Exposure: Punch and the Apostles
Claire Sawers meets Glasgow’s own gypsy folk punk mash-up septet
‘We’re not exactly palatable, but not immediately repulsive,’ suggests lead singer Paul Napier, to sum up the sound of Punch and the Apostles, the Glasgow seven-piece who’ve been bringing chaos to traditional folk music for almost a year now. Mashing up gypsy violins, flamenco guitars and frantic klezmer trumpets, PATA’s fashion-dodging approach to the music industry means they can blast out noises from a circus freak-show or bull-fight one minute, then whisk their crowd to a drunken bar mitzvah in bohemian Montmartre the next.
‘There’s a definite anti-commercial approach to what we do,’ says Napier, who plays guitar and keyboards while the others juggle diving bells, accordions and something called a ‘spinning jenny’ to create their old-fashioned, upbeat and riotous noise. ‘We’re sneaking old musical styles back in like a Trojan horse,’ he adds, explaining their weird hybrid of Tom Waits’ theatricality with tango, polka, Eastern European or blues styles. ‘We want to revive old music forms that people might have wrongly dismissed as boring.’
‘We’re not into slickness,’ points out his sister Juliana, PATA’s only female, and a fan of bands like Gogol Bordello and A Hawk and a Hacksaw. ‘So we wouldn’t want Timbaland producing our stuff. It’s very important for us to stay in control.’ Franz Ferdinand’s management are rumoured to have approached them, but they are still unsigned, giving them free reign to mess around with their fast-paced cacophony of styles. ‘There’s a lot of tripping over instruments when we perform live,’ says Juliana, ‘but that doesn’t stop us from dancing.’
Punch and the Apostles play Oran Mor, Glasgow, Wed 17 Sep and The Caves, Edinburgh, Thu 18 Sep, as part of The Mill. www.themill-live.com. Their second single, ‘I am a Hobo’ will be launched at Stereo, Glasgow, Mon 20 Oct.