NYC-based postpunk duo Frenchy and the Punk present their new single ‘If The World Doesn’t End First’, a love song wrapped in an impending apocalyptic scenario that is inspired by current events, past fears and the knowledge that, in the end, the things that don’t matter pass and the one thing that does remains.
This is a superb taste of their seventh album ‘Zen Ghost’, released via EA Recordings, following up high energy singles ‘Mon Souvenir’ and Siouxsie-esque ‘Come In and Play’. Here, their shadowy sound takes an even darker turn towards the pair’s previously unexplored personal planes and interpretations of the insanity of our increasingly tumultuous age. Dark times make for dark songs.
Frenchy and the Punk is vocalist, percussionist and lyricist Samantha Stephenson and guitarist-composer Scott Helland, who was co-founder and bassist of Outpatients and also Deep Wound (along with Dinosaur Jr. founders J Mascis and Lou Barlow). Influenced by The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Concrete Blonde and The B52’s, the duo thrive in their trademark blend of post-punk and dark folk music.
“I have a very clear memory of seeing the apocalyptic film ‘The Day After’ as a child and being totally traumatized by it. I had a recurring nightmare for months afterwards that I was running home during a nuclear war to die with my family, I didn’t want to die away from them. It was the Cold War, it felt like the end of the world was possible back then,” says Samantha Stephenson.
“Extreme circumstances tend to put things in focus and in perspective. The past six years politically and culturally have been very intense. The pandemic felt like the culmination of years of social and cultural anxiety. There was a point where, after our US and European dates were all cancelled in 2020, we were trying to book some shows with the expectation that it would be possible again in early 2021 but the situation kept shifting. A promoter, suggesting a new possible show date, ended the email with ‘if the world doesn’t end first’. That phrase really hit me. It took me back and I started thinking about how all the trivialities and ridiculous things that we worry and stress about, things that in the end don’t matter, vanish in the face of survival and we are left with the one thing that does matter – love.”
Tapped as one of the Top 25 duos in the US by Yahoo! Music, the freewheeling pair has released numerous recordings, including the acclaimed albums ‘Happy Madness’ (2010), ‘Hey Hey Cabaret’ (2012), ‘Elephant Uproar’ (2013), ‘Cartwheels’ (2014), ‘Bonjour Batfrog’ (2014) and ‘Hooray Beret’ (2019).
French-born, but raised in the UK and USA, Stephenson’s study of piano and dance ignited her eventual rejection of corporate conformity and fueled a quest to lead a truly autonomous life through art and music. A son of jazz-loving teachers, Helland grew up in Western Massachusetts and was a vital player on the region’s fertile early hardcore punk scene.
Helland and Stephenson met in NYC in 1998, when Stephenson spontaneously jumped on stage to accompany Helland during his solo guitar performance. The artistic union was immediate, powerful and undeniable. The two began to tour with fevered zeal, turning heads with their striking aesthetic, steadily building fervent fans on the mystical-folk/steampunk festival, coffeehouse, convention, and club circuits with their boisterous, revival-like live shows.
Over the years, they’ve performed live with Dead Can Dance’s Peter Ulrich and Dresden Dolls’ Brian Viglione, and opened for Thomas Dolby, Dinosaur Jr., The World Inferno Friendship Society, Rasputina, Cruxshadows, Hurray For The Riff Raff and The Young Dubliners.
The ‘Zen Ghost’ LP is out now and can be found across fine digital outlets, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. It is also available on CD via the band’s website.