Colorful NYC circus punk antifolk outfit Dalton Deschain & The Traveling Show are releasing their Roberta‘ EP, which surrounds is based on a circus-inspired tale and comes with 30+ page accompanying book.
Ahead of the EP’s October 28 release date, the band has released their highly colourful burning single ‘Freakshow’, along with an interesting new video, featuring a mixture of animation with live footage. The EP and chapbook focus on the circus character Roberta. The story is written by Dalton Deschain himself, along with album credits, lyrics, and illustrations and music video stills by video animator (and the band’s bassist) David Warpaint. The download for the EP will also include an ebook and PDF copy of the book.
This is the latest entry in the band’s ongoing horror-punk-antifolk saga about demon possession, circuses, and nuclear warfare. The ‘Roberta’ EP tells the story of a transwoman living in the 1940s, who finds love with a stagehand for a traveling sideshow. The band’s sound falls in suit with several other punk cabaret outfits such as Dresden Dolls, The Tiger Lillies, Vermillion Lies and Mardi Gras style gypsy fusion act The Urban Voodoo Machine.

The opening track and single ‘Freakshow’ is an anthem of defiance with aggressive vocals shouted over distorted bass and a heavy dance beat. This then transitions to ‘Different Constellations’, a softer B-side, performing as a guitar-and-accordion-based duet between vocalists Dalton Deschain and Jo Kroger.

“The idea for ‘Freakshow’ came to me last fall when I was doing a lot of listening to the Talking Heads and the Cramps.  I started wondering if there was a way to combine the groove-based writing of the Talking Heads with the dark, atmospheric horrorshow sound of the Cramps, and then I threw that all in a blender with a circus calliope, and what came out was Freakshow,” explains Dalton Deschain.
“Lyrically, I had been doing a lot of reflecting on how the bands that meant the most to me growing up were bands that wrote songs about empowering the listener, not about themselves.  A lot of those bands are responsible for me having the courage to follow music in the first place and leaving the Midwest.  There’s 10 million songs already made to empower people like me, but Freakshow is made for the people that don’t have a lot of songs written about them, that don’t always get representation and encouragement, and write a song to tell them that they’re so much stronger than our culture tells them they are.”

Following ‘The Collateral Vignettes’ EP released in 2014, this new EP highlights the band’s flair for the dramatic, as well as their ability to create catchy melodies in a variety of genres. ‘Roberta’ is the first in a series of three EPs that will each be accompanied by a chapbook of stories and illustrations by the band, which each contribution to this series focusing on a different character in the band’s ongoing musical narrative. Each copy contains a download code, a short story written by Deschain himself, lyrics, and illustrations by David Warpaint.

Dalton Deschain & The Traveling Show are a time-traveling, universe-hopping collective of musicians, nuclear techs, and carnival freaks, who have been performing art-theater-circus-punk events in NYC and Detroit areas since 1947. They weave a complex sci-fi/ horror story into an ever-expanding set of catchy and intricately composed songs, ranging stylistically from furious punk to beautiful spacey ballads.

The band has grown a cult following locally through their off-kilter shows, including their annual Devil’s Night party and a recent performance, where they covered the entirety of Hedwig & The Angry Inch to a sold-out crowd in Brooklyn. Hooks, dance beats, ugly riffs, and sci-fi lyrics promise a show and a listening experience that is wholly unique and infectious.

Dalton Deschain – Vocals, Guitar
Jo Kroger – Vocals
Craig Kierce – Guitar
Michael Kennedy – Bass
Phil Harris – Drums