punch brothers

The Punch Brother and MacArthur Genius talks about why he chose the mandolin and how it relates to Roger Federer.

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Guitarist Chris Eldridge and mandolinist Chris Thile dig in during a show in Brooklyn, NY on June 30th, 2011.
Photo by David Andrako

The progressive acoustic outfit teams up with a legendary producer to create the band’s most wildly interesting album yet, The Phosphorescent Blues.

The Punch Brothers aren’t a bluegrass band. They aren’t an Americana band. And they sure as hell aren’t a country band. They are a quintet of forward-thinking virtuosos with a singular mission of breaking boundaries and crafting a sound that owes as much to Gustav Mahler as Bill Monroe. Even though they share the instrumental makeup of a classic bluegrass group, the Punch Brothers ethos has always been to look beyond the songbooks of their musical forefathers for inspiration and bring the influences of their own generation into the fold.

The Phosphorescent Blues, the band’s latest album, is an ample summation of their journey to this point. Even the order of the songs doesn’t follow norms. “I just said fuck it. Let’s open the album with a 10-and-a-half-minute song,” beams mandolinist and vocalist Chris Thile. That opening statement, “Familiarity,” combines the preciseness of a Mahler string quartet with the earnest storytelling and undeniable musicianship that make the Punch Brothers, well, the Punch Brothers.

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