Papa Pilko & The Binrats are an alternative blues band hailing from Sydney, Australia. Gradually making their way into the Sydney music scene with appearances at many of Sydney’s most prestigious venues – the band blend Juke Joint Blues with the sounds of New Orleans, drawing from such stage performers as Cab Calloway, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins & Jim Morrison. Meghan Player chatted to banjo/trumpet/guitarist, Tom Wilkinson about the band, the sound and their killer debut EP.

How long has the band been together?
We’ve been playing blues together for many years, but the current line-up has been together since November 2011.

Were you all in bands prior to forming Papa Pilko & The Binrats?
We used to be a 5 piece and would play the odd show around Sydney here & there, but for the most part Papa Pilko & The Binrats is everyones first band.

Do you each listen to different styles/genres of music? Do you bring each of these influences into your sound?
We listen to so many different styles of music it would probably do us harm to try and bring each influence into our sound.

Are there any bands in particular that inspired your sound?
Obviously, there are so many of the great Blues/Country/Soul artists of years gone by that inspire us.

More recent acts that inspire our sound range from international artists such as C.W. Stoneking, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Screaming Jay Hawkins all the way through to more local acts like Graveyard Train, Brothers Grim & The Blue Murders, Howlin’ Steam Train, Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes & Mojo Juju… to name a few!

Was the blues/country style, a sound that has always interested you?
Absolutely, although the sound we have is very much just the sound that comes from the 7 of us playing together.

What is it about that sound that made you decide, ‘Yep, that’s how we want to sound.’?
I think ever since we formed the current line-up with 7 people we’ve just been able to sort of create a sound that reminds us of the artists we love to listen to.

Also, the potential is endless with so many instruments at hand. People are often so taken back when they see a 7 piece, but Cab Calloway had an entire Orchestra…

Your debut EP was recently released – can you tell us a little about it?
The intention of the EP was to simply capture as best we could where we were at as a band and to finally get some music to our fans. All the songs were written and performed a few times at shows prior to recording which helped alot in the studio.

It was essentially tracked entirely live which was important to us as we are first and foremost a live band.

We recorded it at Hanging Tree Studio in Surry Hills, Sydney with a good friend Tim Dunn. We firmly believe that Tim runs one of the best studios in Sydney, it is entirely full of vintage analog equipment straight from the 50’s… It’s a close as you’ll get to walking into Sun Studios.

What’s next on the cards for the band? Are you working on another EP or would you like to release a full length?
We’re taking a 6 week break while our drummer is traveling overseas to write, then we’ll be playing all around Sydney through August, Melbourne at the end of August, Brisbane (hopefully) late October and then possibly a few festivals later in the year. As for releasing new music, if we have the money we’ll be in the studio, but no plans as of yet.


Many thanks to Tom for taking the time to chat to us. You can catch Papa Pilko & The Bin Rats at the Vanguard, Sydney with Howlin’ Steam Train on June 30th, 2012.

Papa Pilko & The Bin Rats self-titled EP can be purchased at gigs or via an online store on their Facebook page –


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