Music interview: Papa Pilko and the Binrats

papa pilko-001’s Elfy Scott chats with Tom Wilkinson of Sydney-based band, Papa Pilko and the Binrats:

Your EP launch is taking place at the Basement in Sydney on the 7th December, can you tell us a little about the workings of the EP you’re releasing? Has it been a long time coming?
This is our third official EP. I guess and this one has been in the works since the release of the last one in March, at least. I guess that’s when the songs started getting written.

I had a look at the support acts for the Basement: the Tequila Twins and The Drey Rollan Band. How did you go about choosing them as the introductory acts for the night? Did you have your say in it?
Yeah we picked the supports pretty much because both bands are friends of ours. The opening band I haven’t actually seen yet but I know them through their other work around town and the Drey Rollan Band are really rad, up-and-coming, they’re a rockabilly band and really fun.

I note that you guys have a fair few band members, how did you form? Did you all originate from the same musical background?
It formed mainly through school with the exception of me and the baritone player, everybody went to Gleneaon Steiner School on the North Shore. Somehow we got mixed in it, not sure how, various house parties I guess. For the actually launch we’ll have three additional horn players (Facebook now informs me this has been increased to six. It has gotten hornier).

Where on earth did the name “Papa Pilko and the Binrats” come from?
I think it was a sort of joke that stuck, not surprisingly. Our singer’s last name is Pilko and I think it was a few years ago we were getting some interest from the industry and we booked a load of gigs, a sort of residency under an alias name, so that’s where Papa Pilko comes from. The Binrats is just a term because we used to drink on Brighton Bar on Oxford Street and just end up drinking in the gutter whenever we got kicked out so that was flying around as well. It was a complete, sort of, bit-of-fun-name that stuck. We weren’t sure about it at first, me even hating it a little bit but now it’s pretty awesome and other people seem to like it.

Who would you say, collectively, are your greatest musical influences?
I’m sure there’s a ton of others, for the other lads. I know Si loves Australian rock and roll, there’s some metal, the horn players love jazz, obviously a lot of bluesy stuff floating around. There’s a lot of influences from the more abstract artists like Nick Cave, Tom Waits through to those old school people like Ray Charles. There’s just so much, it’s impossible to name, it’s pretty much everything. Even a lot of the bands that we tour around with and local bands have become a lot more of an influence after seeing hundreds of bands around town.

I was actually going to ask, after noting that you’ve played with a lot of what would be considered to be big Sydney acts, are there any that you guys are particularly inspired by or look up to on the Sydney scene?
Definitely, it’s probably people you would not expect, for me, I think people like Gay Paris are probably one of the best bands in Sydney at the moment. Obviously they’re a lot heavier of a band and people don’t really expect me to come out and say “oh, Gay Paris are rad”. Then it’s through to all of those involved in the garage scenes that’s floating around, Los Tones for instance, are friends of ours and they’re amazing. Then there are obviously big-hitters like Snowdroppers! Those are the ones that come to mind, off the top of my head.

Papa Pilko and the Binrats will be hitting up The Basement in Sydney this Saturday night for their EP launch. I, for one, will be putting on my dancing shoes and my party pants and heading there to catch a great performance from one of Sydney’s liveliest bands. They’ll then play in Brisbane on Friday January 17 @ The Joynt and Melbourne on Friday January 24 @ The Workers Club. Keep up to date with the band on Facebook.

elfy scott


Interview by Elfy Scott.