| Q: Litpop? I don't get it.
A: What better source of lyrics than some of the greatest poets who ever put pen to paper? Simply put, we select poems from various periods/genres/styles and set them to original pop/funk/rock/whatever music.
Q: What's your music like? What are you like live?
A: Musically, we have a lot of fun with this material. Stylistically, we mix it up quite a bit: pop/rock/funk/surf whatever! We also work with a number of video artists who provide visuals for our shows. We also indulge in some limited theatrical lunacy, as the mood strikes us. A number of our first gigs have been in hard-drinkin' bars with a bunch of cantankerous drunks in the audience. For some reason, drunks seem to like us!
Q: What instruments do you have? Who's in the band?
A: We're currently a five piece: bass, guitar, drums, congas, and vocals. Our lineup:
Chris McDonough, vocals. Chris has performed in a variety of projects, including: the gender-upending musical lounge duo Tami and The Teacher, emcee duties at The Dames of Dommedy 2003 Fringe Show, and performances at Hard Liquor Theater and Sunday Revival. When not juggling the demands of maintaining multiple identities, Chris can usually be found cursing at some piece of electronics or computer equipment.
Thomas Maxim Guerin, bass guitar. Fringe veteran and Absinthe Drinker co-founder, Max Guerin has held the bass chair for many prestigious Philly bands such as Skeeter and the Itch, Pretty Green, Edgar Allen & the Poettes, The Usual, and New Pony. Max helped record the Poette’s 1997 disc New Jersey, and played shows at countless local bars until their farewell show at 2003 Fringe. Max has also written, performed and recorded the music for many local productions, including: Good Country People, Grendel-Caine, Hamlet and Sacraments. Max’s musical skills and willingness to lift heavy things have led to various odd projects ranging from Hard Liquor Theater, Super Mecha Karaoke Smackdown, and The Dames of Dommedy hit 2003 Fringe Show.
Robert McNaull, vocals, congas, and percussion. Robert McNaull hit the Philly music scene in 1989 as lead vocalist and songwriter for the original rock band Side Two, also lending his skills at keyboards and congas. His music has been showcased on radio stations WYSP and WMMR along with countless college stations across the country. Since disbanding in 1994, Robert has been a part of many projects including The Rustics, Minglefish, J.Q. and the Hound Dog, The Usual, Aldo Jones, and New Pony.
Stephen Marmel, guitars and vocals. A major contributor to Philadelphia's Xtreme Folk Scene, Philadelphia Folk Festival, and coordinator for the annual XFS Philly Song Shuffle at WXPN's World Live Cafe. A teacher at Bluebond Guitars and audiotech at Comcast Sportsnet, Stephen joined the Drinkers in 2012.
Mike Ligthart, drums. Libyan born, from Dutch decent, Mike has been tapping away since the age of 11.
From school band to glitter rock to prog rocker; he has held the back bone position to numerous bands such as
Samhain, Into-Wishin, Rough Mix, Mother Redcap and the Steve Oakley Band.
His endless quest for dive bars makes him the perfect fit for the Absinthe Drinkers.
Q: Where can I see you perform?
A: Most of our gigs are in Philly, and we usually have monthly shows. We perform regularly at Bob and Barbara's Lounge, 15 & South Sts., and 3rd & Girard, and have showcased at other bars and galleries around the city. We have often participated in the LiveArts/Philly Fringe Festival and The World Cafe Live. We can travel if you're interested in booking us. We're also actively looking for gigs at literary and arts festivals. Send us an email: Booking.
Q: What poets have you covered?
A: Byron, Rimbaud, Hardy, and cummings, among others. The Absinthe Drinkers have also covered contemporary poets Lihn Dinh, Gary Stein, Neil Bowers, CAConrad, and a number of others.
Q: How do living poets feel about “stealing” their material? Can't they sue you?
A: All the living poets we have covered have given The Absinthe Drinkers permission to record their poems. Pretty much everyone we've covered has been thrilled with the results. Plus, anyone who sues us should keep in mind we have an 800 pound Gorilla for a lawyer, and he gets angry when we don't feed him...
Q: I think my poems are pretty good -- can you do a song of my poetry?
A: Generally speaking, no. We prefer to do works from recognized poets. If you're an established/published poet who's interested in this project please email us a short bio-- we'd love to talk to you. Email us: Info.
Q: Isn't that pretty elitist of you?
A: You bet. We prefer recognizable poets because it provides our audience a reference point for our works, especially when cover older, more familiar works. For contemporary poets that we cover, we feel that we're exposing/promoting these poets to a broader audience.
Q. What kind of name is “The Absinthe Drinkers?”
A: Absinthe is a green liquor that tastes very similar to anisette, ouzo, and other “licorice” flavored drinks. Absinthe was a favorite of writers and artists in Europe in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. (Edgar Degas has a famous painting named “The Absinthe Drinkers.”) Absinthe has hallucinatory affects, and many of the artists drank absinthe as a way to inspire and unlock their creative talents. Many of the poems that we've covered come from writers who are known to have chased "the green fairy." We also like booze. A lot.
Q: Sounds good -- where can I get some?
A: Currently available at your local liquor establishment or by ordering online. Do a Google search for absinthe, and you'll find plenty of sites you can buy it from. Be careful though: a number of the sites online don't sell real absinthe! We recommend Pernod Fils (France) or Vieux Carré Absinthe Supérieure, an award-winning absinthe distilled right in Philadelphia.