What's the deal with… Protomartyr

Here's everything you need to know about the furious foursome from Detroit

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What in heaven’s name is a ‘protomartyr’?
‘The first martyr for a cause, especially the first Christian martyr, St Stephen.’ So says the dictionary. Or alternatively, a band from Detroit who are one of the most exciting groups to come out of the rusty city since The White Stripes.

Are you sure they’re a band? They really don’t look like a band.
They don’t, do they? The one who looks like a Belgian lorry driver is lead singer Joe Casey, and the one who looks like a taller Jonah Hill is guitarist Greg Ahee. Then there’s the rhythm section: bassist Scott Davidson (Seattle slacker) and drummer Alex Leonard (IT support).

How on earth did this bunch of misfits end up playing together?
They met on the Detroit punk scene, which seems refreshingly relaxed when it comes to personal styling.

Now you’re just being superficial. What do they sound like?
Bloody brilliant. Their song ‘Tarpeian Rock’ has a gleefully vicious lyric that runs through all the people Casey hates: ‘Greedy bastards, rank amateur professionals, emotional cripples, gluten fascists, adults dressed as children, upper-class slummers, credit card users, most bands ever…’ ‘Throw them from the rock!’ is the shouted refrain, a reference to the cliff in ancient Rome that was used for splattery executions.

Wow. These Protomartyr guys don’t hold back, huh?
You bet they don’t. The music’s great, too: fuzzy, shuffling stomps influenced by British post-punk (especially Joy Division and The Fall) and US alt rock. They’ve toured with indie darlings Parquet Courts and have a darker, more vicious take on the same spiky sound – so instead of a song called ‘Stoned and Starving’ they have one called ‘Scum, Rise!’.

How can I tune in to this racket?
Protomartyr’s frankly incredible second album ‘Under Color of Official Right’ is out now, and they’re currently in town for a couple of shows including one tonight at The Lexington. Turn up early, get a front-row spot and feel the wrath of Casey’s bombast.

The bottom line: Shock, awe, wit and rage from one of the best new American bands.


Watch Protomartyr's 'Come & See' video


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