Continuing to make their indelible mark on the local music scene, Punch Drunk Cabaret performs on the Bower Ponds Stage Aug. 11 as part of the City’s ‘Summer Sundays at Bower Ponds.’
Showtime is 2 p.m.
It’s been a busy time since the band released their debut disc last year, explains Randy Bailer, who fronts the band and used to be the driving force behind another fascinating indie group called Screwtape Lewis for about a decade.
Drawing on elements from ‘rockabilly, outlaw country and steampunk swing’, Punch Drunk Cabaret, who aren’t the least bit wary of trying their hand at all kinds of stylistic ventures, released their aforementioned self-titled debut early last year.
These days, they are relishing their live shows and are looking ahead to recording a new project. The guys certainly have plenty of material to mull over as that day draws closer – Bailer said 23 songs are virtually ready to land on a CD.
“That’s what we are currently picking from. The strongest ones are already in the live shows, and we are gauging audience reaction,” he explains.
“Everything we do is dictated from being a ‘live’ band. The songs we choose are largely going to be ones that go over well in a live setting. When you are an indie band, people are hearing you ‘live’ first. When you have music on the radio, they hear your recorded music first and then you have to bring the show up to that level.
“For us, to get people interested in this band, it has to be through our live shows. That’s our big challenge for the next album – how do we create a project that has that spirit and personality of the live show?”
Another challenge is that with a band like Punch Drunk Cabaret, their eclecticism can make selecting material a bit tougher too.
“We’ve never been one style of music, so will people gravitate to the rockabilly stuff, or are they going to like the folky stuff?” Whatever the case, the guys nail it all terrifically, and Bailer is passionate about all of the band’s output.
Looking back, after Screwtape Lewis wrapped things up, Bailer found himself writing tunes not on behalf of a group, but for himself.
He tapped into music he had first heard as a kid, and all kinds of inspiration surfaced. Today he notes that he’s not so much attracted to what’s happening musically in pop culture, but draws inspiration from a bevy of classic tunes from earlier eras.
Punch Drunk Cabaret’s debut CD was produced by Ross Nykiforuk (Sheepdogs, Northern Pikes), and their entertaining video for their first single, Two Brown Bottles of Beer, was shot at the historic Bailey Theatre in Camrose.
Rounding out the group are Reverend Robin Eklund on drums and Terry Sawbones Grant on 12-string bass. They’re all veterans whose resumes include supporting high ranking acts like Nickelback, the Tragically Hip, 54-40 and the Northern Pikes, landing national radio play, touring in the U.S. and Europe, and even appearing in an internationally released movie.
Meanwhile, the band is as devoted to their loyal fans as ever.
The goal is to give folks a rollicking good time, and there is nothing that can come close to that connection that crackles between performers and their audiences.
Bailer also points out how Punch Drunk Cabaret’s music continues to appeal to a relatively wide demographic. He’s excited about the show at Bower Ponds as it’s a favourite place for families and it will be a chance to connect with them as well.
“We see ourselves as entertainers. And we’re always trying to think of ways of how to include the audience in our shows. It’s all part and parcel.
“For any creative person it’s also all about development – you just want to keep developing. The worst thing is when you stagnate.”