Frenchy and the Punk
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Frenchy and the Punk

New Paltz, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

New Paltz, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Duo Rock Acoustic




"Frenchy and the Punk Hooray Beret"

Last July 22, Scott Helland joined Dinosaur jr. at Fenway Park supporting Foo Fighters, reprising 3/4ths of 1982-1984 pre-Dino Western Mass. hardcore band Deep Wound as they do sometimes. The Red Sox' beautiful bygone bandbox is sure different from Reagan-era basements and battered bars hardcore kids played, and their performance of "Training Ground" for 37,000 was intense. Also like ex-mates Lou Barlow's and J Mascis' folkier solo LPs -- Dinosaur and Sebadoh still rage -- nowadays Helland does ripping folkrock north of New York with Lyon, France-born chanteuse Samantha Stephenson --thus their name. On the sixth LP, her thick, Chrissie Hyde-like voice helps Helland's acoustic-based tunes maintain the aggression of Reckoning R.E.M. ("Sing"), Shocking Blue ("Monsters"), or faster Monkees ("Hooray Beret", "Je T'aime Paris"). Helland favors flavorful flamenco leads, clipped flourishes, and post-punk strumming with a virulence greater than folk-rock's norm. Here's to growing up without going lame. - The Big Takeover

"Frenchy and the Punk Hooray Beret"

The Hudson Valley's steampunk soul twins, Frenchy and the Punk (formerly the Gypsy Nomads), wear weird like a badge, continually defying categorization on every recording with their passionate sound play. Gypsy? Punk? Rock? Cabaret? Tossing them into the generic indie box would be laughable. Having heard and seen them live through several shapeshiftings, I'll say their boisterous vibe has not faltered one bit. Their sixth album is spirited, fearless, even lawless. It's no wonder they have been embraced by imaginative, creative steampunks. Samantha Stephenson's cavorting vocals are reminiscent of Kate Pierson these days—pure merriment. Scott Helland bangs acoustic strings as he did electric strings in his hardcore punk days, still rowdy and precise as hell. This album doesn't waste time from note one, an energetic urgency catapulting listeners into a 10-song traverse that never soft-pedals. These magnetic mavericks tour like fiends, so catch them as they hurtle from gig to gig. - The Chronogram

"Yahoo! Music - 25 Women To Watch"

"25 Women to Watch"
#25 Frenchy and the Punk (formerly The Gypsy Nomads): Frenchy is Samantha Stephenson. The punk is Scott Helland. They're given this #25 distinction so you'll notice them without having to scroll down. They play an unclassifiable music (good!) that has links to the World of Steampunk. Helland is the dude who plays the messed-up guitar (an original member of Deep Wound with J Mascis and Lou Barlow) and keeps his head down as he journals through the music. And Stephenson is the gypsy queen, the woman with staggering charisma, whose healing energies can be felt pouring off the stage. How convenient she's a she! It's like they planned on making this column! - Yahoo! Music List of the Day Blog Rob O'Conner

"CD Review: Bonjour Batfrog"

Steampunk seems to be more about image than art. But in spite of their deep roots in this most intriguing niche of American pop culture, New Paltz's Frenchy and the Punk understand the art of songwriting in such a masterful way that the visual aspect of their thing is almost secondary to the penchant of singer/percussionist Samantha Stephenson and multi-instrumentalist Scott Helland for writing great pop songs. And on this fifth full-length of theirs, Bonjour Batfrog, the duo deliver their strongest set yet.

These 11 largely acoustic songs strip down the kind of vamp you loved on albums like Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds or PJ Harvey's To Bring You My Love into a gypsy-kissed jar of that absinthe-and-moonshine concoction you always knew existed. The imagery of their lyrics, meanwhile, will no doubt sate the thirst for the unusual that long-time Frenchy and the Punk fans have come to expect, especially on tracks like "Bringin' Out the Dead (Edward Gorey Séance)" and "Batgirl," which conjures the notion of Morticia Adams, Lily Munster, and Vampira as the greatest three-woman act network television never had. This Batfrog has some serious wings to fly beyond the parameters of steampunk and into the stereo systems of anyone who loves quality folk punk. - Chronogram: Ron Hart

"It’s the strange bedfellows of the caravan, campfire singalongs and inner city, seedy bar brawling that swirls this into a seriously fun album!"

Happy Madness, the fourth album from the duo affectionately know by fans as “Frenchy and the Punk”, is chock full of bouncy, fun cabaret punk. The Gypsy Nomads – Samantha Stephenson (percussion, vocals) and Scott Helland (guitar, vocals) – are hard to pin down to any one style. If the Violent Femmes and and Katzenjammer had babies, this is what it might sound like. It’s a steampunk fairytale with a serious case of wanderlust.
The New York City based duo keep things pretty simple on Happy Madness. Their flare comes in the form of raw grit as opposed to polished stones. While a good chunk of The Gypsy Nomads’ sound is reminiscent of the 80's, it’s the strange bedfellows of the caravan, campfire singalongs and inner city, seedy bar brawling that swirls this mess into a seriously fun album. And by mess, I don’t mean anything even remotely negative – on the contrary, it’s hard not to feel carefree while listening to Happy Madness.
Opener “Make Out” is a foot stomping rocker about meeting a beau in the parking lot for a make out session. It’s a little lascivious, a little silly, and a great tune to sing along with. After this jumping off point, The Gypsy Nomads explore little bits of everything – punk, folk, gypsy – but in the end it’s all wrapped up in a cabaret or street minstrel style. However, while many of today’s gypsy punk bands drip with their preferred style to the point of over saturation, Stephenson and Helland seem to have a firm grasp on the art of nuance and a heavy helping of good humor about themselves and their music.
I’m not entirely sure how to feel about Happy Madness when it’s stacked up next to many of this year’s releases, but one thing is undeniable – it’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. While some folks sniff at any album that isn’t part of the latest hipster buzz, my preference will always be for the groups – like The Gypsy Nomads – out there doing what they love for an appreciative audience. - Indie Music Review Jenn Odonnell

"Their melding of ancient archetypes w/ scrappy street-level attitude makes this a lively must-have for punks, hippies, and everyone inbetween."

When wizened punks and august hippies gather around campfires to reminisce in the Joe Strummer documentary The Future Is Unwritten, the orange halflight illuminates the striking similarities in their views, their histories, and even their physicality. In that same natural glow we find New Paltz gypsy-cabaret-folk-punk duo the Frenchy and the Punk, whose new release, Happy Madness , percolates with stripped-down DIY energy, tribal rhythms, and earthy drama. Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland are accomplished performing vets; she of the visual arts and dance, he of metal and punk bands.

In languages that veer from French to Czech to English, Happy Madness offers waltz-time chansons of yearning, intrigue and loss (“Magician and the Dancer,” “Marionette”), hypnotically pummeling manifestos of life in the fecund substrata of neo-paganism (“It’s OK,” “Dark Carnivale”), and modal instrumentals that somehow evoke CBGB, Ennio Morricone, and the Port of Marseille (“Happy Madness ,” “Sombrero Cabaret”). This and more is delivered mostly with acoustic guitar, mallet-pounded drums, hand-held percussion, and cinematic, funny, deftly political, and erotic lyrics. Stephenson’s autobiographical “Yes! I’m French” offers the witty line “When those jokers served up freedom fries / I saw Lady Liberty rolling her eyes,” while the sexy romp “Make Out” is a brazen celebration of parking lot intimacy in which one can almost smell motor oil and Aqua Net. Frenchy and the Punk's’ melding of ancient archetypes with scrappy street-level attitude makes Happy Madness a lively must-have for punks, hippies, and everyone inbetween. -

"Review: Bonjour Batfrog"

I recall the first time I saw Frenchy and the Punk, years ago at Dragon Con. I was floored by the amount of sound pouring forth from just two people: lithe vocalist “Frenchy” Samantha Stephenson and acoustic guitar-slinging “Punk” Scott Helland. They stirred the crowd into a frenzy with their potent blend of live percussion, layer-looped guitar riffs, and ridiculously catchy lyrics.

As amazed as I was by the dynamics of their live performance, I wondered how they could ensnare that musical spirit and vibrant personality within a mere recording. Well, they managed to do just that on their previous vocal albums Hey Hey Cabaret and Happy Madness, two albums that have lived on many of my playlists.

Now they've succeeded again with their newest album, Bonjour Batfrog. The eleven tracks aboard the album showcase both the band's whimsical nature and its love of art and artists in all forms.

The collection kicks off with the dark, swaggering "Fe Fi Fo Fum", an earwig of a track that's sure to be a live show crowd pleaser. It's followed by the sly and sensual "Strangers After Midnight", a drum-and-riff stroll through the underbelly of Paris. The song highlights the duo's ability to paint vivid visuals with carefully chosen lyrics and Stephenson's sultry delivery.

I admit, when I first listened to the next track "Bringin' Out The Dead (Edward Gorey Seance)" I didn't recognize Mr. Gorey's name, aside from a reference in FATP's older song "House of Cards". Little did I know I'd been a fan of Gorey since I was a child, when I would watch the Vincent Price-hosted Mystery! series on PBS and be enchanted by its whimsical black and white opening Gorey animation. I'd simply never known the artist's name. Of course, I had to research more of his art, and found that Frenchy and the Punk's song perfectly captures his comedically morbid vision.

The band's tributes to visual artists continue in the dreamlike "Forever and Ever MC Escher", a smooth, catchy ode to the epynonymous artist, known for his reality-bending art. The lyrics suggest a playful romance--or simply an appreciation of the artist--via the imagery of Escher's most famous works, such as his infinite stairways and "My hand drawing your hand drawing mine." It's a delightful song, and easily one of my favorites on the album.

The band ratchets up the rock on tracks like the Helland-sung "Don't Fear the Rabbit" and the fatalistic "Why Should I". Female empowerment takes center stage in the songs "Batgirl" and "She Was a Flapper (Ode to Lois Long)", the latter proudly declaring "Success is the best revenge" in honor of the 1920's New Yorker columnist. The band's also not afraid to slow it down. On the ballad "Carried Away", Helland trades his acoustic punk guitar riffs for delicate picking, creating a soft foundation for Stephenson's gentle vocals.

I've always felt there are two main kinds of steampunk bands: ones that sing about steampunk worlds, and others that seem to inhabit them. Frenchy and the Punk are the latter.

Bonjour Batfrog, and their music overall, feels like something you would hear on the streets and in the clubs of an alternate past. This is a strong album that finds balance between aggressive shout-alongs, and their more introspective--yet no less fun and energetic--looks into their artistic and historical interests. It's a good time, and I highly recommend it to steampunks everywhere.

Check out Frenchy and the Punk via the following links: - Mark Rossmore


Hooray Beret (April 2019)

Bonjour Batfrog 2014

Cartwheels EP 2013

Elephant Uproar CD 2013

Hey Hey Cabaret CD 2012

Happy Madness CD 2010



Across its 10 fiery, witty, and exhortative tracks, Frenchy and the Punk’s Hooray Beret challenges listeners to get off the hamster wheels of modern culture and social identity and cultivate a sturdier self and more authentic values. The fourth full-length from bi-lingual French-born singer Samantha Stephenson and post-punk guitar visionary Scott Helland, Hooray Beret is organic and largely acoustic but relentless in its downhill grooves and cheeky garage noir riffage. In song after song, Stephenson nails the vanities, traps, and disfiguring pressures of 21st century life as she delivers a genuinely affirmative and urgent call to action: the action of self-reflection.

The album-opening “Wah” winks in awareness of this paradox. Over an insistent club beat and a stylish, Euro vocal hook, Stephenson instructs herself to “stay at home on a Saturday night...diving into what feels real.” A feminist theme of self-exploration-as-activism recurs in almost every song. The deliriously cool chorus of the New Wave and spy-toned “Lankey Bell Bottoms” celebrates continual growth and the rejection of triviality, while the gorgeous jangle-pop of “Sing” offers a compact time-lapse portrait of a woman ignoring or forestalling her true calling in five different decades of her life.

Hooray Beret’s message of independence and the shedding of socially imposed identities is well-earned. For more than a decade, Frenchy and the Punk have been refining their own voice in many quadrants of the Balkanized post-punk world. They have essentially invented their own genre in which punk vitality and drive meets an evocative, cinematic way with exotic melodies and European-inflected percussive textures.  A founding member of Deep Wound with J Mascis and Lou Barlow, Helland weaves dark riffs and layers of spidery melody in an acoustic/electric tone that is entirely his own. Stephenson sings with a gothy heft and authority that may remind one generation of Siouxsie Sioux and another of Grace Slick.

Through no design of their own, the Hudson valley, New York, based band has become an in-demand performer on the post-cabaret, mythic, and steampunk scenes, even as they eschew affectation and excessive theatricality. Their engaging, unjaded live shows convert strangers to fans regardless of the setting. Hooray Beret offers the strongest proof to date of this band’s rich and edifying spirit of serious fun. 


US Tour Stops to date:

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Washington DC
West Virginia

European Tours to date


Band Members