Punch Drunk Cabaret is adding another exciting sonic chapter to their musical journey with the release of Electrik Steam Show. Melding rockabilly, outlaw country and steampunk swing, the guys play Fratters on April 23rd.
From the start, the goal for Electrik Steam Show – set for release in May – was to capture the manic, aggressive energy of the live show onto a studio album, said frontman Randy Bailer. To make sure this is what unfolded, the band had been road testing new material since last August. Starting out with about 18 songs, the list was ultimately pared down to 10.
The project is also the first to feature drummer Capt. Sean E. Watts as well as Bailer’s newly found baritone guitar.
Rounding out the group is bassist Terry Sawbones Grant.
Since their earliest days, Punch Drunk Cabaret aren’t the least bit wary of trying their hand at all kinds of stylistic ventures.
“One thing that hasn’t changed is that we are still very much a live band first – the show comes first and everything stems from that,” explained Bailer.
“Even during the writing process, I was thinking about songs that would work well in a live setting.
“We always consider our audiences to be like members of the band – so with specific songs, there are literally parts that are written for the audience to sing along to or to shout out to,” he said. “We have found over the years that much of the audience wants to participate – you can feel that from the stage. So I’m always thinking about how do we include the audience? It’s such a gift to have people who want to participate in what you are doing,” he added. “How do we give them that opportunity?”
Bailer said there are a number of songs on the new disc that have audience participation parts – it’s all about, as mentioned, nailing that ‘live’ feel as well and injecting that raw energy into the finished product.
“You have to really find the essence of the song that’s going to catch people.” As to road testing the tunes, Bailer explained that it’s indeed the way to go to ensure the most compelling cuts end up on the CD.
“The audience ultimately has chosen what’s going to go on the album,” he said. “You play say three different cities, and you get a feel for what’s working. And the ones that work, they work every night and everywhere.”
The guys recorded the disc over the space of a couple of months earlier this year. “This is actually my 10th album, so it’s kind of a landmark for me,” said Bailer, who years back fronted a band called Screwtape Lewis.
“Part of it was really relaxing because we were in a home studio, so it was very laid-back.” They tracked the CD themselves and then handed over the cuts to a couple of heavy-hitters including Ross Nykiforuk (Sheepdogs, Northern Pikes) who also worked with the guys on their first two albums.
“I’d say it’s leaps and bounds ahead of what we’ve done production-wise,” said Bailer of the new disc. “It’s super exciting to have somebody else interpret what you are doing and make it better.
“It’s really nice to get a fresh perspective on it and to start to take these things to the next level.”
Currently, things are moving along briskly with the band consistently landing several high profile gigs while continuing a busy touring schedule. “It’s really about more people hearing about the band.”