't afraid of trying anything or going anywhere with a song - using devices and unorthodox methods to let the stories expand and reach for many different marks. He takes us into weird Shel Silverstein/Daniel Johnston like lands, while throwing a whole new level of imaginative dressing onto them. - Daytrotter

"The Extraordinaires > Sessions"

The Extraordinaires do something I can’t imagine many other bands with punk mentalities doing. Before they go out on the road for a tour, everybody in the band—guitarist/singer Jay Purdy, bassist/singer Matt Gibson, lead guitarist/singer Justin Wolf, and drummer Peter Hurd—hole up in the Philly offices of their label Punk Rock Payroll and hand-make the silk-screen cloth-covered, hard-bound “books” that have accompanied each of their releases, 2006’s Ribbons of War and Short Stories, and, most recently Electric and Benevolent. Purdy, the group’s principal songwriter, tells us Electric and Benevolent centers its lens on “electricity and immigration” in early American history. Come to think of it, with their Zappa-like arrangements and ornate storytelling, The Extraordinaires aren’t really very punk at all. But they are sure D.I.Y. as all hell.

When they arrive at our office in Nashville on an asphalt-cooking-hot day in June, their van has just barely made it to town, almost breaking down about 30 miles outside the city. After a week of tour, a few shows, zero showers, and zero A/C in the van, their beards are already the sizes of shipwrecked sailors’. In fact, Ribbons of War even recounts the tale of a sailing vessel and crew whose captain falls for an Amelia Earhart-type female pilot in an entertainingly ambiguous period setting. In the captain’s opening remarks to the maritime rock opera, Purdy could just as easily be referring to a bunch of dudes on tour when he sings “You may have noticed one small trend—all the members that I mentioned are men/And though I love this crew it’s a lonely situation every night…”

Not surprisingly, The Extraordinaires put on somewhat of a spectacle of a performance too—with their fish-painted guitars, interactive vocal harmonies and dynamic playing—and have notched to their belt two tours in support of Man Man and two appearances at Barcelona’s Primavera festival. In the office session at American Songwriter, they wipe the sweat off their brows, bust out the fish nylon-string, and borrow an acoustic guitar and bass amp to play a stripped-down set. It includes song requests from Ribbons and Short Stories, one song off the new album, and one new song written and sung by bassist Matt Gibson, and the band run through them before boarding the ship again for the next destination of Summer Tour ‘09. - American Songwriter

"The Extraordinaires Give Hot Springs a Golden Push Pin"

Low Key Arts, Executive Director, Bill Solleder caught up with The Extraordinaires during their current US Tour, which stops in Hot Springs on Friday, October 1st after Gallery Walk. The band will be the closing performance of Ms. Julia’s Fall Fantasy Faire and Freakshow Follies, which includes one-act presentations by dancers, singers, flaming hoola-hoopers, burlesque and more! The event is a fundraiser for the upcoming VOV 2011 Festival.

Bill Solleder
The Extraordinaires spend quite a bit of time traveling from town to
town playing your upbeat, vaudevillesque brand of punk rock. Where are
you at this very moment? Driving down the road, wondering who’s floor
your sleeping in, lost in a supermarket… where?

The Extraordinaires
We’re in the van right now driving to Bloomington Indiana – we had the
next couple days off after two weeks of shows with no plan and nowhere
to stay, and just by chance a friend of ours called and invited us to
stay with him – he even put a show together for us! Almost had to get
that tent out!

Bill Solleder
The Extraordinaires have performed in Hot Springs a handful of times
and I think it is safe to say, have made some new friends in “The Spa
City”. Did you ever imagine that Arkansas would be a usual stop on
your trips to and from your Philadelphia home?

The Extraordinaires
I will admit I was a bit skeptical the first time we played Hot
Springs; we had never been there and didn’t really know anyone so we
weren’t expecting a large turnout. Valley of the vapors was our first
show in Hot Springs and we were blown away at the amount of talented
people that came together to share ideas music and artwork and, of
course, have a good time. We love it on Hot Springs and try to get
there a day early to relax. You have a golden pushpin on the map at
PRP headquarters!

Bill Solleder
Back in Philly, you operate Punk Rock Payroll, a do it yourself
factory. Is it as magical as it sounds? What do you make?

The Extraordinaires
It is every bit as magical as it would seem at Punk Rock Payroll – we
have had so much help from good friends and interns that become our
good friends. We primarily make hardcover books to supplement our
recorded releases, but we are just the tip of the iceberg. Our label
mates The Armchairs just released their album in hand silk
screened/sewn couch pillows with four variant designs, each
representing a member of the band. We owe every bit of it to the
community PRP has become over the past 6 years!

Bill Solleder
The Extraordinaires upcoming performance at Low Key Arts will be the
final act of a special VOV fundraising event entitled, Ms. Julias Fall
Fantasy Faire and Freakshow Follies, which is a variety show complete
with contortionists, flaming hoola hoopers, dancers, ventriloquists,
burlesque and more. Does anyone in the band have any special talents
that they may want to share during the show?

The Extraordinaires
Hmmm.. Special talents… I know a couple of magic tricks, and we can
all juggle for a few seconds at a time. Matt Gibson can double as the
bearded lady, and Koof can eat ten pounds of slaw in one sitting.
That’s the secret to selling albums, if that wasn’t already apparent.

Bill Solleder
Hot Springs has a rich history filled with colorful characters such as
Al Capone, Babe Ruth, and Bill Clinton to name a few. If Al, Bill and
Babe came over for dinner, what would you serve?

The Extraordinaires
Great question! I would want them to experience the diet of a true
musician, so I think we’d serve up a four course meal of gas station
food. Pork rinds as an appetizer, followed by a bowl of Slurpee Soup.
The main course would be Microwave Burrito with pan seared Cheese
Burger flavored Hot Dogs, and finally for desert an ice cream sandwich
sandwiched between s’mores pop tarts. - Valley of the Vapors

"The Extraordinaires Get Wild and Crazy"

It’s no secret that the Extraordinaires—the zany, innovative, story-folk collective/Punk Rock Payroll stalwarts—are one of my favorite local bands to see live—mostly because they always seem to be having so much fun.

And who could blame them? After all, the boys (really men—but with a fish-shaped guitar and drum with a hoagie on it) have spent the past 5 years building a reputation based on quirky ditties about fictional characters (“Eloise the elephant,” “Hi-Five the cactus”), wacky dance moves, and rollicking high energy shows just as likely to attract your 5-year-old cousin as yourself.

Their Saturday night show at Johnny Brenda’s is no different. The band—fresh off a mini tour with Gogol Bordello, and complete with a new line-up (original members Jay Purdy and Matt Gibson, plus the Armchairs’ Andy Moholt and Mike Harkness)—is wacky and rip-roaring to go, infusing the venue with characteristic zeal.

Read more:
Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else - Phrequency

"The Extraordinaires"

The Extraordinaires are a mess of eccentric ideas blended and transformed into a delightful treat. Fresh from a tour with gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, The Extraordinaires are a rare type of band that honest-to-goodness put the performance back into the live show.

The Extraordinaires don fanciful costumes, pen in-character monologues and construct elaborate sets to bring its Ribbons Of War album and Short Stories EP to the stage. Even when the level of obvious theatrics is minimized the band members are natural characters, throwing themselves into every song with head-banging and thrashing.

When I last saw The Extraordinaires, it was a bill with Real Estate. Coming out in sombreros, The Extraordinaires kicked off its first song with a recorded samba beat. In between old favorites, the band's use of recorded material, including applause, was clever without being heavy-handed. A particularly memorable moment was when Jay Purdy impersonated Mario, hopping along to the Mario bounce sounds and even climbing the wall up to the balcony. The Mario theme segued into a rollicking folk jam without a hint of downtime. Similar to their unclassifiable music, their stage antics capture a zaniness that appears to be inherent rather than gimmicky.

The Extraordinaires are a band that demands to be seen live, or else. Lucky for us, they will be playing frequently around the East Coast in the coming months, with shows in Philadelphia, where their madcap music truly belongs.
- Impose Magazine

"The Extraordinaires"

On their third album, Philadelphia quartet the Extraordinaires have taken on a new, stately musical influence: Queen. While Freddie Mercury impersonations are lacking on the new album, Electric and Benevolent , vocalist Jay Purdy explains, “We all kind of went through this period of time where we couldn’t stop listening to Queen. ... We’re not embarrassed—we’re proud of it.”?
Like the group’s previous albums Electric and Benevolent is a collection of tunes that rely heavily on good songwriting. Without falling neatly into a genre, they draw inspiration from laid-back SoCal rock, sunny Beatles pop and old-time country melodies. But besides listening to a lot of Queen—and King Crimson, for that matter—bassist Matt Gibson said the album reflects additional changes to the band’s sound. ? “I think everything [on Electric and Benevolent ] has matured a bit and gotten more energetic. Not a Sesame Street kind of happy energetic, but more into rock ‘n’ roll.”?
Guitarist Justin Wolf adds, “You can headbang to this album a lot better than our other ones.”?
A quick listen to Electric and Benevolent reveals that it’s far from an homage to fat-bottomed girls and bicycles. In fact, it’s nearly a piece of nonfiction.?
“It’s almost a biography of a turn-of-the-century inventor genius,” says Purdy. The Extraordinaires aren’t spilling the beans about who the album was based on, but Purdy would offer this hint: “It’s the story of an underdog who cares little about earthly possessions and more about the scientific pursuit and giving the people something. The way the album is written, if you don’t know who it’s about, it flows that way. But if you know and you have any understanding of the historical accuracy of what is being told, I think it would be doubly, if not triply, more exciting.” ¦?

Read more: - Philadelphia Weekly

"15 Minutes with the Extraordinaires"

Earlier this year I received the Extraordinaires' debut release, an ambitious concept album entitled Ribbons of War and was blown away with the creativity put into the whole thing. I was so blown away, in fact, that after digesting it I felt compelled to not only acquaint myself further with the band but to try my darnedest to expose their music to anyone who would listen.

As it turns out, the two gents behind the Extraordinaires, who go by the names Jay Purdy and Matt Gibson, are a couple of the nicest Philly boys I have yet to cross paths with. We communicated via electronic mail last week and our correspondence went a little something like this.

LAS: How long have you guys been playing/writing music?

Jay Purdy: I was never classically trained, but there was a piano and a guitar in my house growing up. The first music I performed was in 1998, in a funk/hip-hop/reggae/rock fusion band called The Distraction. That band was heavily influenced by Limp Bizkit and 311, which is fairly embarrassing in retrospect - I was the fast talkin', lyric droppin' front man. Yikes! Matt's mother would blast disco and Van Halen through headphones when he was still in the womb, so he had a bit of a head start. We started playing music together in 2003, we then moved to Philadelphia in '04 after high school, and that's when The Extraordinaires were formed.

When it comes to creating your music, what influences you the most?

We certainly focus on storytelling first and the music as a very close second, which could be said about a lot of our musical heroes. There is something about having the power to create one's own folklore and actually leaving something behind rather than simply spilling your emotions onto a stage - not to discredit that approach to songwriting, but I definitely think you can find a balance there. Musically, we take a lot of cues from the Muppet Show and earlier country. We use loved ones, strange events and make believe as a lyrical base.

As of right now, what is your most favorite personal music accomplishment?

From start to finish, Ribbons of War is hands-down our favorite music accomplishment. From the first day we met up with Frede at Punk Rock Payroll down to our last tour, it's been a learning process. We threw out the idea of creating storybooks for an album that didn't even exist yet and Frede charged forward at light speed. All the labor that went into each book was time well spent; cutting the wood for the hard covers, picking out fabric, illustrating each song, designing the layout, screen printing each cover, gathering all the bells and whistles, and actually assembling them was amazing. We also got to do multimedia presentations that involved projecting the illustrations, costuming and narrating in full character, in addition to the music. To us every album we release will be just as important as Ribbons of War, but as far as the initial learning curve on all fronts, Ribbons of War takes the proverbial taco.

What is the worst album in your home collection?

We don't really keep anything around too long if it's no good. That being said, Matt and I are way into Drrrty South rap, so I'm sure a lot of those albums would be thrown on some worst albums lists. Just for the record, Ludacris rules. His lyrics are smart and he seems like an all-around clever, easygoing guy. Three Six Mafia, Dem Franchize Boyz, Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz. All amazing, but unfortunately regarded as terrible music by a lot of people. [Drrrty South rap] has definitely saved our lives at 4AM after driving 16 hours - we just start a dance party.

If you could go back and score the soundtrack to any film that has already been made, which film would you pick and why?

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is the first thing that comes to mind - who wouldn't want to score a living cartoon? The only problem with that is that the music is a character all it's own, and I shutter to think about a version without Danny Elfman's enormous musical brain at the helm of the score. Pretty much any of the movies we would want to score already have amazing music, and we'd be a bit apprehensive to touch it.

Do you have any superstitions?

Our main superstition is to never practice the day of a show, both out of fear that the show will be terrible and because we usually can't practice the day of our shows, for whatever reason, so we figured we would make it a superstition instead of a scheduling conflict.

As a kid, were you big into Halloween? If so, what's your favorite costume you had? If not, what's your problem?

I was HUGE into Halloween. In kindergarten it was Indiana Jones - later I was obsessed with my Spider-Man costume; I wore it under my street clothes for a whole week after Halloween. If only we could capture the essence of whatever it was that made Halloween better than Christmas.

A lot of independent artists today give their songs to TV Show soundtracks, commercials, and teen-retail stores in hopes of reaching a bigger audience. Where is someplace you might enjoy hearing your music played in order to appeal to a bigger audience?

I think I would about die if we could get onto the charts with a number one ringtone. If we aren't restricted by a timeline our number one choice would involve the Muppets doing their rendition of "A Proud Salute" from Ribbons of War, or "Hi Five the Cactus" from Short Stories. Any children's show or commercial geared toward the elderly.

How often does writing a song feel like Work?

Songwriting only feels like work if the drive to write and your ability to write are out of sync - there are days where you wake up and think you're going to write the greatest song you've ever written but the music or lyrics are completely out of reach. For the most part songwriting is as fun as a personalized puzzle - first comes the music, which dictates the mood, which is followed by a mental story line with infinite possibilities. I love mixing and matching words together to form the perfect rhyme structure, or using different vernaculars altogether. Songwriting is the best.

What's the difference in writing a concept album to writing a - for lack of a better word - "regular" album? Can you explain the approach to each?

Our approach to Ribbons of War as a full narrative was fairly simple. We looked at it like we were writing a book. Continuity is a big issue, as well as making sure the characters are believable. The album began with one initial story song that traced a vague outline of a love gone wrong, which became "Ribbons of War Pt. II - The Captain". The story refused to be retired, and I felt bad for the unnamed female character not having her side of the story told, so I wrote a mirrored version of the same song from her perspective. At that point the story had taken on a life of it's own, and song after song presented itself and continued breathing life into the characters, to the point it only felt right to tell their story in full. Matt wrote a song from a third person perspective, which ended up being one of the best songs on the album. Not much is different in writing a regular album, but in my opinion central themes are always more interesting and fun to work with.

When do you know you're going to have a bad day?

A couple of weeks ago there was this guy in Center City that got hit by a bus, and as he struggled to stand up some random bum ran up to him and punched him in the face. The Gods smited that man for whatever reason, and I use that incident as the standard for a bad day.

In Ribbons of War, the Captain and Annelies both have something keeping them apart - is there something keeping you from your one true love?

Haha. Yes, in part - I'd say Ribbons of War was loosely based on some residual regrets from my first true love - I used to be a very jealous person, and jealousy, in my opinion is the worst emotion one can suffer. By creating The Captain I had the chance to study a magnified version of a person I didn't want to be, and Annelies was just the girl to fight the monster he becomes. I got to unload the brunt of my jealousy onto him, and I'll tell you, as a form a therapy I'd have to say it truly worked. Go figure.

Where do you hope to be a year from now?

Well, right now we're not only releasing a new album and touring, but we're also the principal songwriters for a new musical called Bitch on Wheels, which debuts here in Philadelphia on September 9th. It would be nice to be a part of a full stage adaptation of Ribbons of War, and we're also working on a few ideas in regards to a new narrative album. So in a year it would be nice to return to Philadelphia after a European tour of a new narrative album only to gear up for a stage version of Ribbons of War. The overall goal is to get to a place where we can tour any time we like and break even, and that's all we could ever ask for. - LAS Magazine

"The Extraordinaires: Irresistably Theatrical South Philly Storytellers"

I'm following the Extraordinaires up a narrow staircase at Ninth and Jackson, and there's a lot to take in. A small, hyperactive salt-and-pepper dog named Sheeba runs around sniffing legs. At the first landing, everybody has to put their backs to the wall and shuffle sideways to get past about a half-dozen clear plastic bins stacked 5 feet high in the hallway. At our destination — the small living room that houses their label, Punk Rock Payroll — a grid of strings crisscrosses the ceiling with dangling, still-wet screen-prints. Metal shelves are neatly stocked with shirts. A to-do list for the band's upcoming tour is taped to the wall by the computer: "Gas for van. Pack merch."

• Membership: Jay Purdy, Matt Gibson, Jacob Wolf, Pete Hurd

• Touring With: Man Man

• Residences: South Philly

• Homebase: Philadelphia Institute for Advanced Study in North Philly

• Label: Punk Rock Payroll

• Sites:,

• Marquee: Wed., Oct. 31, with The Go! Team and Matt & Kim, Fillmore at TLA, Fourth and South streets, 866-468-7619,

The merch is those bins, which are filled with hundreds of colorful, clothbound books. No, this theatrical South Philly rock band hasn't taken to selling literature on the road; these are their CDs.

"I guess LPs are still pretty big, but we didn't really grow up with them," muses singer/guitarist/wind organist Jay Purdy, once we're all seated. "People who were into music 20 or 30 years ago, they miss getting the artwork, [seeing] all the time and effort that would go into it. And we're just tired of ripping open plastic CD cases and going, 'Yeah, there's the liner notes, there's the picture, there's the album.'"

So instead, the band's two releases — the maritime narrative Ribbons of War and the recent collection of stand-alones called Short Stories — are actually books bound in Masonite. Included are cute flourishes like ribbon bookmarks and library cards listing band credits, neatly slipped into a sleeve stamped "Property of The Free Library of S. Phila: Punk Rock Payroll Family Branch." The bright covers are screenprinted by label head Frede Zimmer. Inside are the album's lyrics printed out as a collection of poems, with colorful illustrations on each facing page.

The bookbinding comes from Frede's wife, Misty; she was using the workspace to create blank journals in a similar fashion when the label brought in this band that wanted to try something a bit different with their album art. The Zimmers excitedly describe the work days that resulted, when all four Extraordinaires — Purdy, bassist/accessorizing instrumentalist Matt Gibson and keyboardist Jacob Wolf (all natives of Charlottesville, Va.) and drummer Pete Hurd — showed up at PRPHQ and formed an assembly line. One handles the pages, the next handles the glue gun, the next the cloth covers.

Listen to The Extraordinaires
A new batch of album-books is currently being readied for their national tour with Man Man, another Philly band with a taste for carnivalesque excesses. Wolf calls them "the darker version of what we do" — the Captain Beefheart to their Beat Happening, perhaps. Keeping pace with Honus Honus and friends shouldn't be difficult, though, since fanciful album art isn't the only trick in the Extraordinaires' bag.

Their first album told of the tragic romance between a sailor and an aviator, the couple torn apart by their separate loves for sea or air. The tour in support of it had all four bandmates dressed in naval costumes, delivering in-character monologues rather than between-song banter. In August, Ribbons got the big stage treatment; a full-scale touring musical production with set pieces and props, debuting at the band's North Philadelphia warehouse space.

While the first album is a lively set of piano-driven rock — "Anchors and Feathers" recalls Ben Folds Five's "Army" in the best possible way — Short Stories has a baroque, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel. Mandolin, strings, recorders and quirky percussive noisemakers accent each song, creating cacophonous, poppy fun. Do people actually respond to this, outside of indie scenes and like-minded circles?

They think so. Hurd goes on a hysterical tangent, telling the story of his first tour with the Extraordinaires, where the tatted, ripped, imposing bouncer at a sketchy South Bend metal bar purchased a copy of Short Stories, floral print cover and all.

"We're four dudes having a whole lot of fun onstage," he says with a sly smirk. "People can't resist us." - City Paper

"The Extraordinaires: 'The Arsonist'"

August 15, 2007 - The Extraordinaires are a theatrical four-piece band from Philadelphia. Originally formed by Jay Purdy and Matt Gibson in 2004, the group later expanded to include pianist Jacob Wolf and drummer Peter Hurd. Their music draws on a broad range of influences, from ragtime and country-western to the Muppets.

Using storytelling as their focal point, they've released two fully illustrated hand-made hardcover books to accompany their albums. The first of which, a tragic romantic opera entitled Ribbons of War, is now the subject of a fully produced traveling stage adaptation, starring the band and a full cast.

Their most recent album, Short Stories is a collection of high-energy pop songs, with everything from cowboys and cacti and ancestors to arsonists. - NPR music


Ribbons of War (2006)
Short Stories (2007)
The Battle of the Vans EP (2008)
Electric and Benevolent (2009)
The Postcard EP (2011)



The Extraordinaires formed in 2004 when its founding members Jay Purdy (guitar, vocals) and Matt Gibson (bass, vocals) began writing and performing as a duo from their apartment in South Philadelphia. Borrowing from the name of their urban exploration team 'The Expedition Extraordinaires', they soon teamed up with Frede Zimmer of Punk Rock Payroll Records to collaborate on the creation of their epic opera, 'Ribbons of War'. As a fully conceptualized narrative, it seemed a natural fit to release it in a classic storybook format, complete with illustrations and a library card. Refining the process for their next two albums (Short Stories, Electric and Benevolent) they continue to create elaborate packaging to underline their pension for storytelling.
Rigorous touring and help from their friends ultimately led to two tours supporting Man Man in 2008 and their invitation to play at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, Spain. They have also supported Gogol Bordello, Dirty Projectors, and Deer Tick.
In January 2010 Matt and Jay teamed up with Zach Poyatt (lead guitar, vocals), Evan Smoker (drums) and Koofreh Umoren (trumpet) to refine their new sound, demonstrated in their newest release, the Postcard EP. They are also on the roster of the press agency Team Clermont.