FEST Feature Friday: Protagonist

Written by Kayla Albee

Punk rock five piece Protagonist will be performing at FEST this coming November. FEST, a three day music festival taking place in Gainesville, FL, has been happening annually since 2001, making this the 18th year of what can be best described as a punk rock family reunion. With the recent addition of both stand up comedy and wresting, this is a weekend for the books.

The band has released two new singles over the last few months, with the most recent, “Generation Lost,” having come out last Friday. The former, “The Killing Fields,” kicked off a series of re-worked tracks that the band had been holding onto for more than a decade! We had a chance to chat with vocalist Peter Marullo about revisiting unreleased material, his favorite FEST memories, and more! Continue reading down below to learn more about Protagonist and to stream “The Killing Fields.”

Photo by Paris Visone (@parisvisone)

Q: Your new single “The Killing Fields” was released as the first of three new singles. Having been written back in 2007, what was it like to revisit it and make the decision to release it now? 

A: Revisiting "The Killing Fields" was the equivalent of running into an old friend you haven't seen in many years and pickup right where you left off. When we began the recording session for The Chronicle, we had all intentions of including this song on the finished record. We did the initial mix of the record at the Creep House in Pennsylvania with Arik Victor and it was during this process that we realized that the song no longer fit.

"The Killing Fields" has been around since before our first album Hope and Rage and could have easily gone onto that album (It was actually on a demo that we gave to Blackout! Records). It didn’t fit that collection of songs either and decided to “save" the song for our second album. I'm glad that the song is now out in the open and being discovered by listeners. Punk's Not Dead...it's just sometimes unreleased!

Q: There are a handful of other singles that you’re planning on releasing throughout the rest of the year that were recorded around the same time. Do the lyrics from these tracks still resonate with you after the better part of a decade? 

A: Yes, the lyrics definitely still resonate. The next song being released is a is a song called "Generation Lost" and it was one of the first songs ever written for the band by my brother John. For a song written by teenagers, it still hits hard for me.

Q: When recording an album or an EP, do you find it difficult to determine which tracks aren’t going to make the cut, and whether or not you want to release them as stand alone singles? 

A: In the case of The Chronicle yes. All three singles that we are releasing were all recorded with the intentions of being on the LP. When we took a step back and listened, the songs that became The Chronicle neatly and naturally made themselves known. When we entered the studio to record States and Jean Jackets In June, the records we released after The Chronicle, we went in with exactly the songs that ended up on the finished records. We are in the middle of writing our next full-length record, and it looks like we will probably go in with more than we will know what to do with! We have about 20 songs on “the list” right now.

Q: Protagonist have played FEST in the past, so what are you most looking forward to with FEST 18?

A: This will be our 10th FEST! First off, this may be one of the best lineups that The FEST has ever had and that is saying a lot. Kill Your Idols just got added and that is one of our collective favorite bands going back many years. We had the opportunity to do a couple shows with KYI in Florida and PA years ago. In fact, we recorded "Funeral For A Feeling" for a Kill Your Idols tribute comp that ended up not happening. Maybe we'll have to do something with that one of these days.

Our guitar player Brian lives in Gainesville, right in the middle of the action, so we always feel very at home. It's like visiting friends and family members, but with all your favorite bands playing, you get to discover new bands, and you have friends in town from all over the world. It is a Punk Rock holiday.

Q: What’s your favorite FEST memory (so far)?

A: My favorite FEST memory is watching Negative Approach with my brother John, (Protagonist guitar player) and two of my friends including Justin from Teen Agers, in 2016.  It was the last time I saw one of my friends alive. Watching Negative Approach play "Tied Down" with those three individuals will be one memory that will probably never get topped.

A second would be the first time we played. We played Sunday night at 1982 at the same time Leatherface played. Ha! But we still had a nice crowd and we were just so stoked to be playing.

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