Artist Spotlight: The Zydepunks
Cluster-Folk from the 9th Ward
Any crazy folk-punk band can feature an accordion. The Zydepunks had two.
On hiatus since 2012, the Zydepunks did this truly global folk-punk thing. Our genre description is a bizarre mishmash grab-bag, but if you like you can also try Cajun-Polka-Irish-Balkan-Klezmer-punk. Basically us minus the shanties and plus the Cajun. But the cherry on top, which was incredibly brave and which guaranteed they’d never get really famous, was the decision to sing in about 17 different languages. We would never be that brave. And we still aren’t famous.
On our early tours there was one track that Squid Vicious loved in particular, one we’d play a lot in the van, which really sums up the Zydepunks global anarchic attitude towards the genre:
What is that, German? Yiddish? Who knows. Who cares! It’s polka-klezmer punk, man! There’s not enough of it in the world and there is less since these brilliant musicians quit.
They were so good at what we music nerds call dynamics, bringing the energy up and down in a song in interesting and unexpected ways. For example:
This is something we tried (and usually failed) to do more of; rather than just kicking off a song at a certain tempo with a certain energy and sticking with it, we could change it up. We managed to try this once or twice, i.e. with the Skirgjaargen Polka. But we mostly just failed.
More than anything, despite mixing all the crazy influences, the Zydepunks sound like they are from somewhere, namely the musically rich, diverse, beautiful and sometimes troubled city of New Orleans. For this reason, listening to the stuff they wrote about their hometown on tour always brought me huge comfort. I’d be exhausted, stuck in god knows where Poland, trying desperately to call my fiancée back home, and the only song that really made me feel better was this one:
“Dear Molly” is a goddamned masterpiece, combining A+ folk songwriting with these incredibly real, heartwarming lyrics about the singer’s home, about missing someone and about the good times they’ll have in New Orleans when they get together again.
So if you’re ever in a rough mood, pick up the stuff to make a couple of Pimm’s Cups, stick on the Zydepunks and just kiiiiick back and soak it all in. Here’s to ya, Zydepunks, wherever you are, you had a huge influence on us and you are missed!