As far as local band debuts go, the Archbishops of Blount Street had quite a memorable one.
They did their first show in April 2010 at the Millstock Art & Music Festival in Clayton. As bass guitarist and manager Thomas Szypulski recalls, “Some guy, completely drunk, blitzed out of his gourd, gets in his car, runs through the crowd in the car, all the way up to the stage … ”
“And runs into the stage!” adds saxophonist Brannon Bollinger.
“He kinda taps the stage,” Szypulski explains. “He could’ve done worse. But, anyway, he had to climb out of the sun roof to get out because he had gotten so close to the stage.”
Although they don’t condone it when audience members do dangerous things during their performances, the Archbishops (who will do a free show Friday night at the Pour House Music Hall) enjoy it when the crowd gets into the music, even to the point where no one knows what’s going to happen next. The thought of people not having a good time at their shows infuriates them to no end.
These veterans of the Triangle music scene enjoy appearing in front of a throng of people and engaging in rousing, roof-raising theatrics. They aspire to be a party band that lingers in the memory long after a show is over.
“I want to be a band that I would like to see if I were on the other side of the stage,” said keyboardist/vocalist Derek Brinson. “I want to play music that I would like to hear if I were on the other side of the speaker.”
That’s what made Szypulski want to start up a band after taking a hiatus from performing.
“I called or emailed everybody I knew,” he remembers, “and if I didn’t invite them to be in the band, I said, ‘Do you know somebody who would want to play?’”
The Archbishops are made up of 12 members, many from long-disbanded Triangle ska bands like The Jumpstarts, T-Rox and the Skankosaurs and Dread34. Bollinger alone has been in seven ska bands. (“He’s got me beat by five,” noted Szypulski.) The band is a multi-generational affair, just like the audience who usually attends their shows.
“Our newest player’s a 21-year-old junior at (North Carolina) Central, and our oldest player is a 60-year-old,” said Bollinger. “So we have a 40-year age difference between our top and bottom.”
Originally starting out as a ska cover band, the Archbishops began working original compositions into their live rotations.
“At the end of the day, I write songs,” said Brinson, “and I’m really happy about the idea that we are moving forward in that direction.”
They still enjoy doing covers, to the point where they’ve created another cover band – a Kiss tribute band called Dreads to Kill. Usually performing around Halloween, the boys appear in full makeup, hair and costume and do shows consisting of nothing but ska versions of Kiss covers.
While there is talk of finally laying down some tracks for an Archbishops of Blount Street album, these veterans of Tar Heel ska are content playing music they enjoy, knowing they’ll get people to enjoy it with them.
“We’re not in it for the money,” said Szypulski. “Anything divided by 12 is nothing. So, you know, we’re out to have fun. We’re out to have other people have fun with us … I love the music. I love the genre. It makes me happy.”