Protomartyr (band)

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Protomartyr at Sled Island 2016
Protomartyr at Sled Island 2016
Background information
OriginDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
Years active2010–present
  • Joe Casey
  • Greg Ahee
  • Alex Leonard
  • Scott Davidson

Protomartyr is an American rock band formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 2010. The band consists of Joe Casey (vocals), Greg Ahee (guitar), Alex Leonard (drums), and Scott Davidson (bass). In 2020, Kelley Deal joined the band in a touring capacity, providing additional keyboards, guitar and backing vocals.

To date, the band has released five studio albums: No Passion All Technique (2012), Under Color of Official Right (2014), The Agent Intellect (2015), Relatives in Descent (2017) and Ultimate Success Today (2020).


Prior to Protomartyr, Greg Ahee and Alex Leonard performed as a duo under the name Butt Babies. They later started playing with Joe Casey as Protomartyr. Kevin Boyer of Tyvek played bass and guitar in the band for a short time. In 2010, Scott Davidson joined on bass.[1][2]

The band released their debut album, No Passion All Technique, in 2012 via Urinal Cake Records.[2] This was followed by the single "Colpi Proibiti" in the same year, via X! Records.[2] Their second studio album, Under Color of Official Right, was released in April 2014 via the Hardly Art record label.[3] A third studio album, The Agent Intellect, followed in October 2015.[4] The album was critically acclaimed, achieving an 85/100 on accumulator website Metacritic,[5] and featured in best of 2015 lists in The A.V. Club,[6] Chicago Tribune,[7] Rolling Stone,[8] Metacritic,[9] Spin,[10] and Consequence of Sound.[11]

Protomartyr signed to Domino Records in 2017, and released their fourth studio album, Relatives in Descent, on the label in September 2017.[12] The group's fifth album, Ultimate Success Today, was originally scheduled to follow in May 2020,[13] but was subsequently postponed to that July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[14]

Musical style[edit]

Protomartyr's music has been labeled as post-punk[1][15][16][17][18] and punk rock.[18] Josh Terry of Consequence of Sound stated that the band "blends the moody atmospherics of ‘70s U.K. post-punk with the raw sensibility of their Motor City garage-rock forebears."[17] The band's sound was compared to other post-punk acts such as Wire, the Fall, Pere Ubu, the Constantines and Iceage,[1][19] as well as local acts, most notably Tyvek.[18] Vocalist Joe Casey also expressed appreciation for Pere Ubu and the Fall.[1][2] His baritone vocals have been compared to Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Mark E. Smith of the Fall, and Nick Cave.[2][17][20][21]


Protomartyr have been cited as an influence by modern punk and post-punk bands such as Shame,[22] Idles,[23] Priests,[24] The Dirty Nil,[25] Vundabar,[26] Meat Wave,[27] Rendez-Vous,[28] Dehd,[29] Citizen,[30] TV Priest,[31] and The Devil Wears Prada.[32] In an interview with Beats Per Minute in August 2020, Casey revealed that the lyric "shouted slogans of leapers" from the track "The Aphorist" off of Ultimate Success Today is a reference to "the young bands [that] I feel are attacking us and doing a shitty job at it, or a watered down version of us. But then the next line is 'Why didn't I smash the copier when I was through?' Because, when we started, people accused us of copying bands and not being original. So who am I complaining about those shitty bands when once I was a copier?"[33]

In addition, the band has many notable fans. Iggy Pop has called them "the best band we’ve got in America right now" on his Radio 6 Music show.[34][35] Ana da Silva of The Raincoats-fame has called the band's music "so exciting and passionate and carries you to places where their imagination opens doors to yours" and praised Relatives in Descent.[36] Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs-fame is a fan of the band[37][38] as is David Bazan of Pedro the Lion-fame, the latter of whom called their music "the most perfect distillation of my taste in the world"[39] and covered "The Devil in His Youth" for the 2017 anti-Trump compilation Our First 100 Days.[40] Kelley Deal of The Breeders-fame, an admirer of the band,[41] has gone on to collaborate with them on numerous releases (most notably 2018's Consolation EP) and even played with them live on numerous dates as a special guest.[42][43] When asked to name some of his more recent influences in 2017, Billy Gould of Faith No More-fame named Protomartyr alongside musicians such as Burial and Getatchew Mekurya as those who "[make him] want to continue making music."[44]

Band members[edit]

Current members

  • Joe Casey – vocals
  • Greg Ahee – guitar
  • Alex Leonard – drums
  • Scott Davidson – bass guitar

Touring members

  • Kelley Deal - keyboards, guitar, backing vocals (2020-present)


Studio albums[edit]


Live albums[edit]

  • Rosé, a Fine Wine to Be Enjoyed by Couples or Friends at Any Occasion (2012, Double Tapes)
  • Vari-Speed Mithridates (2013, Gold Tapes)
  • Dredging the Grotto (2015, none)
  • Security by Shadow (2020, none)


  • "Dreads 85 84" (7") (2012, Urinal Cake Records)
  • "Colpi Proibiti" (7") (2012, X! Records)
  • "Dope Cloud" (2015, Hardly Art)
  • "Scum, Rise!" (2015, Hardly Art)
  • "Jumbo's (Live)" (2015, Joyful Noise)
  • "580 Memories" (2015, Joyful Noise)
  • "Born to Be Wine" (2016, [adult swim])
  • "My Children" (2017, Domino)
  • "Don't Go to Anacita" (2017, Domino)
  • "Wheel of Fortune" (2018, Domino)
  • "Processed by the Boys" (2020, Domino)
  • "Worm in Heaven" (2020, Domino)
  • "Michigan Hammers" (2020, Domino)
  • "Old Spool and Gurges 1" (2020, fund-raising Bandcamp-only release of two previously-released songs: "Born to be Wine" and "French Poet")[45]

Split and collaborative releases[edit]

  • A Half of Seven: "Blues Festival"/"Loud Underneath" (with R. Ring) (2015, Hardly Art)
  • Live at Vera: "Uncle Mother's"/"Barfuß durch die Scherben" (with Die Nerven) (2017, Roekie)
  • Irony Prompts a Party Rat: "Corinthian Leather"/"Bags & Cans" (with Spray Paint) (2018, Monofonus Press)
  • Telemetry at Howe Bridge: "Pontiac '87"/"Forbidden" (with Preoccupations) (2018, Domino)


  1. ^ a b c d DeVille, Chris (March 5, 2014). "Band To Watch: Protomartyr". Stereogum. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Callwood, Brett (January 16, 2013). "Punk N' Disorderly". Metro Times. Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  3. ^ McGovern, Kyle (January 10, 2014). "Stream Protomartyr's Post-Punk Punisher 'Scum, Rise!'". Spin. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  4. ^ Coughlan, Jamie. "Protomartyr Announce New Album, Share 'Why Do They Shake?', Tour Dates". Overblown. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  5. ^ The Agent Intellect by Protomartyr, retrieved 2017-11-15
  6. ^ Rytlewski, Evan. "The 15 best albums of 2015". Music. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg. "Best albums of 2015: Kendrick Lamar, Courtney Barnett and more". Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  8. ^ "Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2015". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  9. ^ "The Best Albums of 2015". Metacritic. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  10. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2015". Spin. 2015-12-01. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  11. ^ "Top 50 Albums of 2015". Consequence of Sound. 2015-12-02. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  12. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (2017-09-28). "Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent review – sensational, bloodied but unbowed post-punk". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  13. ^ "Protomartyr announce new album, 'Ultimate Success Today' out May 29; share "Processed By The Boys" video". Domino Recording Company. March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  14. ^ @protomartyrband (28 April 2020). "Our album has been pushed back to July 17th. We thank you for your patience and hope it will be worth the wait. Additionally all shows scheduled or penciled into a calendar with a hopeful hand have been cancelled. We'll try again with what remains in 2021" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ Roberts, Randall (March 16, 2014). "SXSW 2014: All hail the losers, the misanthropes and the unhip". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  16. ^ Larson, Jeremy (February 25, 2014). "Protomartyr - "Come & See"". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Terry, Josh (February 26, 2014). "Listen: Protomartyr's new song "Come & See"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  18. ^ a b c DeVille, Chris (January 10, 2014). "Protomartyr – "Scum, Rise!"". Stereogum. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  19. ^ Hann, Michael (March 6, 2014). "Protomartyr: Detroit punk strikes back". The Guardian. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  20. ^ McDermott, Patrick (February 24, 2014). "Stream: Protomartyr, "Come & See"". The Fader. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  21. ^ Minsker, Evan (June 17, 2013). "Protomartyr - No Passion All Technique". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  22. ^ "Proper Musicians – An Interview With Shame". The Norwich Radical. 2018-12-01. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  23. ^ "The Quietus | Features | Escape Velocity | Stendhal Syndrome: Idles Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  24. ^ Nothing Feels Natural: Interviews in 2016. Rough Trade Books. June 1, 2020. ISBN 9781912722488 – via Google Books.
  25. ^ "The Dirty Nil: Interview". Louder Than War. 2015-09-22. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  26. ^ "Boston's "sludgy-jangly-pop" group Vundabar gives mixtape ft. Bowie, The Fall & more in Recipe #12". Signal Kitchen. 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  27. ^ "Upbringing: Meat Wave". Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  28. ^ "Get To Know... Rendez Vous". Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  29. ^ "Dead Serious About Dehd: An Interview with Jason Balla". WECB. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  30. ^ "Interview: Guitarist Nick Hamm of Citizen Talks 'Life In Your Glass World'". New Noise Magazine. 2021-03-23. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  31. ^ "TV Priest interview".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ "Hear Devil Wears Prada Members Go Post-Punk on New God Alone Song "Heavy Metal"". Revolver. 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  33. ^ Wohlmacher, John (2020-08-28). "Interview: Protomartyr | Beats Per Minute". Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  34. ^ Gravley, Garrett. "The 10 Best Concerts We Missed Because of COVID-19". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  35. ^ "Review: Protomartyr Refine Their Old Sound with New Instruments on 'Ultimate Success Today'". Atwood Magazine. 2020-07-22. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  36. ^ "Protomartyr in conversation with The Raincoats". Rough Trade Records. 2018-05-10. Retrieved 2020-07-30. The Raincoats’s Ana da Silva adds in mutual admiration: "Protomartyr's music is so exciting and passionate and carries you to places where their imagination opens doors to yours. I was thrilled to know that The Raincoats’ Odyshape meant something to Greg and felt really overwhelmed when I was invited to perform with them at the Scala, in London. 'Relatives in descent’?"
  37. ^ "Greg Dulli: The beauty behind 'The beast'". [225]. September 19, 2014.
  38. ^ "Protomartyr Q&A: 'The Only Reason I Threw Myself Into A Band At 37 Was Because I Made Terrible Life Decisions'". 29 August 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  39. ^ "5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To with guest Panda Bear". 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. Retrieved 2022-03-12.
  40. ^ "David Bazan – "The Devil In His Youth" (Protomartyr Cover)". Stereogum. April 26, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  41. ^ "THE OHIO PLAYER: A Q&A With Kelley Deal". PHAWKER.COM - Curated News, Gossip, Concert Reviews, Fearless Political Commentary, Interviews....Plus, the Usual Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll. 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  42. ^ Pearis, Bill PearisBill. "Kelley Deal joining Protomartyr as part of the band for Midwest shows". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  43. ^ "Protomartyr, Featuring the Breeders' Kelley Deal, Announce 2021 Tour". Pitchfork. 2021-07-14. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  44. ^ "INTERVIEW: Bill Gould speaks to Balkan Rock". Faith No More 2.0. 2017-03-29. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  45. ^ "Protomartyr donating proceeds from Bandcamp release Old Spool and Gurges 1 to charity". The Line of Best Fit.

External links[edit]