Thanks for your interest in our history! Guitarist and founder Josh Robins here. If you’d like more in-depth info, exclusive videos, audio, etc. join us in the THRONE ROOM OF THE CZARS!
With an 18-year history and tons of personnel changes, our history can be confusing. This personnel chart might help.
OUR STORY SO FAR
2002 – 2003: FORMATION AND NAME
I’d been recording zany musical ideas on 4-track tapes for years. Trumpeter Rick Redman joined me and my drum machine April 2002. We had an all-human line-up by August that sounded rather eastern-Europeanish in Manda Clair Jost on accordion. Bassist Tom Kimzey suggested we name ourselves The _______ Czars . As our first gig drew near (Ruta Maya Dec 2002), I suggested “Invincible” and we went with it. We recorded a demo in early 2003 and played clubs through frequent line-up changes.
2004 – 2007: THE CLASSIC LINE-UP
The Classic Line-up of Tommy Holton (drums), Bill Petersen (keys), Adam Kahan (bass), Phil Davidson (violin), Rick, and I laid the foundation for everything the band has done since - debuted/recorded The Nutcracker Suite, ventured into silent film accompaniment (Aelita: Queen of Mars in 2006 with Sarah Norris on vibraphone) and toured/opened for bands like Estradasphere, NoMeansNo, Sleeptime Gorilla Museum, Melt Banana.
The Austin American-Statesman jokingly named us “the official opening act for anything weird at Emo’s."
2008 – 2014: THE NUTCRACKER ERA
We played a lot of Czar-ified classical music and added a new silent film score every year – but The Nutcracker Suite was so popular that came to define this era. We played clubs a lot less.
It was a return to the days of frequent turnover: We had eight drummers, most notably Louis Landry (who masterminded our 1812 Overture album) and Dave Irish and Gonzalo Ramos. Leila Henley replaced Rick and we recorded Fortissimo. We slowly built a silent film touring circuit from 2011-2013 with bass player Henry Vines contributing heavily to our compositions and Chuck Fischer became our drummer in 2014.
A massive heart attack limited Bill’s activity in 2009 and he died October 2014. We were horribly sad.
2015 – 2019: MORE SILENT FILM
In 2015 our score for Nosferatu eclipsed everything else we did in popularity and by 2016, we were playing all over the US and Canada as four piece – just me, Phil, Leila and Jeff Grauzer on bass. The Alamo Drafthouse called us one of the best in the nation.
Interpersonal drama left only Phil and me on the touring line-up by summer 2017 but Minnesota-based winds player Dylan Younger and long-time friend and guitarist/bass player Aaryn Russell quickly came on board for the fall leg of the tour. Henry returned as a primarily composing member in 2018-19 and we toured with Sarah Jane Hargis on flute for The Phantom of the Opera. Keyboardist/singer Skunk Manhattan joined summer 2019 and we wrote/toured our score for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
2020 – 2021 - POST PANDEMIC
When the pandemic hit, we launched a Patreon page and turned all activity online using the time to finally finish up works in progress. We released The Flash Drive of Dr. Caligari. Chuck re-activated and we kicked off a new Singles Series of rockin’ remote collaborations that include Star Material singer Katie O’Neil.