Previewing their seventh album ‘Zen Ghost’ via EA Recordings (out in late October), New York cabaret-inspired art rock duo Frenchy and the Punk present the first taste of this album with lead track ‘Mon Souvenir’, an unapologetically new wave-y nugget propelled by chugging acoustic chords. With its refrain of “If I can feel / I can heal”, the song reflects the album’s central theme of transcending ‘mind phantoms’ – the experiences from the past that linger within all of us.
Frenchy and the Punk is made up of singer, percussionist, and lyricist Samantha Stephenson and guitarist and composer Scott Helland. Influenced by such icons as The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Concrete Blonde, Adam and the Ants,The B52’s and Serge Gainsbourg, the duo have become known for their trademark blend of dark folk, post-punk and cabaret-influenced music.
“Mon Souvenir – the idea of mind phantoms – is the pervading theme of the album. Meaning ‘My Memory’ in French, this song’ deals with the idea of those experiences that haunt us even when we think they are gone. We can build layers of protection through the years that end up masking our true emotions, making it difficult to heal. It may take a lifelong journey to shed those layers, get to the core and finally transcend those experiences,” says Samantha Stephenson.
Dark times make for dark songs. ‘Zen Ghost’ was written and recorded during the downtime of 2020-2021. Here, the duo’s shadowy sound takes an even darker turn. An inward spin, into the pair’s previously unexplored personal planes and interpretations of the insanity of our increasingly tumultuous age. But despite its more pronounced moodiness, like the rest of the band’s oeuvre, ‘Zen Ghost’ offers plenty of opportunities to dance in the darkness.
French-born, but raised in England and America, Stephenson’s early study of piano and dance ignited her eventual rejection of corporate conformity and fueled her quest to lead a truly autonomous life through art and music. A son of jazz-loving teachers, Helland grew up in Western Massachusetts, where he was a vital player on the region’s famously fertile early hardcore punk scene. He was also co-founder and bassist of Deep Wound (along with future Dinosaur Jr. founders J Mascis and Lou Barlow), as well as Outpatients.
Helland and Stephenson met in NYC 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.
Tapped as one of the Top 25 duos in the US by Yahoo! Music, the freewheeling pair has released a raft of recordings, including the acclaimed albums ‘Happy Madness’ (2010), ‘Hey Hey Cabaret’ (2012), ‘Elephant Uproar’ (2013), ‘Cartwheels’ (2014), ‘Bonjour Batfrog’ (2014), and ‘Hooray Beret’ (2019).
The live element is very important for Frenchy and the Punk, having opened for Thomas Dolby, Dinosaur Jr., The World Inferno Friendship Society, Rasputina, Cruxshadows, Hurray For The Riff Raff and The Young Dubliners. They have also performed together live with Dead Can Dance’s Peter Ulrich and Dresden Dolls’ Brian Viglione.
As of September 8, ‘Mon Souvenir’ will be released digitally everywhere, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. The ‘Zen Ghost’ album will be released on October 28 and is available for pre-order digitally via Bandcamp and on CD via the band’s website.
All songs written by Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland
Samantha Stephenson – lyrics, lead vocal, percussion, keyboard
Scott Helland – guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals
Jason Sarubbi – upright bass on ‘Church of Sound’
Braxton Bellew – additional electric bass on ‘Church of Sound’
Recorded and mixed by Jason Sarubbi at Split Rock Studios, New Paltz, NY
Mastered at The Cage, Coventry UK by Martin Bowes
Cover photo by Alice Teeple
Pen and ink drawings by Scott Helland
Album cover design by Scott Helland and Samantha Stephenson
1. Mon Souvenir
2. Temple of Sleep
3. If the World Doesn’t End First
4. Gear Geist
5. Church of Sound
6. Come in and Play
7. Paradise Found
10. I’ll See You Again
Aug 28 Poughkeepsie, NY – Porchfest
Sept 04 Hannibal, MO – Big River Steampunk Festival,
Sept 10 Westampton, NJ – Burlington Amphitheater Concert Series
Sept 17 York, PA – Enchanted Fae Festival
Sept 24 Clarksville, OH – Earth Warriors
Sept 30 Troy, NY – Troy Night Out
Oct 08 Poughkeepsie, NY – Gallery 40
Oct 15/16 Shepherdstown, WV – Shepherdstown Fae Festival
Oct 22 Nyack, NY – Prohibition River Live
Oct 28 Baltimore, MD – FaerieCon
Dec 10 Exeter, UK – Yule Ball
Feb 4/5 Manchester, CT – Stupid Cupid Steampunk Festival
Feb 18/19 Gettsyburg, PA – MythiCon Festival
April 01 Galveston, TX – Galveston Steampunk Festival
April 8-9 Baltimore, MD – Between The Worlds
April 15/16 Chicago, IL – Chicago Steampunk Expo
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