News Upbringing: Protomartyr


like having dreams that come true fairly easily, but on their latest record ‘Under Color of Official Right’, it’s the huge, foot-stomping tunes that they’re achieving effortlessly. Not ones to stand around in one place, the band flutter raucously between driving post-punk and ignited garage rock, minding not to get too comfortable with anything - they keep things strictly off-kilter. And off-kilter is a seemingly appropriate word for frontman Joe Casey’s upbringing, too - we found out about his parents desire for him to be the next big flute maestro and his big bad score of nudies at a record store.

What’s the first gig you can ever remember going to? Describe the experience.
Joe: Either Sesame Street Live at the Fox Theater or Steve Miller Band at Pine Knob Amphitheater. I don’t remember much about Sesame Street except being weirded out I felt afterward. Steve Miller was okay. He might have done ‘The Joker’ twice. I do know he was playing songs off a new album that nobody seemed to excited to hear, which I guess is an early rock n’ roll lesson- ‘Play the hits.’ Pine Knob has a long, rambling corporate title now, but I’ll still call it Pine Knob.

What’s the first album that you remember really making an impact on your life?
Joe: If I’m being honest, it would probably be Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs in The Key of Life’. It made me realize that Motown music wasn’t just the soundtrack to cookie commercials and local car dealer ads. Later on The Ramones and Wire’s ‘Pink Flag’ hit me hard. Lately I’ve been playing Spray Paint’s ‘Rodeo Songs’ on repeat.

If Protomartyr could play live with any band over the last two decades, who would it be and why?
Joe: I would say Tyvek from Detroit. I like having dreams that can come true fairly easily. We played with Pere Ubu last year, that was a personal dream come true.

What was the first song you purchased with your own money, and why did you choose it at the time?
Joe: Unfortunately it was a New Monkees tape. I was hoping to be ahead of the curve of New Monkee fandom. You know, get in on the ground floor of a fandom that would forever grip the nation. I was wrong. One of those Monkees was from Detroit and has a Youtube page chock full of really great old Detroit punk videos, so nostalgically searching for songs from my shameful past paid off.

What’s the story behind you getting your first instruments?
Joe: I don’t play any instruments but I tried to toot the flute in third grade. I think my folks wanted me to be the next James Galway or something. I hoped by mastering it I could move up to the far more lucrative pan-flute. I gave up after a month of nothing. Now I’m smugly unmusical.

As a band so far, what’s the best and worst show you’ve ever played?
Joe: They’ve all been pretty good overall. Shows in Detroit are never over-the-moon. They’ll like you but overdoing it is frowned upon. I still don’t know what to do when somebody tells us they loved one of our shows. The worst was probably fairly recently in a musical instrument shop. No beer and the constant reminder I never hacked it as a flautist hanging on the wall.

What’s your fondest memory of being in a record store?
Joe: As a young lad I remember finding a box of old nudie mags in a used record store. That kind of thrill comes but once in a lifetime.

Protomartyr’s ‘Under Color of Official Right’ is out now on Hardly Art. They arrive in the UK for the following dates.

17 London, Brixton Windmill
18 Manchester, Ruby Lounge
19 London, Lexington
20 Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
21 Glasgow, Broadcast

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