Photo: Trevor Naud

Detroit Post-Punks Protomartyr Share Their Favourite Local Bands

Frontman Joe Casey gives us the scoop on his favourite current Motor City bands. 

The last time we checked in with Protomartyr’s Joe Casey it was Fat Tuesday and he was happily eating a jelly-filled pączki doughnut on the front steps of his childhood home in Detroit. Discussing the long road he and his bandmates had ahead of them—touring in support of their fourth album, 2017’s moody and anxious Relatives In Descent—feels like a lifetime ago.

Three years later, the band has just released another powerful collection of introspective post-punk, Ultimate Success Today. However, instead of the usual touring cycle that typically follows an album release, Casey is handling interviews from home. We personally wanted to challenge him on the idea of “success” and what it means, both in and out of the context of the band that has defined a large part of who he is ever since he jumped on stage to join them as their singer one foggy night in 2010. His response is perfect: “I’ve never defined success because I find the word to be an empty clay pot. I guess I just defined it as an empty clay pot, so there you go.” 

Without the option to play shows, Casey finds the act of putting out music somewhat anticlimactic. “Releasing personal art at the best of times can feel like self-aggrandizing pantomime,” he explains. “This feels much more pointless this time against the heat of these days.” But rather than dwelling on things he can’t change, Casey is generously using his current platform to elevate other artists from his surrounding Detroit and Hamtramck music communities.

“Here are some current bands in Detroit that I like,” he says. “Some of them might have been knocked loose from time by COVID-19 or by the little normal things that end bands. Some of them don’t have much of an internet presence, as all good and great bands lack. The last one isn’t a Detroit fella. I think he’s in Kalamazoo? Anyway, The Stooges were from Yps/Arbor and you don’t see anybody falling over trying to correct Europeans when they call them a Detroit band.”  

Deadbeat Beat

A playful and punchy garage-pop three-piece that boasts equal parts jingle and jangle. Their latest single, a cover of Galaxy 500’s “Oblivion,” was self-recorded while in isolation for an upcoming 20-20-20 project. 

Monica Plaza

Photo: Noah Elliott Morrison

This young band is still getting started and doesn’t have much in terms of recorded material, but their sound is moody rock and roll with a twist of R&B and a David Lynch soundtrack. Keep your ears out for more soon to be released. 

Jenny & Jackie

A fun-loving rock and roll songwriting duo that incorporate some of the most seductive elements of Detroit’s soulful music history. 

Toeheads

Frantic and fuzzy, this young garage punk trio haven’t forgotten what came before them. With the ethos of Jay Reatard and the MC5 pumping through their veins, Toeheads go straight for the jugular. Check out their latest single, “Jane Doe #59,” to find out what they’re really made of.  

Erik Nervous

Spazzy power-punk equally informed by Devo and the Dead Kennedys. Erik’s most recent single is an anti-authoritarian protest single for charity called “Advice On Arrest.”

 Protomartyr’s Ultimate Success Today is available now via Domino Records. 

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