The beauty of a band like Punch Drunk Cabaret is that this is a band that is utterly fearless about tackling new sonic territory.
The guys will be hitting the The Vat on Aug. 10th, continuing to introduce fans to their exemplary latest disc This is a Disturbance.
Punch Drunk Cabaret mixes rockabilly, roots, and swing into a high energy cocktail of rousing, sing-a-long choruses and dance floor packing rhythms.
As frontman Randy B points out, swing music was the original punk rock.
And in a sense, that sums up Punch Drunk Cabaret’s signature sound – ‘steampunk swing for the 21st century’.
“We did it ourselves. This is the first album that we completely did from top to bottom on our own,” he said. “We recorded and mixed it ourselves, and we’ve always before brought someone in during the mixing stages.”
This time around, they also took their time as they recorded in drummer Sean Watts’ home studio.
“He really came to the forefront as a talented engineer. I knew he was talented and that he could get the job done, but I didn’t know he was that good,” said Randy B. “And we were able to spend so much more time on it – those early Punch Drunk albums, we would do them in 10 days.
“Sean would spend eight to 10 hours a day just getting things to where we felt it sounded the best.”
Randy B said that with This is a Disturbance, the band has also embarked on a fresh sound but he emphasizes they haven’t wandered from their roots.
“I feel like on the last album we started to find our own sound. With the first two, we were sort of following a template as lots of new bands do.
“But by the third one, we were finding our own sound and so we definitely wanted to keep moving in that direction. You don’t want to alienate the people that have been supporting you all of that time, but you have to move forward, too. I don’t want to keep making album number one over and over again.”
For Randy B, the creation of material for any given album follows a somewhat organic process.
“You start writing songs, and then you get four or five together and you analyze them. Is there a theme here or a certain sound? What’s happening?
“In a way you watch it take shape, and it sort of suggests, oh, it looks like we are going in this direction,” he explained with a laugh.
“It’s kind of leading you.”
He also pointed out that this time around, the lyrical content is a bit on the heavier side – owing in part to the more turbulent times society is finding itself in.
“A lot of these songs are about disruption and upheaval, disturbance and conflict – those types of things. We did want it to be a bit of reflection on the times. We consciously want to have one foot in the modern age. We don’t ever want to be a nostalgic act. Ways of doing that are by having modern production values and having some comment of where we are today in society, or globally or whatever.”
That’s not to say the guys haven’t lost their penchant for fun.
“I also think art and music are much more interesting when different genres and time periods collide.”
Part of the new feel to their tunes also stems from the addition of a new member – Twotone Teddy Roy. Formerly of the now defunct Boom Chucka Boys, Roy brings a whole new vibe and creative energy to the mix.
Randy B had met him at a show years back, and then when Boom Chucka ended, he reached out to Roy to see what he was up to.
“Here’s a guy that has toured nationally – he’s done bigger stuff than we have. He has that experience, And then he also plays stand-up bass, too, which is such a natural fit for us.
“We knew that was going to work!”
In the meantime, the release of This is a Disturbance also comes on the heels of what was Punch Drunk Cabaret’s most successful year to date, picking up an Edmonton Music Award and performing at the country’s biggest Steampunk festival.
“Not only were we able to capture the enthusiasm that comes with a new member, but the combination of Twotone’s upright and electric bass paired with Capt. Sean E Watts’ stand-up drum kit makes for a rhythm section that is both retro and modern.
”And that essentially sums up the Punch Drunk sound.”