What a Difference a Year Makes

Punch Drunk Tagalongs hit the main stage at PorchRokr 2016

by Gabe Gott

Punch Drunk Tagalongs’ frontwoman, Alisha Stahnke, attended last year’s PorchRokr as a member of the audience. This year, she and her band will not only be performing, but doing so on the main stage.

“I love being part of the audience and seeing great bands play, but it’s a whole other experience being on the other side of that and playing to a crowd. I really, really enjoy that,” says Stahnke. “It’s kind of similar to what I’ve been reading, ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ by Carrie Brownstein, and she actually explains how she is on the other side at the beginning of her adulthood and how she just wanted to be on the other side of it,” she says. “So I guess it’s very similar to that. I’ve always felt like that. I enjoy going to shows, but I always have been drawn to play rather than just watch.”

Stahnke started out as a singer/songwriter and spent about a year writing original songs and performing at area open mic nights. It was around this time last year that she decided she wanted to form a band.

“We started off playing my original songs, and as the band has grown, we’ve kind of broken off from just me writing,” she explains. “Now the whole band writes as a unit, and our sound is actually starting to evolve… which is really cool,” she says.

The  band members were all friends prior to forming the band. Guitarist Caleb Lemmo is Stahnke’s boyfriend. Lemmo and drummer Ryan Hunter are in another area band together called Broken Mugs, and according to Stahnke, they got to know bassist Alex Wright because he can be found at “any random bar on any given night.”

“We had some growing pains in the beginning, but we learned how to communicate and how to work as a group, together,” Stahnke says. “I think it’s just like anything — any relationship — you learn how to communicate within it and how the dynamics work, and now we’re like a nicely oiled machine.”

The band played its first show this past November and has since performed at venues all around the area, including Annabell’s, Musica and the Beachland Ballroom, to name a few.
“People always seem surprised — ‘Oh, how long have you guys been playing together?’ and I’m always like, ‘We’re kind of an instant band still,’ and they’re always like, ‘What?!’ Sometimes, we come off as slightly professional,” Stahnke laughs, “which is good and what we really, really strive for. You want to make people think that you’ve been playing together for a decade, so that’s what we try to do, and sometimes it comes off that way.”

Punch Drunk Tagalongs released its first four-song demo in January, which is available on Bandcamp and iTunes, and is currently working on a second recording, which the band hopes to release in early September. Following that, the members hope to continue building a fanbase and playing more shows regionally. However, according to Stahnke, they have an even bigger goal for the not-too-distant future.

“I know one of my goals in life before I’m 30 is to get into a car — SUV, van, whatever it is — and cross the country and play music to different people every single night,” Stahnke says. “I’m sure that’s a few other band members’ goal also. That’s a really big goal, though.”

(Featured photo of Punch Drunk Tagalongs performing at the Beachland by Jarrod Berger)