On April 6, Punch Drunk Tagalongs, an indie rock bank with strong ’90’s grunge influences, is releasing its first full length album, “Hazy.” Not only is the album dropping, but the band is headlining a show at Cleveland’s Grog Shop on April 7 to celebrate the occasion. The band will also play an Akron show at the Empire on May 12 as part of a female-fronted band night.
I recently had the pleasure of talking with the band’s frontwoman, singer-songwriter-guitar player Alisha Stahnke. I first asked Stahnke to tell me how the band’s name originated, to which she responded, “Who hasn’t eaten a whole box of tagalong cookies in one sitting by themselves?” Stahnke was referring to those mouth-watering treats sold by the Girl Scouts of America that consist of a delicious cookie with a layer of peanut butter and a chocolate coating.
Understanding the name is pretty important, it turns out, because the band’s music is very much like the cookie: sweet on the surface with layers beneath that reveal a depth and a satisfying bite that one might not expect.
Talking with Stahnke is a lot like listening to her band’s music. It is clear that this woman and her band are serious about their work. Said Stahnke, “As a band I hope it (the album) conveys the seriousness and commitment that we are all putting forward. We are a band that works hard and will continue to work hard. We spent nearly a year making this album and we hope that shows. Songs were revamped, reworked, rewritten and rehearsed to the nth degree, and I really think that hard work and dedication is apparent when you listen to the album. We are super proud of this album and its Northeast Ohio roots. We can’t wait to share it with the world.”
I mentioned the song, “Bodies in Heaps,” and how it in particular and much of their music in general seemed to have a political bent. When I asked if the Punch Drunk Tagalongs considered themselves to be a political band, Stahnke replied, “We are existing in 2018; how do you not be political? The blatant hate and disregard for the acceptance and safety of so many people in our society is a hard thing not to talk about. The shootings, the racism, the homophobia, the gang violence, the sexism, the terrorism… etc. is all we hear about every day. How would one acknowledge the existence of these things and not feel inclined to speak up or use their platform to start conversation? I wouldn’t say we are ‘political’; I would say we live in 2018 and we are talking about the things we see around us that need to be talked about. That being said, I don’t for see us ever having a lack of material to talk about.”
Since I didn’t get to talk to the whole band, I asked Alisha to share something fun about herself and each of her bandmates, a glimpse inside the glamorous lives of four aspiring rock stars, if you will. I learned that Alisha works from home and never changes out of her pj’s. Guitar player Caleb Lemmo bottle-fed an abandoned cat and named it Mooch. Mooch now gets plenty of love and more than enough to eat. Bass player Alex Wright is into biking. And drummer Wesley Who is consistently ranked in the top 1000 at Mario Kart 64.
If you really want to get to know the band, there is honestly one good way – it is all there in the music. Layers of sweet satisfying sounds deliver in a way that hooks you, just like the cookie the band is named for.
To learn more about Punch Drunk Tagalongs, go to: