In late November, TourKidd caught up with Playboy Manbaby in Flagstaff after the final show of their national two-week tour. The screaming punk band has long been a staple of Rubber Brother Records and the larger Phoenix music scene, fostering growth of the city’s music community through supporting small venues (such as the late Parliament, RIP) and delivering high-energy, interactive performances that make the Playboy Manbaby experience unique and addictive. With the immense support that the band has received from their Phoenix fan base, Playboy Manbaby embarked on their first national journey this November, playing material from their new album Electric Babyman along with havoc-wreaking favorites like Falafel Pantyhose in various venues and cities, from small Vermont colleges to Brooklyn record stores.
To find out more about what happened during Playboy Manbaby’s tour and some details on what’s coming up for the Instructions, listen to the interview’s full audio recording (link is at the end of the article).
Band Profile: Playboy Manbaby
Chad Dennis: Drums
Chris Hudson: Bass
David Cosme: Trumpet
Robbie Pfeffer: Vocals
TJ Friga: Guitar
Playboy Manbaby was formed in 2011, but the band’s current formation was established in August of 2013 with the additions of Chad and TJ.
Trumpety garage punk with screaming
Aug. 23, 2014 – sold-out Electric Babyman release at the Crescent Ballroom
Nov. 13, 2014 – debut on Spotify
Nov. 14-29, 2014 – national tour
Dec. 30, 2014 – sold-out show with Andrew Jackson Jihad at the Crescent Ballroom
- Put Electric Babyman on Bandcamp for free in December
- Featured in Tempe History Museum
- Very active in the Phoenix music community, often playing at local venues such as the Trunk Space and at house shows with Arizona State University’s The Underground Foundation
Let’s talk about the tour, what happened these past two weeks?
Chris: We played at a bunch of different cities. Some good, some bad.
Robbie: It was super cool. We met a lot of really awesome people, we got a lot of new friends and we played way more good shows than we did bad shows.[The band talked about many of their misadventures during the tour, such as being caught in two snow storms on the road, getting their trailer hit in Detroit, losing a window in Denver and Robbie injuring his elbow from falling down a flight of stairs.]
Robbie: I fell down a whole flight of stairs going into a basement. My elbow’s still pretty messed up, but it was cool…It was cool because I didn’t crack my head open, and it was actually pretty funny.[While they had some great food on the road (such as awesome Indian food from a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma), the band missed the Southwest’s superb burritos while touring the east coast.]
Chris: No state does burritos like Arizona, we should be proud about our burritos.
How did the band’s chemistry change from the tour, and did you guys get any new inspirations for songs?[The band said that their experiences on tour gave them some new inspiration for song titles.]
Chris: Fartbox, Bullshit Beyoncé.[Playboy Manbaby said that, despite the freezing weather, long drives, little rest and exhausting shows, they held their composure, refrained from excessive complaining, enjoyed traveling together and bonded as a band.]
Chris: I feel like the bond was stronger; I don’t feel like anything was weakened. I think we all had a lot of fun together.
TJ: We’re all on the same schedule now; we all pee at the same time, without fail.
What were the best and worst smells on tour?[Best: A street in Boston that smelled like pho and, to their surprise, the smells of delicious foods throughout the streets of Brooklyn.
Worst: The van and Robbie’s farts.]
What were some highlight cities and shows from the tour?[The band said that one of the best shows of the tour was at a small college in Vermont.]
TJ: We played at Middlebury College which has a 2,000 student body and no bars or restaurants open past 9 p.m., so we were the prime time attraction of the city that night. The kids got really down…they didn’t come with any preconceived notions of what was going to happen. It was like a Phoenix show; the energy was all there, we had a great time and everybody was super supportive.[Playboy Manbaby was also pleasantly surprised by their show in Tulsa, Oklahoma.]
Robbie: Tulsa, Oklahoma blew my mind. It was Thanksgiving Day and it was completely packed with all this leftover Thanksgiving food, and all the bands were really cool and all the people were really cool. I would have never thought…I mean, when you think of a really awesome music community the first thing you think of is not Tulsa, Oklahoma.[TJ did not expect the crowd in Brooklyn to be as into their music as they were. According to him, many people at their Brooklyn show complemented the band for their performance, and the owners of the record store in which they performed at told them that they were responsible for the record store’s first in-store mosh pit ever.]
TJ: I was pleasantly surprised by New York. I heard the stereotype that everybody there is judgmental and cold, but we were received really warmly.[Another favorite city for the band was Omaha, Nebraska. They said that they had a fun show there and that the people were very nice and hospitable.]
How did the energy and reactions from your audiences in other states compare to your crowds in Phoenix?
Robbie: Nothing compares to Phoenix, but I was surprised by how many times we got people actually into [our music]. But even when we started playing in Phoenix it wasn’t like…immediately everyone went nuts. We played a lot of shitty shows. And then now when we play in Phoenix, it’s awesome.[The band noted that of all the other cities that they played in during the tour, the Middlebury, Tulsa and Brooklyn crowds responded the best to their performances.]
Who were some bands that you guys played with or met while on tour?
- Who & The Fucks: Tulsa, OK
- The Daddyo’s: Tulsa, OK
- Trash Pops: Oklahoma City, OK
- The Mad Doctors: Brooklyn, NY
- Pink Lightning: Detroit, MI
- Mormon Toasterhead: Chicago, IL
One thing that I personally like about you guys are the fun things you do to interact with your audiences during your performances. Is this something that you guys have developed over time or something that the band wanted to incorporate into performances from the beginning?[According to Robbie, the band has been actively engaging their audiences in their performances for as long as he can remember.]
Robbie: [Crowd participation] is one of my favorite things because it really puts people outside of their comfort zone and, as a band, I think that’s definitely our goal- to put you outside of your comfort zone so you can actually enjoy yourself.
Chris: Crowd participation is something that we have tried to incorporate from the beginning.
From the view of a promoter, how has touring changed your perspective on booking, promoting and the whole touring process?[After going on tour, the band decided that they will avoid playing at bars in the future because the relaxed bar atmosphere does not usually encourage or support the kind of highly-energetic crowd participation that they love to incorporate in their performances.]
Robbie: No more bars. We aren’t a bar band; we want to play in living rooms and arts venues and record stores….anything that shouldn’t be a venue, I want to play at.
TJ: When we’re on the same floor as the audience and that mental, invisible barrier is gone, I think that allows people to kind of step out of their comfort zone and have fun with us, as opposed to deciding whether or not they’re going to have fun with us or whether they’re going to look cool having fun with us. Bars don’t suit us as well as we had hoped.[The band appreciates the support and energy that their younger fans bring to their shows, which is another factor behind their decision to no longer play at bars.]
TJ: That’s who I want to hang out with- the kids that jump back at us.
Looking back on the tour, what would you guys have done differently or what do you guys wish you would have known before going on tour?[For their next tour, the band is going to make sure that the drives are much shorter; ten-hour drives between cities drained much of their energy before shows. Scheduling their next tour this way will not only conserve the band’s energy, but it will also allow them to play in more small towns, which is something the band looks forward to doing more of in the future.]
TJ: It would be nice to visit smaller towns, because where there is seemingly less to do, people are more excited about things happening, like in Tulsa or Omaha- people really got down there. We didn’t think there was going to be a lot there but those ended up being some of the best shows of the tour.[If there is anything that TourKidd learned from the interview, it is that Playboy Manbaby (or at least Robbie) will never again tour the east coast during the winter.]
Robbie: Never go in the fucking winter.
What is coming up for Playboy Manbaby?[The band was very excited for their show with Andrew Jackson Jihad, Diners and Sundressed that took place on December 30, 2014 at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix. TourKidd also attended this show and can contend that Playboy Manbaby’s expectations for the show were spot-on; the show was every bit as insane, amazing and sold-out as the band thought it would be.]
Robbie: It’s a total fucking dream come true… [The show] is going to be insane. It’s just totally wild that we got onto that. Big thank you to Steve from Psyko Steve for getting us onto that show, it’s crazy.[The band is looking forward to producing some new music videos in the near future.]
Chris: Music videos is the thing that I think we’re most excited for right now.[Playboy Manbaby, tired of playing songs from Electric Babyman almost every night for the two consecutive weeks of their tour, is also excited to start writing some new songs. They expect to turn out new material fairly soon, as they have a knack for creating albums quickly. (The band wrote their entire latest album, Electric Babyman, in only one week.)]
What did I miss? Is there anything else that you guys would like to say?
Chris: I want [our fans] to know that without the support that we get from Phoenix, we probably wouldn’t have had the drive to go out of town, check out these other cities and try and get our music out there. Thanks for all the support.
TJ: It’s kind of cliché to say, but this band seriously has the best fans. People that I’ve never met give me hugs after the show even though I’m all sweaty and nasty. I don’t think we can properly express the gratitude that we feel toward the people that come and jump around and get sweaty with us. That’s a really intimate thing for me- to share sweat and facial expressions with someone. I can’t express enough gratitude.