Johnny Manchild & the Poor Bastards hear one phrase at every gig: “That’s a lot of bastards!” Yes, several musical Bastards endeavoring to spread their tunes across the globe. The seven-piece alt-rock group draws inspiration from multiple genres including rock, funk, jazz, blues, and ska, featuring a unique mixture of the typical rock band drums, bass, guitar, and vocals, as well as keys and brass- namely sax and trumpet with the occasional trombone, flute, and strings. The brass brings on the jazzy, yet ska-laced feel, dependent on the song, while keys, vocals, guitars, and drums adapt to fit the different feel each song delivers. “It’s like if you took angsty 2000s punk rock (think like Anthony Raneri from Bayside) and put it in a blender with Ben Folds style piano melodies, threw in some jazz, added in some smooth orchestral elements, and sprinkled in a little Rufus Wainwright for good measure,” according to OK Sessions. Going from wildly upbeat songs that make the audience dance around uncontrollably (namely “Gestapo,” “Deserve,” and “That Doesn’t Happen,”) the Bastards are never lacking when it’s time to take it down a notch for the slow dance with songs like “Lightning,” “Annie,” and “Lucky to Have You.”
Hailing from the Oklahoma City metro, the band formed in 2016, including band leader Johnny Manchild (vocals, keys), and co-founding members: Ethan Neel (drums), Ben Wood (trumpet), and James Thompson (bass). Danny McGinn (trumpet), Chris Lashley (guitar, vocals), and Logan From (saxophone) joined the lineup to complete the Poor Bastards as we know them today. Former members include Jamey Levy (guitar), and Taylor Doak (trumpet).
Having built up a strong familiarity among the Oklahoma local scene, the band is now interested in moving outward to explore the rest of the US, delivering songs from the EP Valencia, the band’s first release, the recently released LP, Insomnia, and even more recently released singles (one for each month of 2019). They are currently in alliance with Aorta Music Management/Aorta Booking, and remain unsigned to a record label, reliant upon the popularity of their songs catching the attention of the general public. Valencia and Insomnia was recorded and mastered by Manchild himself, while the newest 2019 singles were and are being recorded at Lunar Manor with Taylor Johnson. Newest release “All In My Mind” and soon to be released, “Stay Awake” were mastered by Kevin Lively and Voyager Mastering, respectively.
One of the band’s most recent endeavors to note is a relatively large crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo, which they launched in February 2019 with the help of YouTuber and long-time friend to Manchild, Jacob Rabon, aka Alpharad. The band covered “Last Surprise” from the game Persona 5, as well as a re-recorded version of an old song of Rabon and Manchild’s, “Four Years Gone” as part of the collaboration. The goal of the fundraiser is to raise enough funds to purchase a van, new set of merch, and all other tour necessities so the band may hit the road without a huge financial burden weighing them down. The minimum donation is $1.00, the perk being the band will play in a city near whomever donates. Knowing it may take a while to fulfill this promise, the Bastards look forward to having a long list of spots desiring to hear their live performance, all while having at least one single to release each month for all the new ears (and old) to hear and learn the lyrics to while they wait for that touring promise to be fulfilled. Fundraising earnings aside, the band is certainly picking up many new listeners across the globe as a result of the crowdfunding campaign and collaboration with Alpharad.
Of course it is hard to say what the future will hold for the seven-piece group, and seven members is a lot to keep together, but the momentum continues to increase. Each band and crew member have dedicated time, patience, and networking in order to maintain or excel this momentum and it doesn’t seem that will end any time soon. For now, the Bastards will start with weekend and shorter runs, working up to being a full-time touring band in the next year.