Right now, Sydney’s Papa Pilko And The Binrats are busy introducing the Australian public to their horn-heavy new EP, Third Time Lucky. Ahead of the seven-piece’s hometown launch at The Basement this weekend, trumpet player Tom Wilkinson reveals this EP formed in a more haphazard manner than the two that preceded it. “I think it was a bit more spontaneous. The last EP we were a lot more prepared, in terms of going into the studio ready. We pretty much wrote one of the tracks on this EP in the studio and it’s a four-track as opposed to a five.”
Papa Pilko’s music takes stylistic nods from swampy blues, murderous country and booze-drenched pub rock, and the band’s authentic application of these genres shows an awareness of the history they’re borrowing from. However, Wilkinson says they’re not particularly worried about staying true to the source material.
“There’s no sort of conscious thinking about a genre per se. I have a very hard time sticking down the genre of our music. It’s a chaotic mesh of a whole lot of genres. The horn players like jazz, our drummer likes metal, Cyrus [Pilko, vocals] likes Australian rock’n’roll. It sort of goes through the band’s mind and comes out as whatever it is. Whatever that is I’m not sure, but definitely there’s not a conscious thought about sticking to a genre anymore.”
Papa Pilko have released three EPs over the last year and the trilogy demonstrates that the parameters of their wild boy blues are indeed broadening. This release format suits the band at a developmental stage and Wilkinson indicates they’re not equipped for a full-length release just yet. “We don’t want to really do an LP and have it disappear into the mist of all the albums that get put out. We want to make sure we have maybe some label support and some help to get it out there.”
Managing a seven-piece band requires a lot more planning than a three- or four-piece. Practical concerns, such as getting everyone in the same place for rehearsal or ensuring everyone has accommodation on tour, become difficult with so many bodies to account for. Papa Pilko And The Binrats is an independent enterprise and Wilkinson says any economic gain has hitherto been put towards facilitating the next step in the band’s journey. “We have to plan with our agent pretty far in advance and be careful with it, mainly to make sure you can pay for three months down the road. Pretty much any money the band makes goes straight out again to pay for the next tour or the next recording session, or something like that.”
Despite the limited financial perks, word about Papa Pilko is increasingly spreading, largely thanks to their bombastic live shows. Wilkinson reports that audiences are very receptive towards their livewire onstage behaviour. “It’s pretty much really good feedback for the live shows. I think it subconsciously helps us to develop the live show, [but] it’s not super planned out. We just go up onstage and do what we do and that seems to be what people are responding to and what they like. So we just keep doing that.”
For those yet to witness one of Papa Pilko And The Binrats’ swamp-splashing rock’n’roll shows, Wilkinson elaborates on what’s getting people so enthusiastic about the band. “It’s just seven lads going pretty hard onstage, with one particular singer that goes extremely hard onstage – Cyrus. And hopefully a lot people offstage that are going just as hard.”
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY