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Invincible Czars

Disciples of Frank Zappa’s school of higher learning, the Invincible Czars’ unclassifiable and classically-minded compositions combine klezmer, waltz, funk, polka, and heavy metal, sometimes all in one song, through meticulous arrangements and with an estranged sense of humor that challenges the listener as much as it does the musicians themselves. Guitarist Josh Robins, who toured as part of Graham Reynold’s Golden Arm Trio following the 2006 release of the A Scanner Darkly soundtrack and has collaborated with Golden Hornet and Austin Symphony bassist P. Kellach Waddle’s PKW Productions, formed the sevenpiece ensemble with trumpeter Rick Redman in 2002. Rounded out by Tommy Holton (drums), Adam Kahan (bass), Willie Poland (keys), and Phil Davidson (violin), the Czars released their debut Gods of Convenience in 2005, though they're perhaps more renown for their rocking renditions of classical pieces than their own original work, updating compositions like Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" for the digital age. Each winter, the group revisits Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” performing the holiday favorite across the country in a fashion similar to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The group debuted the piece at the Church of the Friendly Ghost in December 2004, performed it with the Wicked Cricket Dance Theater in 2005, and recorded it professionally in early 2007 after another successful holiday season. – Austin Powell

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05/07/16 @ Hole in the Wall
Invincible Czars 13th Anniversary

A “Czar Mitzvah” of instro-prog reunites past members with deep cuts and Flying Balalaika Brothers.

12/19/14 @ Holy Mountain
Invincible Czars Holiday Spectacular

Prog Nutcracker with space pogo fellow locals Pong.

03/28/14 @ Spider House Ballroom
The Invincible Czars Play Reynolds and Stopschinski

Having successfully re-imagined grand warhorses like Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and Sousa, voracious neo-classical avant-rock collective the Invincible Czars turn their inquisitive prowess loose on two of our own this time. The locals’ new EP of works by ATX composers Graham Reynolds (Golden Arm Trio) and Peter Stopschinski (Brown Whörnet) bristles with tensile, dramatic interplay between guitar, violin, and winds. Friday’s release show doubles as a Golden Hornet Project fundraiser with guest turns from GHP percussion fixture Chuck Fischer and Mother Falcon bassist Dusty Rhodes.

12/14/13 @ Central Market North
Invincible Czars Nutcracker Suite

Tchaikovsky gone prog, 6:30pm – free, local, kid-friendly.

07/01/12 @ Scottish Rite Theater
The Invincible Czars’ Independence Day Picnic and CD Release
Three years in the making, the Invincible Czars’ take on the “1812 Overture” is a formative project/album even for this arty and fundamentally genre-resistant local group. To give the Tchaikovsky piece its proper due, the Czars’ Independence Day Picnic features the CD played in its entirety, plus guest spots from comedians Schave and Reilly, a handlebar mustache contest, and oddities from the Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata. Kids 12 and under get in free.
12/16/11 @
Invincible Czars' LOUD ‘Nutcracker’
Tell Tchaikovsky the news: Austin’s Czars stage their “annual loud holiday show,” with Graham Reynolds’ Golden Arm Trio in the spirit as well.
06/11/11 @ Blue Starlite Drive-In at Austin Studios
Invincible Czars’ ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde’
The Czars feel up John Barrymore at the drive-in.
09/20/09 @ Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek
The Invincible Czars
The Czars soundtrack Fritz Lang’s silent film, Destiny. 7:30pm.
07/04/09 @ Wooldridge Square Park
Fourth of July
Just look on the outskirts of Austin to see proof of the Lone Star State’s year-round obsession with explosives. If you’re not into the possibility of becoming Freddy Four Fingers this weekend, our fair city has plenty of musical distractions. At Wooldridge Square Park, Invincible Czars brass knuckle Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” in collaboration with the Yellow Bike Project, which is releasing a fleet of bikes to use for free. Little Stolen Moments and Rebecca Havemeyer add some tang to the afternoon, starting at 1pm. Up north at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kellie Pickler, Uncle Lucius, Ariel Abshire, and more pop open Freedom Fest. At Emo’s, a Warped Tour-sponsored evening brings Henry Rollins, Gallows, Born to Lose, and more in from the hardcore sun. Mohawk turns back the clock for Jon Snodgrass, Joey Cape of Lagwagon, Cory Branan, and other solo acts. For chill vibes, shuffle to Flamingo Cantina’s Red, Green & Gold Reggae Bash with the Mau Mau Chaplains or to Lamberts for local songstresses Kat Edmonson and Suzanna Choffel. And if you’re indeed looking to lose a digit, Hug, the Horsies, and more dirty up Club 1808.
04/03/09 @ The Scoot Inn
Invincible Czars CD Release
Austin’s instrumental neoclassicists have an eclectic track record touching on everything from post-punk to The Nutcracker Suite, and third LP Fortissimo truly is the sum of their parts. Strings are plucked even harder than usual, lending the album a heavier core, but this masquerade-themed night leaves room for the Czars (and their fans) to levitate. Houston’s Spain Colored Orange opens; local mad geniuses Graham Reynolds and Peter Stopschinski pair up, while animated quartet Bee vs. Moth enters the forbidden zone.
12/19/08 @ Mohawk
Yule Log
Holiday shows are flowing out of the hills like mutant zombie elves (how has that not been a movie yet?), so resistance is futile. Friday, Golden Arm Trio and Invincible Czars double-team Mohawk with sugar plums and nuts, the latter trotting out their skronked-up rendition of The Nutcracker Suite. Cat woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Rebecca Havemeyer, and Little Stolen Momenteer Stanley Roy Williamson camp up an Eternal Christmas at Lamberts Saturday and Sunday. Down south on Saturday, Paul Ray & the Cobras reconvene for their annual Continental rave-up, and the Saxon Pub gets soulful with Papa Mali, Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers, Guy Forsyth, Carolyn Wonderland, Cyril Neville, and more. Also on Saturday, the lovely Rosie Flores and her Riveters scoot their boots into the Driskill Hotel’s piano bar to perform songs from her Christmasville album, while over in the Red River district, Red 7 gets decked out with Amplified Heat, Toko-Ri Get High, and Wine & Revolution. Sunday, stumble back to Mohawk for AustinSurreal’s pre-Christmas chill-out party, then pour yourself into Antone’s on Monday for a Super Soul Christmas with Flyjack, Honeybrowne, and the Jimmy George Band. Lather, rinse, repeat.
11/01/08 @ Room 710
Invincible Czars Creeptacular
With Shaolin Death Squad, Bat Castle, and Mostly Dead.
10/11/08 @ Red 7 CLOSED
Helios Creed
The aggressive, creepy albums of San Francisco’s Helios Creed and his late-1970s duo, Chrome, serve as a link between the unearthly noise favored by 1990s label Amphetamine Reptile and the irreducible oddness of SF’s Residents. This tour is split between Creed’s solo material and songs from the classic Chrome era of 1978-1983. Opening weirdness is provided by local prog miscellaneans the Invincible Czars and Confuzatron.
07/12/08 @ Beerland
Russian Masters Hoot Night
Raise a vodka-infused Lone Star to the memories of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Mussorgsky as Golden Hornet Project principals Graham Reynolds and Peter Stopschinski lead a Red River-style tribute to Russia’s classical masters. Reynolds’ Golden Arm Trio and Stopschinski’s Delicious Food join the Invincible Czars, P. Kellach Waddle, Jason Elinoff, and Neal McKeeby from Drums & Tuba in performing adventurously raucous renditions of the St. Petersburg hit parade.
12/15/07 @
The Invincible Czars' The Nutcracker Suite
12/12/07 @ Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar
The Invincible Czars
The Czars toast Richard Chamberlain’s sugarplum Tchaikovksy with a score for The Music Lovers.
07/28/07 @ The Scoot Inn
Texas Moratorium Benefit
This eclectic benefit collects a wide array of sounds to question Texas' zeal for lethal injection. Of particular interest is the case of Kenneth Foster, slated for execution Aug. 30 under the Law of Parties even though he didn't murder anyone. This variety show features local hip-hopper Damp Heat starting at 8pm, followed by Laura Scarborough's pianistics, the Invincible Czars' klezmerlike avant-gardism, and the Texas Sapphires' country, as well as clowns, dancers, food, and raffles.
06/23/07 @ Room 710
Room 710's Anniversary Weekend
Keeping it real (loud, drunk), Room 710 continues with the tradition of aural assault right on through its seventh anniversary weekend, livers and eardrums be damned. The Red River club's got a lock on cheap beer, neck tattoos, and general rock & roll hooliganistics, and tonight's lineup is just what Dr. Feelgood ordered: Stinking Lizaveta (Philly metal trio led by Tommy Chong look-alike Yanni Papadopoulos), Migas (two-thirds of Tia Carrera), Gorch Fock (beards, seamen), and Jazzus Lizard (c'mon, it's jazz versions of Jesus Lizard songs). Friday, the all-local longhair roundup of Dixie Witch, Amplified Heat, the Quick & the Dead, and Sabbath Crow makes you smell the glove. Saturday offers perhaps the most curious lineup, as local favorites Pong headline, along with Vancouver's smoked erotic comedy duo Canned Hamm, Houston's indie-flavored Spain Colored Orange, and Austin/outer space classicists Invincible Czars.
05/19/07 @ The Scoot Inn
Peter Stopschinski Benefit
Order to the universe is typically elusive when Peter Stopschinski’s act of chivalry during SXSW 07 results in a beating that left the uninsured composer at the mercy of reconstructive facial surgery. Stopschinski’s character embodies the grace of his piano playing, his new Chamber Music another heartfelt confirmation. Cat Scientist; Pong; Graham Reynold’s Ellington tribute, Duke; Lick Lick; Grimy Styles; Invincible Czars; Captain Smoothe; Teddy & Marge; and Lyman Hardy on the decks bring the love. You bring at least $5.
03/01/07 @
Who Hoot Night
The Who’s next. Behind the blue eyes of Pete Townshend, a Gibson without a case, is the “Guitar and Pen.” His vernacular and prose, suites and symphonies, are perfect for reinterpretation. Behold the next generation, led by Zeppelin crashers the Action Is, Grupo Fantasma offshoot Brownout!, burlesquers Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, Invincible Czars, Mo Pair, and more.
02/23/07 @ Room 710
A little something for everyone, the siren call of Blackholicus bassist and singer Margaret Myrick leads the local quartet’s classically minded dual-guitar voyages through a red sea and back on latest leviathan Variations in Death Minor. The Invincible Czars tell Tchaikovsky the news, while Jazzus Lizard embraces the atonal arrangements of the Jesus Lizard’s “Rodeo in Joliet.” The insanely weird La Mancha covers any uncharted territory between.
01/10/07 @ Room 710
Invincible Czars
Coming off a wicked Nutcracker high, it’s the Czars every Wednesday this month. 8pm.
12/16/06 @
Invincible Czars' Nutcracker Suite
Crackin’ nuts with fellow Tchaikovsky-philes Golden Arm Trio.
11/03/06 @ Hole in the Wall
Invincible Czars, Golden Arm Trio
Are you a cellophile? Then get thee to the Hole in the Wall and let your strings hang out. Houston’s all-female string quartet Two Star Symphony emits sex and violins while the experimental mindscapes of Graham Reynolds and Peter Stopschinski’s Golden Arm Trio peel the paint. Local classical assassins Invincible Czars bring the noise with sci-fi junk symphonies of the damned. Don’t fear the reverb.
07/23/06 @ Alamo Drafthouse Downtown
Invincible Czars
Local classical misfits score the Russian sci-fi flick Aelita, Queen of Space at 7 & 9:45pm.
05/13/06 @ Hole in the Wall
Cat Scientist CD Release
The local quintet’s Cicada drones us into summer. Invincible Czars open.
12/08/05 @ Flamingo Cantina
Invincible Czars
Time for The Nutcracker Suite.
10/31/05 @
The Invincible Czars
Three parts funk, two parts klezmer, one part chamber, and eye of newt.
05/28/05 @ Emo's CLOSED
Melt Banana, Daughters
Little-known fact about Japan’s Melt Banana: Their music has a scientifically proven laxative effect, causing you to spontaneously lose your shit and, subsequently, your dignity. It’s a beautiful thing, and their kind of bombastic aggro spazmotics is, too. Their new singles collection, 13 Hedgehogs, puts all the chaos in one place. The fuck-all hardcore of Daughters, the bizarro riffage of the Invincible Czars, and locals Thor & Friends open the show.
05/06/05 @ Room 710
New York trio Darediablo’s gritty new shoot-out, Twenty Paces (Southern), duels out good, bad, and ugly frontier justice, guitar hombre Jake Garcia squaring off against organ-grinder Matt Holford while drummer Chad Royce beats it for cover. "Apache Chicken," "The Bells of Goliad," and the desperate "Billy Got Worse" summon epic battles with all the stomping instrumental expertise of mercenaries scoring a silent Western. Locals Invincible Czars, Ant Man Bee, and La La Land return the hot lead.
08/02/03 @ Emo's CLOSED
Keith Palumbo Benefit
In no exception to what many consider a national crisis, most of Austin’s finest and beloved musicians lack adequate health care, going long periods of time without medical attention and then being unable to pay when the bills come. It’s a plight that Keith Palumbo, drummer for hardcore noisemeisters Sea of Thousand, knows all too well. Palumbo, a longtime Waterloo Records employee, was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and forced to undergo a scary, yet successful, surgery. He’s currently back in action, even pounding the drums again, but the ordeal left him living under a deluge of expenses. Friends Al Shire and Chepo Peña have orga-nized a fittingly loud, two-stage benefit for Palumbo, including 10 bands ranging from hardcore to fluffy pop. The inside stage features Coverage (Peña’s Decendents cover band) as well as Same Day Service, Greyline, and the Invincible Czars, while Emo’s outdoors is anchored by Cruiserweight’s sugary punk-lite and supplemented by side project the LJ Allstars, The Action Is, the National Pastime, and the bombastic Cure-like gloom of Pretty the Quick Black Eyes. The love for Keith will be everywhere.
Last Updated: March 5, 2009

Origin: 2002
Genre: Classical, Experimental, Pop/Rock and World Music
Record Reviews:
Martyrs of the Alamo
* * *
Full Discography:
Gods of Covenience
Above Suspicion (2005)
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