Protomartyr is a punk rock band based in Detroit. The band’s new album, Under Color of Official Right , was released earlier this month and the band will play at Slim’s in Raleigh tonight with Spray Paint and Whatever Brains.
Staff writer Stephanie Zimmerman talked to the band’s singer, Joe Casey , about Protomartyr’s new album and tour.
DIVERSIONS: Can you tell me a bit about where the band’s name came from?
JOE CASEY: No place in particular, I just always thought it was an interesting word. They always call Saint Stephen the protomartyr of the Christian church because I guess he was the first guy killed.
You know, I just kind of liked the way it sounded. Although I’ve found that actually saying it to people they always ask for it to be repeated.
It’s not a very common word. So maybe it’s not the best band name ever.
DIVE: Where did the title for the new record come from?
JC: That’s a line from, I wish I could remember specifically what the law is called, but it’s the federal law against corruption . And in Detroit we just had a mayor get charged federally with corruption .
And “under color of official right” is when you use your authority as an elected official to get money illegally. And it seemed like there was a lot of corruption in the songs, so I thought that would be a good title.
DIVE: I read that this was the first band that you’ve ever been in. Is that true?
JC: That’s correct. I’ve always kind of wanted to be in one, but I had like no musical talent. I never played an instrument. The only time I ever tried was the first time I tried to play the flute, and I did it very badly so that was it as far as any musical training.
But yes, I just always wanted to be in one and this was the chance to do it.
DIVE: You said you did the album artwork. Do you have any artistic training?
JC: No, I went to school, I went to the University of Michigan for English. And also film and video studies, which is kind of just the history of movies and things like that.
I kind of wanted to go to art school when I was younger, but I went to some sort of thing where artists will look at your high school portfolio.
And the guy with the school I wanted to go to, the guy who was looking at my portfolio, who had one eye looking one way and one looking the other, he didn’t like my stuff at all.
And that kind of bummed me out of having any artistic training or anything like that.
DIVE: How is the tour going so far?
JC: So far it’s been great. We’re touring with a band right now, Spray Paint , who are really great guys, they’re great to tour with, and we like their music.
When touring with other bands, you can like their music all you want, but if you don’t like them much as people then it can be pretty awful. But the fact that we’re going to see a baseball game today in Baltimore, just for the fun of it, just goes to show that that’s the fun of touring. Then when we play in Raleigh, we’re meeting up with Whatever Brains who are from there, and so it’s going to be kind of cool.
We have a couple, two shows we’re going to be playing with both bands.