Inspired by the violence and mayhem of the past, The Payroll Union write and perform forgotten stories of history. Recent project, Paris of America, saw them explore the riot epidemic that gripped the streets of Philadelphia in the 1840s. Inhabiting the stories of radical writers, anti-Catholic brawlers, firebrand preachers, and violent ward bosses, the album imagines a city in great tumult, tearing itself apart. Avoiding hackneyed evocations of the past, the band’s music, and live show, is brutal and devastating. The terror of the stories is matched by the dark, brooding menace of their sound.
The record is a result of a collaborative project with Arts Enterprise at the University of Sheffield. Songwriter, Pete David, worked with historian, Dr. Andrew Heath, to look at how how stories of the past can be told in different ways. Along the way, they worked with a film-maker to chart the process of their work together, Sheffield illustrators and artists, and a number of other musicians, to bring to life these complex, interweaving narratives of a 19th Century American city.
Formed in 2009 in Sheffield, The Payroll Union have shared stages with Johnny Dowd, John Smith and Bellowhead. They have played Galtres, Off The Tracks, Music In The Gardens, Tramlines, Magpie’s Nest, Kendal Calling, Dragonfly and headline slots at both Sensoria 2012 and 2013. After releasing two EPs – Underfed & Underpaid and Your Obedient Servant – they toured the UK with their debut album, The Mule & The Elephant, in February 2013.