Have tunes, will travel

Wandering duo make stop at Canal Public House

By Katie Christoff

Photo: The Punknecks will play Canal Public House on Dec. 10 at 9:30 p.m.; photo: Al Graham

From living out of a car to starting their own record label, Jason and Polly Punkneck, known to their fans as the Punknecks, have done it all.
The self-described punk country band, now a couple, met in a tattoo shop on Hollywood Boulevard in 2004, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Jason said he was gonna hit the road, and I don’t think he thought I’d be down to go with him,” Polly Punkneck laughs, reminiscing on their early days during a phone call with Dayton City Paper. “But I was the only one in the actual band that was down to go.” Just like that, the already-established Punknecks of Los Angeles became a traveling couple.
But first, let’s back up a few weeks to when Jason and Polly Punkneck met.
The Punknecks was Jason’s established band in L.A. He played music and worked in a tattoo shop on Hollywood Boulevard, where he met Polly.
“I was discovering the place, and we started playing guitars for each other on the Hollywood Boulevard stars,” she remembers. “He told me [his band was] in the studio, and if I was interested in singing, I should come by.
“I totally tried to play it cool, but I was so into it,” she continues. “Within three days of meeting each other I was in the studio recording, and we’ve worked together every single day since. The musical collaboration and relationship all started at the same time. We didn’t really want to get together, wanted it to strictly stay bandmates, but the universe had different plans.”
At the time Polly joined, the Punknecks were regularly playing shows in L.A., but Jason soon decided the L.A. scene wasn’t the best place for his band.
“L.A. didn’t know what country music was,” the Tennessee native says. Polly decided to join Jason and his dog in his four-door Buick, and they hit the road, playing open mic nights and free shows at bars.
“We left L.A. with no plan, just a couple of burned CDs and a lot of passion and drive and willingness,” Polly says. “We kind of went out there blind.”
“We kind of renegaded a tour,” Jason adds. “We made money from selling burned CDs and used that as gas money.”
Fast forward 10 years, and the Punknecks book shows months in advance, have five albums under their belt and recently launched their own label, Punkneck Records.
They still don’t have a home base, but they’ve finally traded the Buick in for a 30-foot motor home, their ninth vehicle in the past ten years.
“We like to call it wheel estate,” Jason says. “It’s badass.”
This won’t be the first time their punked-out motor home rolls through Dayton. The duo played Canal Public House just a few months ago, gracing the Gem City with their unique blend of punk and country.
“Punk country is just aggressive Americana music,” Jason explains. “It’s more forward thinking, has elements of drugs and drinking and heartbreak, and is delivered in a more mature sense.”
The band’s name, Polly explains, plays off the terms “punk rock” and “rednecks.”
Jason and Polly Punkneck have overcome their fair share of difficulty breaking into the music industry, and they recently launched Punkneck Records to help similarly struggling yet driven artists.
“It’s something we’ve been working on the whole time we’ve been on the road, so by trial and error and experience, we’ve decided this is what we need to do to put our music and our friends’ music out there,” Polly says. “It’s something we are passionate about, and they are worth helping.”
“We’ve done stuff from booking tours and shows to creating music videos,” Jason says. “It’s one big family. Everybody involved knows us on a really personal level, and I think that’s why we feel so passionate.”
Jason and Polly Punkneck are sharing their story with their fans, and holding back nothing. In early 2016, Punkneck Records will release a full-length documentary they spent months filming.
“It shows some of the most trial and tribulating things in rock and roll actually,” Jason says. “A friend came to film us for months solid. He caught every moment, the ups and downs, glamour and grit.”
“It’s like riding in the back of our tour bus,” Polly adds.
It may seem like the Punknecks are already in over their heads, but it’s difficult to even crack the surface of all the things they’re involved in. Polly will release her third solo album, Razzmatazz, on Punkneck Records at the beginning of next year.
“And that doesn’t even touch the songwriting and Polly going to college online,” Jason adds.
“We like to keep busy,” Polly says in closing, and the understatement of the interview.

The Punknecks will perform Thursday, Dec. 10 at Canal Public House, 308 E. First St. at 9:30 p.m. The show is for patrons 21 and up. For more information or to purchase their music, please visit punknecks.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Christoff at KatieChristoff@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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