The Invincible Czars
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The Invincible Czars

Band Rock Avant-garde


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Irrebuttable: The Royal Smashings of Austin’s Invincible Czars"

Sept. 2004
by Sarah Pendleton

On August 4, 2004, I snagged the boon of some face and jaw time with Austin’s Invincible Czars after they had transformed Burt’s Tiki Lounge into Burt’s Klezmorim Circus Den. It was not the standard interview where you get shoved into a corner with the tambourine player they’re about to kick out of the band who answers with a stinking belch when you ask why he got into music.

Singer/guitarist Josh Robins has many family members in Salt Lake City, and has been a longtime fan of SLUG. (Thanks Josh!) Their music cannot be easily defined. It is like squidgy clay which waits to be sculpted by the potter’s whim. It is a blend of metal, eastern folk and Dada rock. The unchanging aspect of this band is their craftwork and musicianship. Each of them is dedicated to his instrument.

We retired to the dank but droll upstairs room accompanied by trumpet player Rick Redman, bassist Adam Kahan and the newest Czar, keyboardist Bill Poland.

SLUG: The audience was so into your polka version of Metallica’s "Blackened." It was thoroughly entertaining. What I want to know is why you didn’t whip out your cover of "Immigrant Song."
Josh: You should have requested it.


SLUG: Mistrust of the media is surely a healthy thing, but I think some musicians have taken it too far, worrying too much about whether their compositions could be considered mainstream. Do you think that can prevent good things from happening?
Adam: Any interference with the creation of art is going to create a tainted environment.
Josh: Musicians who are STILL worried about whether or not their compositions are "too mainstream" haven’t separated themselves from Clear Channel and MTV enough. There’s really no such thing anymore as making stuff that’s compositionally too mainstream, because major radio stations won’t even play the poppiest pop unless they are getting major payola from the record company. If musicians are considering what the "mainstream" thinks, they are wasting their time. If they are considering what the counterculture thinks, they are wasting time. If THEY like the music they are making, that’s what matters. Keeping your audience in mind is also a smart thing to do.
Rick: The instant a band starts changing their sound in order to please someone beside themselves is the second that music becomes something other than art.

SLUG: Every time I start the conversation, "Where is there left to go, what direction can music take?" someone will shove a cigarette in my mouth, pat me on the head, and say: "All that’s left is noise, sweetie." I disagree. What do you say?
Josh: I encounter the same thing a lot with musicians and music lovers in Austin where everyone is a musician. That’s because musicians strive to find their own vocabulary, voice and style. We’re constantly examining things to see if we’re too much like our influences or too similar to someone else. Noise is just an excuse for people who are too lazy to search for their own musical voice. Now, your musical voice may be noisy, like Merzbow’s. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about people who bang on stuff and call it music. That’s just pretentious. "I’m doing the only true art left …" No, you’re not. You’re getting stoned and putting your cat on the piano.
Adam: I say noise, in all its usefulness, can be just as useless as tone when placed in the wrong hands. Music is communication, i.e., musician to audience, audience to musician and musician to musician. Exciting music happens when this communication is direct and true, which explains why I get aroused by Rock Dinosaurs playing to 80,000 people or by Brown Whornet playing to ten people.

SLUG: I have to wonder if you are invincible, after staying together for over two years while weathering the exit of numerous members. What will you do in the next two years? Josh: Hopefully continue to tour as much as we can, and quit our day jobs! It would also be nice to go more than six months without losing someone. Seriously, in the next two years we will be playing a lot of national shows. I would like to start collaborating more on material, especially with our new keyboard player, Bill. He’s the first to really be interested in respectful collaboration.
Rick: More stability, more shows, new songs—all the obvious stuff—and more fun! I’ve learned so much in the last two years, I can only imagine what I will learn in the next two.
Bill: Well, since I just joined the Invincible Czars three weeks ago, I can’t speak about the last two years, but I want to be around for the next two. Being a part of this musical ensemble is the best adventure I’ve ever been on. I look forward to bringing our message of musical diversity to more people.
Adam: I have to go along with Josh’s declaration. I’d love to quit the boring job I have to have in order to pay for my musical passions. I’m excited about this band, though, and that’s good enough for me.

That said, the conversation took a drunken turn toward Arthur magazine and Einsturzende Neubauten, which I will not torture you with. I will say that the fellows of IC are gracious, intelligent and totally bitchin’. - SLUG (Salt Lake UunderGround) Magazine

"October 8, 2004 - Red River Rock-out @ The Caucus"

Then storming onto the stage wearing white paper jumpsuits were the Invincible Czars. Talk about a wake up call. I have never heard or seen anything like them. In an industry where originality done well is a rare jewel, I stumbled upon a precious diamond. Lesser nerds beware. They sounded like a cockeyed fusion of Jimi (sic) Hendrix riffs, Fleetwood Mac Keyboards and the Police on a jazz-funk trip. Vocals were kooky, clever and pitch-perfect. In the middle of a song driven by heavy guitar, they would break it down with fun-spooky keyboards. The dynamics were all over the place. I love that since so many bands have one tempo and dynamic for their entire set. There was enough structure within each song to make sense of it all. Whoever is writing these songs... bravo! It is hard to place these guys into a genre. Just go see them. They are awesome.

- St. Teresa - Rank and Revue (Austin)

"Czars Put Spin on 'The Nutcracker'"

by Jim Beale

The holidays are barreling down upon us and even if you're feeling more like a Scrooge than one of Santa's helpers, there's interesting action afoot.

Nutcracker rock.

Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" is uniquitous this rime of year. But not quite like this. Tonight Sam's Burger Joint will be the setting for Austin-based Invincible Czars and a reinvented version of the "Nutcracker". The TunaHelpers share the bill.

Invincible Czars describe their band as "ethno-mathological prog rockers." Close enough for "Nutrcracker" work. The Czars, around for a little more than two years, have inventive rock sound that mixes and matches everything from klezmer to free-form. They've been known to spice sets of serious original work with outlandish covers of metal anthems.

For their version of the "Nutcracker", the Czars bring to bear violin, horn, electric guitar, bass, drums and keyboards while rocking, swinging and twanging.

If you have any thoughts that you might be stuck in an entertainment rut, perhaps you should get to Sam's early tonight and stay late. These are not the usual suspects.

- San Antonio Express-News

"Pick of the Week: The Invincible Czars"

We only have to say "Nutcracker" and you immediatley hear the little bom-bom-bom-bom-bom-boms and tinkle-tinkle-tinkles of Tchaikovsky's delicate music. Now wipe that out of your mind and imagine "The Miniature Overture" in a Dixieland version, a swing take on "The Waltz of the Flowers" and heavy metal "Arabian Dance". That's Austin band the Invincible Czars' variation of "The Nutcracker Suite". They're joined by Golden Arm Trio, a rotating cast of musicians led by Austin musician Graham Reynolds, who recently composed a score for Richard Linklater's upcoming film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly". - Fort Worth Star-Telegram


The Coin EP - 5 song CD-R demo
Tigris Pauxillus - 10 song CD-R
The Nutcracker Suite - 8 piece live recording


Feeling a bit camera shy


BOOKING: Josh Robins 512-940-6946


The Invincible Czars play uncompromising music that doesn’t fit comfortably into one genre. They make music. Good music. Really good music. No, really. Music that fuses Eastern European folk idioms with classical arrangements, heavy metal waltzes with jazz grooves in weird time signatures and country shuffles with circusy polkas. Music that bounces off of reference points as far removed from each other as NoMeansNo and Tchaikovsky, Mr. Bungle and Ennio Morricone, Iron Maiden and the Grateful Dead.

The Czars have pursued a more orchestral route since day one. Their arrangements have more in common with the likes of Raymond Scott, Bernard Herrman, Angelo Badalamenti and Nino Rota than with the Austin's cadre of Butthole Surfers imitators, bluesmen or singer/songwriters… and yet they still rock like Van Halen on a runaway roller coaster ride.

Their eccentric style allows them to stand out among a sea of sound-a-likes within Austin's Red River scene. In the winter of 2004, the Czars gained attention from regional and local press/radio and sold out Austin’s Church of the Friendly Ghost when they premiered their modernized version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” in Texas.

Since then, positive things have continued happening for the Czars. They’ve opened for many of their favorite bands (see list below) and played all over their region. They plan to release their first true studio CD in August 2005 and begin expanding their regional touring to include regular trips between Austin and Chicago. They will also premier their rock version of Mussorgsky’s “A Night on the Bald Mountain” at their Halloween show in October.

The Invincible Czars have become one of Austin's first-calls to open for "weird" touring bands and have performed with the following:

NoMeansNo - Austin, Ft Worth
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Austin
Darediablo- Austin
Stinking Lizaveta - Austin, Ft Worth
JetScreamer - Ft Worth
The Voodoo Organist - Houston
The Tuna Helpers - Austin, San Antonio
Pong - Austin, Ft Worth
The Stingers ATX - San Antonio
E is For Elephant - Berkeley, CA

The Czars have played all over Texas, the Southwest and are now venturing into the Midwest. Here are the venues they remember playing (sorted by region):

Emo’s – Austin
Super Happy Fun Land – Houston
Rubber Gloves – Denton
Spiderbabies – Dallas
Sam’s Burger Joint – San Antonio
Trophy’s – Austin
Beerland – Austin
Room 710 – Austin
Flamingo Cantina – Austin
The Wreck Room – Ft. Worth
Rubber Gloves – Denton
The T-Lounge - El Paso
The Caucus Club - Austin
The Backroom - Austin
Klusoz – Lubbock, TX
The Triplecrown - San Marcos
TacoLand – San Antonio
The Lounge on Avenue B – San Antonio
The Hideout – Austin
The Carousel Lounge – Austin
Red Eyed Fly – Austin
Rounder’s Pizza – Austin
Ruta Maya – Austin
Lucy’s - San Marcos
Klub Amnesia – San Antonio

The Starry Plough – Berkeley, CA
Kimo’s – San Francisco, CA
Hotel Monte Vista – Flagstaff, AZ
Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
Atomic Cantina – Albuquerque, NM
The High Dive – Denver, CO
The Zephyr – Reno, NV
Anarchy Library – Downey, CA
Blue Bongo – LA, CA
Club Fred – Fresno, CA
The Emerald Lounge – Phoenix, AZ

The Brick – Kansas City, MO

The Living Room – Texarkana, AR
JR’s Lightbulb Club – Fayetteville, AR
Checkpoint Charlie’s – New Orleans, LA
D’Agnostino’s Bistro – Lake Charles, LA
Buzz’s Subs – Norman, OK

They also have beards. Good ones.

Theirs is a story of Spinal Tap-esque turn-over and perseverance, read further:

The Invincible Czars began, as most Austin bands do, as a concept. This lasted a long time. Guitarist Josh Robins moved to Austin in late 1999 with cassettes full of recorded themes, finished songs/pieces and an idea for band that would play spooky, composed instrumentals. Tired of the bang-your-head-against-the-wall method of songwriting, Josh learned to read music and began searching for other like-minded musicians within Austin.

**Side Note** For those who are not Texas grown, the phrase “When I move to Austin…” commonly precedes all kinds of outlandish ideas heard across the rest of the state. About 1% of those who utter it actually do it. About 1% of those who do it actually do the thing they said they would do upon moving to Austin.

By 2002, Josh had composed several pieces for neo-classical group the Golden Hornet Project with various ensembles. He had given up on finding other musicians for zany rock band idea but renewed it when Sea of Thousand drummer Keith Palumbo encouraged him. "You're like my own personal Danny Elfman right here in Austin," Palumbo said. In April, trumpeter/bassist Rick Redman answered a musicians-wanted ad for Josh’s project. The two met and instantly hit it off. Originally, Rick was to be the bassist of the group… the