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
Associated actsButt Babies, Spray Paint, Tyvek, R. Ring, Kelley Deal
  • 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).

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] Kelley Deal, who had appeared on the band's 2018 EP Consolation, appeared as a special guest at the first three shows of the 2020 tour, though it is currently unknown if she will remain as a touring member when live performances resume.[15][16]

Musical style[edit]

Protomartyr's music has been labeled as post-punk[1][17][18][19][20] and punk rock.[20] 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."[19] The band's sound was compared to other post-punk acts such as Wire, the Fall, Pere Ubu, the Constantines and Iceage,[1][21] as well as local acts, most notably Tyvek.[20] 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][19][22][23]


Protomartyr have been cited as an influence by bands such as Shame,[24] Idles,[25] Priests,[26] The Dirty Nil,[27] Vundabar,[28] Meat Wave,[29] Rendez-Vous,[30] Dehd,[31] TV Priest,[32] and The Devil Wears Prada.[33] In addition, notable fans of the band include Metz,[34] Cloud Nothings,[35] Eternal Summers,[36] FRIGS,[37] Fontaines D.C.,[38] Bully,[39] Parquet Courts,[40] David Bazan,[41] Kelley Deal,[42] Greg Dulli,[43][44] Billy Gould,[45] Ana da Silva[46] and Iggy Pop – who called them "the best band we’ve got in America right now".[47][48]

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?"[49]

Band members[edit]

Current members[edit]

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


Studio albums[edit]



  • "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")[50]

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)

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)


  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. ^ "Kelley Deal joining Protomartyr as part of the band for Midwest shows". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  16. ^ "Kelley Deal Joining Protomartyr As Touring Member". Stereogum. 2020-01-28. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  17. ^ Roberts, Randall (March 16, 2014). "SXSW 2014: All hail the losers, the misanthropes and the unhip". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  18. ^ Larson, Jeremy (February 25, 2014). "Protomartyr - "Come & See"". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  19. ^ a b c Terry, Josh (February 26, 2014). "Listen: Protomartyr's new song "Come & See"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  20. ^ a b c DeVille, Chris (January 10, 2014). "Protomartyr – "Scum, Rise!"". Stereogum. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  21. ^ Hann, Michael (March 6, 2014). "Protomartyr: Detroit punk strikes back". The Guardian. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  22. ^ McDermott, Patrick (February 24, 2014). "Stream: Protomartyr, "Come & See"". The Fader. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  23. ^ Minsker, Evan (June 17, 2013). "Protomartyr - No Passion All Technique". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  24. ^ "Proper Musicians – An Interview With Shame". The Norwich Radical. 2018-12-01. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  25. ^ "The Quietus | Features | Escape Velocity | Stendhal Syndrome: Idles Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  26. ^ Nothing Feels Natural: Interviews in 2016. Rough Trade Books. June 1, 2020. ISBN 9781912722488 – via Google Books.
  27. ^ "The Dirty Nil: Interview". Louder Than War. 2015-09-22. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  28. ^ "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.
  29. ^ "Upbringing: Meat Wave". Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  30. ^ "Get To Know... Rendez Vous". Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  31. ^ "Dead Serious About Dehd: An Interview with Jason Balla". WECB. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  32. ^ "TV Priest interview".
  33. ^ "Hear Devil Wears Prada Members Go Post-Punk on New God Alone Song "Heavy Metal"". Revolver. 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  34. ^ Edwards, Author Margot (October 31, 2017). "Interview: Metz guitarist Alex Edkins discusses the band's new album".
  35. ^ ""Lyrically the new album is very much about me": DiS meets Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings". DrownedInSound.
  36. ^ "an interview w/ Eternal Summers (on playing CMJ, touring Europe, their new album, videos, songwriting & more)".
  37. ^ "Get to know Toronto band FRIGS ahead of their Red Bull Sound Select show". Red Bull. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  38. ^ Craig Angus (2019-04-19). "Fontaines DC: 'Some of the best art is written about places when they're in certain times of flux – Dublin's in that place right now'". The List. Retrieved 2020-06-01. When it comes to looking to their environment for inspiration, the band are in good company. Detroit punks Protomartyr ('fuckin' great band', says Curley) reflect on the rapidly changing city of Detroit to riveting effect.
  39. ^ Leggett, Penelope (2015-08-06). "Bully talks inspiration, recording, and vegetarian eats at Pitchfork Music Festival". The B-Side. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  40. ^ "Cover Story: His City of Ruins". Spin. 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  41. ^ "5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To with guest IshDARR". 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  42. ^ "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.
  43. ^ "Greg Dulli: The beauty behind 'The beast'". [225]. September 19, 2014.
  44. ^ "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.
  45. ^ "INTERVIEW: Bill Gould speaks to Balkan Rock". Faith No More 2.0. 2017-03-29. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  46. ^ "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’?"
  47. ^ "Protomartyr". Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  48. ^ "Relatives in Descent Album Review, Protomartyr". 2017-10-03. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  49. ^ Wohlmacher, John (2020-08-28). "Interview: Protomartyr | Beats Per Minute". Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  50. ^ "Protomartyr donating proceeds from Bandcamp release Old Spool and Gurges 1 to charity". The Line of Best Fit.

External links[edit]