The Pirate Signal
Gig Seeker Pro

The Pirate Signal

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop EDM


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Mile High Makeout: The Pirate Signal warns that "No Weak Heart Shall Prosper""

It was General George S. Patton who famously quipped, “Pressure makes diamonds.” The indomitable World War II leader simply meant that beautiful things can emerge from the hardest of times. More than 60 years later, the Pirate Signal — one of Denver’s most celebrated hip-hop acts — is poised to prove Patton right with its new album, “No Weak Heart Shall Prosper.”

There are several other hackneyed metaphors that fit the Pirate Signal’s journey to releasing an album that is likely to amplify the national attention the act has received recently, but the diamond — formed when black coal is subjected to extreme pressure — seems particularly apt in this case.

Following up on the success of its debut album — “The Name of This Band is the Pirate Signal” (a reference to a Talking Heads album) — and the acclaimed “Of Gods and Gangsters, Vol. 1? mixtape, DJ A-What (a.k.a. Alejandro Martinez) and frontman Yonnas Abraham entered the studio to record “One Alone” with erstwhile group member Joey Kuvo. However, at some point well into the recording process, Martinez and Abraham say that their former friend and bandmate disappeared with all the recordings. “One Alone” — an album with an organic, funk-based sound was dead, and “No Weak Heart Shall Prosper” was born.

When the Pirate Signal’s planned sophomore album simply disappeared, Abraham was disheartened and unsure of the path forward. Ultimately, he made the commitment to continue with music and, more specifically, with the Pirate Signal. That commitment has been made visible and impossible to ignore — much like Abraham himself — by a large tattoo of the group’s logo that now occupies his chest and neck (you can check out a video of this process below).

Later, the passionate vocalist had lyrics from the album tattooed on his arms and two black hearts (one whole, one broken) on the backs of his hands. More importantly, however, he and his partner, Martinez, started making music again, but this time, with a whole new sound.

“It was the end of the world,” Abraham tells me while previewing the new album in the studio, “so I didn’t want to play with those sounds anymore. This is the sound of what happens after the world ends.”

That sound — captured by Evan Reeves at United Interests Sound Studios in Boulder and mastered at Colorado Sound — is a harder, colder one, with influences from industrial, electro and heavy metal. Abraham’s first musical passions are progressive bands like Radiohead, Tool and the Mars Volta, and their influences shine through, even when set in a hip-hop context. There are club bangers like “Automatic” and “No!” and more haunting numbers like “Love in the Time of Swine Flu” (which we discussed way back in November) and “Mesfin’s Song (I Did Not Do This for You).” Tying all the elements together are the duo’s gritty beats and post-apocalyptic imagery.

Darkness, heaviness and anger pervade the 11 tracks on “No Weak Heart Shall Prosper.” The opener, “It’s Get Busy Time, Child,” sets the Mad Max-influenced tone, while the vocoder-drenched “The Saga of Dirty Street Kids” — which Abraham says is, “partially based on reality and partially just lies” — ends in at least one death. “I’m a Col’ Boi” and “Blackhearts (Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now)” — which both include contributions from King F.O.E. and Karma, Abraham’s collaborators in the Blackhearts — celebrate the hostility and heroism and self-described misfits. And “Mesfin’s Song” is a fantasy in which Abraham avenges his uncle’s death during the Eritrean war for independence by assassinating the country’s dictator-president, Isaias Afewerki. “Whatever I want to happen can happen,” declares Abraham.

However, the record has its moments of fun and humor as well. “Darker, My Love” — which includes vocals by Speakeasy Tiger‘s Kyle Simmons — is a collar-popping, ’80s-tinged number in which the ruttish narrator attempts to convince his girlfriend to dye her hair black. Abraham even works in a tribute to a revered Denver band by asking his girl to be, “baptized in the black, black ocean.” “Automatic,” meanwhile, features Denver songstress Andrea Ball on vocals, and celebrates the sex, sin and stimulation of the club.

Overall, “No Weak Heart Shall Prosper” is two parts angry diatribe and one part hopeful ode to the future. The music and production are the best the Pirate Signal has achieved to date and — though his lyrical reach sometimes exceeds the grasp of his delivery — Abraham’s rhymes and flow rival the strongest hip-hop being made today.

With an album this well executed, talented collaborators, high profile supports like 3OH!3, a passionate commitment to their art and a gripping live show, Abraham and Martinez seem poised to take the Pirate Signal wherever they want it to go. All the darkness of the past, however, keeps the Pirate Signal from getting too cocky. When asked about the group’s continued upward trajectory, Abraham simply smiles and says, “We’ll see.”

The Pirate Signal will celebrate the release of “No Weak Heart Shall Prosper” on Saturday, May 1, at the Marquis Theater, with performances by the Sunset Curse, Karma, King F.O.E., Haven and DJs Mu$a and Peter Black. Tickets are $8 today, or $10 at the door.

Hear some samples from “No Weak Heart Shall Prosper” and see Yonnas Abraham getting inked below/

Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Tuesday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday. - the denver post

"Brace yourself for Yonnas Abraham's Sextape and the reinvention of The Pirate Signal"

Yonnas Abraham of The Pirate Signal has been busy revamping the look and feel of his group, adding a new DJ and guitarist, along with a ton of new material. A new album titled, You're Always Leaving Me, is in the works and due out sometime after the first of the year. In keeping with a new look, Abraham is also shortening his moniker to simply, "Yo," adding that punctuation will symbolically foreshadow each song's subject matter. "If it's a hype song, it'll be punctuated by an exclamation mark for excitement," he explains. "If it's a melancholy track, 'Yo' will end in a period, and so on and so forth."

As Abraham devotes his time to The Pirate Signal's impending reboot, he's also working on songs for his solo debut, The Sex Tape, a mix tape also slated to drop sometime during the first quarter. In theory the Sex Tape is a work of total fiction, but the research Abraham has done in order to pull off the concept believably is both extensive and in depth.

"I've been watching tons of porn, like, mind blowing porn," he confides. "Not even porn that turns me on, but there's so much porn out there. There's Manga porn, which is like these girls in anime suits who just go at it. In Lycra porn, people are covered from head to toe in lycra except their genitalia.

"And these wrestling matches!" he continues, marveling. "These girls wrestle each other with the point being to rip their clothes off. The winner gets to fuck the loser with this huge dildo. It's not rape -- and there is definitely rape porn out there -- but this isn't it. These girls just go crazy. I've never seen a man fuck a woman like that."

The research in question has also done a number on Abraham's imagination and proven perfect fodder for song material. In particular, he's written one track about the "sybian" sex machine. The twisted tale involves a man paralyzed from the waist down who then buys his wife the toy, and because she pleasures herself so frequently and so enthusiastically, the man goes ballistic, destroys the machine and subsequently, kills his wife.

There's a method to the madness, evidently, and it lies in the ability to be exposed to one's most animalistic nature and to feel and know the experience of sex from a more surface point of view. "If you see a titty, it's gonna affect you, no matter how smart you are," Abraham insists. "I want this to affect you on more than a cerebral level."

This is a very personal record, Abraham notes, and while he hesitated with the physical aspect of the concept ("I don't know how I feel about putting my dick on celluloid," he says), he hopes to show the contradiction in physical and emotional attachment to sex through the artwork and marketing. He warns that the cover art will not be safe for work, and the promo trailer will "most definitely involve amateur porn." -

"The Pirate Signal and DJ Awhat part ways"

From the possibility of the Nathan & Stephen reunion becoming more than just a one-off proposition to former Speakeasy Tiger frontwoman Kyle Simmons making her debut with her new band Boys, we heard several intriguing rumors and were made aware of quite a few new developments this past weekend.

None was perhaps more striking, however, than seeing DJ Soup behind the decks for The Pirate Signal's set at the Import Warehouse, and then learning that the group and DJ Awhat had parted ways.

"I just think things run their course, ya know?" says Yonnas Abraham. "We wanted to do different things and go different places, and it's all love, you know?"

No word yet on form that whole different things/different places notion will take, but according to DJ Awhat, who announced the news yesterday via Twitter, he has huge things in store, while Abraham, whose band continues to attract more and more of a fervent crossover indie rock crowd, says he's excited to try new stuff with the older songs.

Stay tuned. We'll keep you posted of any new developments we hear. In the meantime, catch The Pirate Signal next Wednesday, August 4 at Astroland up in Boulder and the following night at Quixote's. -

"Meet the Pirate Signal, one of Denver's most compelling hip-hop acts"

"At 26, dude, I can't really split my time anymore," declares Yonnas Abraham. "You know what I mean? It's like, what you cash your checks doing is what you do — and I don't want to be a waiter or a bartender or a market researcher. I want to be an artist."
Now hear this: Yonnas Abraham (left) and Alejandro Martinez are the Pirate Signal.
Now hear this: Yonnas Abraham (left) and Alejandro Martinez are the Pirate Signal.
The Pirate Signal at the Westword Music Showcase, with more than fifty of Denver's finest acts, 1 p.m. Saturday, June 13, Verizon Wireless Stage, 12th and Acoma, $9.33 in advance, $20 day of show,
Related Content

* Brace yourself for Yonnas Abraham's Sextape and the reinvention of The Pirate Signal
October 29, 2010
* #COHIPHOP Unity Concert 2 at Quixote's
August 6, 2010
* The Pirate Signal and DJ Awhat part ways
July 28, 2010
* Backbeat presents: An exclusive first listen to No Weak Heart Shall Prosper from The Pirate Signal
April 30, 2010
* The Mars Volta's Ikey Owens stretches his wings in Free Moral Agents
November 12, 2009

More About

* Yonnas Abraham
* Joey Kuvo
* The Mars Volta
* Warped Tour
* Hip-Hop and Rap

When he performs, Abraham's artistic zeal is unmistakable. As frontman for the Pirate Signal, one of Denver's brightest emerging hip-hop acts, he's simply electrifying. While DJ A-what manipulates the outfit's propulsive backdrops, Abraham raps with a profound sense of urgency, like "somebody had their mouth closed for 21 years and they opened it for the first time," as he puts it. Hip-hop's answer to James Brown, he's a blur of frenetic activity, as if jolts of electricity were being conducted directly to his nervous system.

Off stage, Abraham is just as animated, gesticulating frequently to punctuate his thoughts. "The best way to describe the way in my mind that the Pirate Signal works," he offers, "is that I am playing in front of a band. I'm a frontman, and that is how I engage the crowd. I perform as if there's a band back there and I'm the frontman of this band. And part of the reason for that was when I really began to get into the art of music, I began to fall in love with bands. There was this holy trinity of bands that really shaped me...first it was Tool, and then it was the Mars Volta, and then it was Radiohead. So that informed my music. I wanted to make music that was lush. I didn't want to make music where it was like, okay, you hear the beat, you hear the rap, this is what you're going to get.

"I wanted there to be surprises, and that's the one thing people say about my music — that it sounds like a live band," he continues. "So to me, I know that if I go play with any kind of band, I'll be good. I could open up for Fucked Up, I could open up for Coldplay, and I really sincerely believe that people will like it, because I know the music I'm making on a fundamental, basic level is compelling. And the fact that I'm performing with the intensity I'm performing with makes it a viable show."

When the Pirate Signal was nominated for a Westword Showcase Award a few years ago, the MC didn't mince words when we asked this question for our pullout guide: "If you had to choose one act to represent Denver, who would it be and why?"

"Some backwoods, boondock, uncivilized, alt-country, hootenanny cowboy shit sums this place up real nice, I think," Abraham wrote in response. "Or elevator music."

While there's clearly a demand for hip-hop in this town, and KS-107.5 consistently ranks in the top five in Arbitron ratings, local hip-hop has yet to be embraced by the masses. "There's no implicit respect for the culture," Abraham says, then retreats a bit. "There is on some level, but it's in a voyeuristic way."

The problem certainly isn't a lack of talent. Right now, the Front Range is brimming with a staggering number of talented hip-hop purveyors, an impressive class that includes 3 the Hardway, ManeLine, F.O.E., Whygee, Karma, 800-the-Jewell, Dent, Ichiban, Spoke in Wordz, Sunken State, Playalitical, Infinite Mindz, the Fresh Breath Committee, the Food Chain, Distrakt, Black Pegasus, Improv, Diamond Boiz, the ReMINDers, Air Dubai, Extra Kool, Strange Powers (an act that's relocated but still waves the Colorado flag), Time and Ancient Mith, which just completed a well-received European tour, among others.

Like countless charismatic figures before him, Abraham wears his emotions on his sleeve. In lashing out at the scene, Abraham was really expressing how isolated he felt in Denver — and his concern that seemingly no one in this city, much less anywhere else, was paying attention to the hip-hop being produced here. Things just weren't happening fast enough for him, as he made clear in these lines from "Go!"

"I gotta go, go, go/I gotta go, go, go/'cause Denver sucks/And I mean it literally/It really does/Sucks hope from people's blood/So they live their whole lives completely numb/And what do we become, if we don't leave this dump."

And the song continues: "I gotta leave this place/Told my pops/You should've seen his face/Why even wait/If the beat can make/I gotta leave this place/And tomorrow may be too late."

Pirate Signal won the award for best hip-hop group at that year's Showcase — but Abraham wasn't on hand to accept the honors. By then, he'd really left this place, and his father, Sam, and DJ A-what accepted the trophy.

"A large part of it was just not wanting to be the guy who always says he's leaving Denver and never leaves Denver," Abraham explains. "So as soon as I got the money ready — I didn't have shit; I had like a thousand dollars — I bounced.

"I had a girlfriend," he continues. "Her name was Aliah, and she's a major inspiration to me. Early in our relationship, when I was, like, 23...she was always coaxing me: 'You should leave this place. You need to leave this place.' And I was like, 'But, you know, this is home. I don't want to leave.' I never had desires to leave. Then I made that song, 'Go!' — but even when I made the song, I wasn't intending on leaving. I just was making the song, and it was about frustration. When I made that song, I literally cried thinking about leaving all these people — especially her, after having formed this relationship. And just the thought of it made me so sad. But I just explored that frustration. And one day I was just sitting in my house, long after the song was made, and I realized that I did have to leave. I remember feeling like that was my destiny, to go and do this thing."
To Continue, click URL -


2004 The Norma(L) LP
2005 The Beast/ Slow Down.
2006 The Name of This Band is The Pirate Signal EP
2008 Of God's And Gangster's Vol. 1 Mixtape
2010 No Weak Heart Shall Prosper LP
2011 The Sextape (Yo's Solo Project)
2012 You're Always Leaving Me



Post-Everything, The Pirate Signal manages a synergy that destroys limitations of any kind. Synthesizing music, cinema, and any form art into an entire colorful and beautiful galaxy, all while banging out ferociously, TPS is a prototype for great bands of the future.
Consisting of Yonnas Abraham (affectionately referred to as "Yo") on vocals and production, Chez Sheree Strong (aka I AM UNICORN) on guitar, keys, vocals, auxillary percussion and production as well Hogans Daniel on Drums. Songwriting by an MC, a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter and a drum impresario? The very idea crackles with boundless potential, each fully capable of realizing concepts individually, yet together they work like a complicated set of levers and pulleys in one magnificent machine. Solidifying themselves as a trio earlier this year, they often have hyper-skilled MC King F.O.E providing back up vocals and verses in their live incarnation.
Let's not mince words. The beats and musicianship are amazing. The rapping is dynamic, technically flawless, clever, entertaining and profound simultaneously, gracefully tap dancing all over the narrow margin between crass and beautiful. The melodies and harmonies are so insidiously sophisticated in they're Glass-ian manipulation of repetitive singular motives and modern R&B harmonies. It's heavy, fonky, and women enjoy dancing to it. The live show might explode your heart with joy, plus, the streets feel it. It's amazing, I've never seen anything like it, and now there is nothing I want more.