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Tompkins Square Park
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The Deli Philly's Featured Artist(s) Poll Winner: Bern & the Bastards

Folk-punk satirist Bern the Bastard has always embraced his “illegitimacy as an artist”. Finding inspiration from the local music community, Bern & the Bastards dropped their politically-charged You’re Only As Good As Your Propaganda! EP this past spring. And while Bern continues to self-loathe about his part in the gentrification of Philadelphia, he has also picked up guitar duty with theatrical alt rockers Molly Rhythm. To learn more about the origins of this music-loving, George R. R. Martin-reading “bastard,” you can check out our recent interview with The Deli Philly's Featured Artist Poll Winner below.

The Deli: How did you start making music? 

Bern the Bastard: I started playing guitar in high school. When I moved to Philly, my band from college had just broken up, and a friend took me to go see Molly Rhythm at Connie's Ric Rac.  

The day after, I wrote “Lobotomy Blues,” and the following Monday, I went to the singer's open mic at The Fire to perform it. I spent the next few months writing and testing out songs at open mics with my acoustic guitar as Bern the Bastard.

TD: Where did the name Bern & the Bastards come from? 

BtB: Well... I really like alliteration. It started as Bern the Bastard, though I always intended to make Bern AND the Bastards if the backing band ever showed up... and they did at the jam sessions organized by Mike Ortiz. 

I was reading A Song of Ice and Fire when I came up with the name... probably why the title "bastard" seemed so appealing. Btw, my Dad is actually an illegitimate child named Bernard, so there's that. As a musician, I felt like a Bastard. I had no clout, no connections, and a rowdy ugly delivery, but I didn't care. I embraced my illegitimacy as an artist, and well, here we are.

TD: What are your biggest musical influences?

BtB: Playing folk punk in Philadelphia, Mischief Brew has been a big influence. My latest release, You're Only As Good As Your Propaganda!, probably sounds like a bad Leftover Crack EP. Jello Biafra's another big influence... I've always been fond of satire. 

TD: What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently 

listening to?

BtB: Let's see... we'll start with the homies, Molly Rhythm and Moron Girls from Trenton, fellow Philadelphians Trash Boy, Felipe Pupo, Malcolm Culleton, Erin Incoherent, The Plibmen, Dirty Soap, Rasan in the Hey Day, Assemble and The Lot. 

Will Wood and the Tapeworms, The Apes of The State, Escape from the Zoo. Our friends from Quebec, Cirrhose et Cendrier and Bucky Harris. Definitely leaving some stuff out here, but list could probably go on ad infinitum... 

TD: What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?

BtB: My Dad took me to go see The Who when I was a kid, and gave me a copy of Pink Floyd's The Wall. He definitely taught me about the finer points of Dad rock. 

I honestly can't remember the first album I bought... we burnt a lot of CDs back in those days. Don Chin gave me a ska mix once, that was cool #donchin... it was Streetlight Manefesto, Reel Big Fish, and Sublime if I remember correctly.

TD: What do you love about Philly?

BtB: Bongo Billy.

TD: What do you hate about Philly?

BtB: Gentrification and my unfortunate place in it.

TD: What are your plans for 2018?

BtB: I wanna get writing again... just not sure what the next thing is yet. Been meaning to do an acoustic album at some point, so there's that.

I started playing guitar with Molly Rhythm recently, so I'm excited to play and write with them. We're going back up to Canada at the end of the summer.

So yeah, more music stuff.

TD: What was your most memorable live show?

BtB: Our EP release show in April got pretty crazy. We crammed 6 acts onto the bill following a play performed earlier that night. By the time we got on the stage, people were just ready to lose their shit. Friends were singing lyrics back to me, keeping the pit going, jumping on stage. I broke a string during the encore, ditched the guitar, ran into the crowd, and the homies picked me up and surfed me for the final chorus. Yeah, it was fun.

TD: What's your favorite thing to get at the deli?

BtB: Loosies.

Airstream Futures "If I"

Airstream Futures released a new 7” single this week, “If I” b/w “PR Nightmares” via Little Rocket Records. Airstream Futures is a four piece punk band featuring Devon Carson and Megan Edgin with Jeff Dean and Mike Soucy of The Bomb.


Lower Automation "Shoebox Companion"

Lower Automation recently released the first single, Tethered, from their forthcoming EP, “Shoebox Companion”. The EP will be released on July 27th and features in your face noise and punk rock.

You can help Lower Automation celebrate the new EP on July 20th at Subterranean with The Land Before Tim, Terroir, and 13 Minutes to Mannheim.


Pop Punk

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