Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys
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Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys

Boston, MA | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Boston, MA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Indie




"Favorite New England music videos of 2015"

By Victor D. Infante

Posted Dec. 18, 2015 at 6:00 AM
Updated Dec 18, 2015 at 1:47 PM

2015 most likely won’t go down in history as a great year for music videos. Oh, there were some standouts. Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” was virtually a mini-action-adventure movie, with a star-studded cast that featured Kendrick Lamar, Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Hailee Steinfeld, Jessica Alba, Cindy Crawford and more. David Bowie laid out a virtual fantasy movie for his “Blackstar.” Carly Rae Jepsen recruited the most likable guy in showbiz, Tom Hanks, for her charming “I Really Like You.” Pink Martini brought some gorgeously muscular ballet with “Eugene (Watch Your Back),” and Sia created a moving and brutally honest representation of a father-daughter dynamic with “Elastic Heart,” featuring actor Shia LaBeouf and dancer Maddie Ziegler. No slouches, any of them.
But if this year is remembered for anything, it’ll be as the year local acts finally had enough access to the technology needed to get into the music video game for real. This is the first year where I felt I had more than enough videos to come up with a list of 10 favorites made entirely of New England artists — some bright and poppy, some heavy and filled with portent and emotion, but all of them adding up to a vital and burgeoning music scene.

With “Where’s Your Ghost,” Boston artist and musician Walter Sickert and his madcap carnival of a band manage to start off the listener with a cool, trancelike buzz and then escalate the sound to a rock ’n’ roll whirlwind. The video manages to capture that feeling, beginning with hand-drawn animated images and then superimposing photographs of the band’s live performances with increasing rapidity, the result being an experience that’s both intense and strangely cathartic - Worcester Telegram

"In 'Shockheaded Peter' no child is safe"

By Jeremy D. Goodwin GLOBE CORRESPONDENT MARCH 05, 2015

When actor Jacob Athyal steps through a door of the drawing room arranged onstage, there’s a round of spontaneous applause from the cast and crew scattered throughout the orchestra space of the Modern Theatre. The response is to the large mask he’s wearing, apparently for the first time in rehearsal. It definitely has a grotesque effect, suggesting perhaps an elongated cow’s skull with a stringy, orange beard.

The team needs to get this moment right. The script calls for the unnamed creature to look “truly horrific,” and even that vague phrase is one of the most specific staging demands made by the authors. Athyal scoops up a prop that’s standing in for the puppet of Conrad, a little boy who had his thumbs cut off because he wouldn’t stop sucking them.

“This is the ominous, Conrad-being-pulled-away music?” director Steven Bogart asks his team, as a burst of truly spooky music fills the air. It is. “It doesn’t get more ominous than that,” Bogart says with some bemused satisfaction.

None of the children in “Shockheaded Peter” is safe, and in this case, neither is the father; after the exit of the appropriately horrific creature, he’s swallowed up in a very claustrophobic bit of business.

Death by horrific means is all around in this truly twisted musical, but death-by-thumb-snipping has never seemed so fun. The slender, 23-page script is based on “The Struwwelpeter,” a Victorian-era collection of often-gruesome cautionary tales for children, written in verse by Heinrich Hoffmann. Aside from an establishing scene at the top of the show, the script is mainly made up of song lyrics, interstitial text spoken by an emcee, and some basic stage directions. It leaves most of the creative decisions in the hands of whatever group of artists is staging it.

Shockheaded Peter
Modern Theatre,

Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott
Steven Bogart
Other Credits:
Original music and lyrics by the Tiger Lillies
Performing company:
Company One Theatre and Suffolk University
Date closing:
April 4
Ticket price:
Company website:

So it seems a truly inspired move for Company One Theatre to team Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, a self-described “steamcrunk” band fond of musical oddity, with director Bogart. Bogart, onetime mentor of the theatrically minded chanteuse Amanda Palmer, was 56 when he made his professional debut in 2010, directing Palmer in an American Repertory Theater production of “Cabaret.” He left his job as drama teacher at Lexington High School after that and has worked steadily ever since; right now he’s fresh off a production of “Pinocchio” at Wheelock Family Theatre that was informed by traditional Japanese Kabuki theater. He once directed a student production of the seemingly merry “Seussical” in which the Whos were envisioned as survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s about the idea of burying our inner child,” Bogart says of this Company One production, “the way we treat children, the way we try to educate them, the way we try to tell them how to behave and how to think and how to imagine. And that we do things as adults unintentionally, sometimes intentionally, to suppress or oppress the child’s imagination. So that speaks to me very strongly as an educator in public school for many years, in the arts. It was always about trying to encourage students’ imagination rather than trying to control their imagination.”

At the Modern, Bogart has stationed some of the band on the upper level of a two-story set, while others move around through the house.

Hoffman’s lyric poems depict one child dying as a result of his misdeeds, with the others merely being punished severely. It’s no spoiler to note that in “Shockheaded Peter,” they all die. Well, crucially, one is locked away under the drawing room, and though his fingernails grow through the floorboards at one point, we have to wait to find out what happens to him.

In the series of vignettes, one child is slovenly, another is chubby, another is dangerously fond of playing with matches. Sickert and band have fleshed out the original arrangements to suit their seven-piece ensemble, and songs like “Conrad” and “Bully Boys” emerge, despite their grim subject matter, as demented sing-alongs with more than a tinge of carnival flavor. The violence in the story is pushed to some place on the spectrum between truly scary and almost farcical; Bogart says it’s all about pushing the notion of punishment to an extreme.

This adaptation of Hoffmann’s work was created by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott as a devised piece with their English troupe, with music and lyrics by the off-kilter trio the Tiger Lillies. It premiered in London in 1998 but had yet to enjoy a professional production in New England. This production begins performances on Friday and runs through April 4.

It seems entirely fitting that Sickert saw a production of “Shockheaded Peter” in New York when he was a teenager, and it proved a formative moment for him. Later, the Broken Toys’ first-ever tour included an opening slot for none other than the Tiger Lillies. Sickert says he sucked up insight into the band’s approach, and “Shockheaded Peter” specifically, over post-show drinks.

The play “reminds me of when you’re a kid and you stay up past your bedtime so you can see a horror movie you’re not supposed to be seeing,” Sickert says. “You know you’re being naughty, you know you’re getting away with something, but you’re really excited to get away with it. And then you definitely have some kind of a [expletive] nightmare after that.”

As the narrator-emcee, Alexandria King is charged with leading the audience through this whole experience. She says it’s been a process of figuring out how to balance the blend of light and dark.

“Humor always helps us tell the saddest stories, doesn’t it?” King says. “Humor is used to tell this story, as tragic as it is, because it’s needed. If we can’t laugh our way through it, we may break from the reality of the darkness. And that’s what I like about it.”

Jeremy D. Goodwin can be reached at - Boston Globe

"The Collaboration That Sparked "Shockheaded Peter'"

The Collaboration That Sparked ‘Shockheaded Peter’
Susanna Jackson
March 5, 2015

BOSTON For Company One, recreating “Shockheaded Peter” as it was originally produced would have proved impossible. The nightmarish musical, created by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott in 1998, wickedly critiques Heinrich Hoffmann’s “Struwwelpeter,” a collection of Victorian, Brothers Grimm-esque moral and cautionary tales originally written to scare the author’s son into behaving.

The challenge at hand is not found in the complexity of the source material, but how the play was built around the unique, unmatchable aesthetic of The Tiger Lillies, a British cult musical trio who are credited as the pioneers of Brechtian Punk Cabaret and can be recognized by Martyn Jacques’ trademark falsetto. Instead of attempting to fill the trio’s six shoes for the New England premiere, Company One decided to style it all their own. Integral to that was finding a collaborator as theatrical and particular — and perhaps peculiar — as The Tiger Lillies.

Enter Boston’s own steamcrunk seven-piece ensemble: Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys.

“I knew right away that the collaborators on such a visual and experiential project make the thing or break it,” Shawn LaCount, artistic director of Company One, says of the play, which previews on March 6 before opening on the 7th. The play runs through April 4.

“It was kind of a no-brainer. The people who came to mind immediately were the Army of Broken Toys. They are a band that understands what theater is, which is really important, because we weren’t asking them to sit quietly behind a scrim and play like you would in a musical. We were asking them to lend their aesthetic to take over the piece — the primary artistic collaborator.”

As LaCount sought the rights to “Shockheaded Peter” with the Army of Broken Toys in mind, the band had their eyes on Company One, too. Last spring, after attending a performance of Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Flick” at Suffolk’s Modern Theatre, home also to “Peter,” band member Edrie took to Twitter. LaCount recalls the tweet from @armyoftoys: “Loved the piece and would love to work together sometime.”

“I tweeted back right away,” says LaCount with a laugh. “‘Funny you should say that …’”

More surprising than the fortuitous timing is the special relationship the Army of Broken Toys has with the material and The Tiger Lillies. After graduating high school, on a trip of self-discovery and shenanigans driving around the country in his Cadillac, Walter Sickert says he heard about an ongoing production of “Shockheaded Peter” and sought it out. He saw two performances on back-to-back nights.

“I had never seen anything that was so grotesque and beautiful,” says Sickert on the phone during one of the many blizzards that have hindered, but not halted rehearsals. “It married a lot of the things I loved when I was a kid. The Jim Henson-style puppets and the feeling that you’re seeing something you’re too young to see. You know, you stayed up late to see the horror movie that’s on TV past your bedtime.”

“It also set me off on a path of making art and music that drew on the feelings of childhood and nightmares, and exploring the far off regions of imagination.”

Years later, squatting in a barn in New Hampshire with the memory as a quasi-mood board (and equipped with a heater, generator and four-track recorder), Sickert laid down a few tracks that would become the foundation of Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys — a sound he now describes as “a Johnny Cash and Parliament-Funkadelic meets Nine Inch Nails and who-the-hell-knows.”

With no other band members and an overcompensating name, Sickert met Edrie, a local musician, artist and arts promoter, and the solo project become a duo. After only a handful of nightclub gigs around the city, the pair were offered the chance to drive out to Los Angeles to be the opener at the Royce Hall, a 1,800-person capacity venue. They would be opening for none other than The Tiger Lillies, a professional encounter that would evolve into a friendship.

Since then, the Army has tumbleweeded into a force of seven — picking up TJ Horn (percussion), Rachel Jayson (viola), jojo Lazar (ukele, flute), Mike Leggio (double bass) and Meff (mandolin, guitar, mustache). The mix of self- and classically-trained musicians each offer their own creative flair to the collective that aims to “live outside the box of what’s expected of a rock band” and consistently seek out new performance adventures. The band continuously puts out new music, and has released three (soon to be four) official albums as a full band. In 2012, they worked with Liars & Believers (LAB) on their original SteamCRUNK musical, “28 Seeds” for a sold-out run at the Boston Center for The Arts. Sickert is also currently scoring his first feature film, “Some Freaks,” for director Ian McDonald and scoring two “Alice” shorts for American McGee.

While they often invite guest musicians and artists to join them on-stage, Sickert says the current group is very much a family and has likely found its equilibrium, its permanent form. But he qualifies it, offering the quip, “Never say never.”

For this production, the Army of Broken Toys has invited Boston-based performer Jen Kenneally to fill in for Edrie onstage as she and Sickert welcome their first child. Edrie, who is listed as The Wrangler in the “Shockheaded Peter” playbill, maintains her role as a driving force of the production. The baby, Wednesday, was expected to arrive during the middle of the run, but the family saw an early delivery and welcomed her on Feb. 23.

“In spite of Wednesday being early, the show must go on,” Edrie writes in a e-mail on the day she returns home after giving birth. “Ironically, she was born on the one true day off Walter had before opening night!”

She continues: “I’m heavily involved in the production and have been doing as much as I can to make sure opening night is spectacular! Wednesday has been listening to the songs for months! I’m sure she is early because she wanted to experience “Shockheaded Peter” [first] hand. If everyone is up to it, she’ll be there opening night!”

In an earlier correspondence, she says of Wednesday’s arrival, “That’s the other big project Walter and I were working on.”

Given the band’s interest in the material and love of collaboration and cross-pollination in the arts — an interest shared and practiced by Company One as a way to expand their radically-inclusive audience reach — joining forces was as much a “no-brainer” for them as it was for Shawn LaCount and the rest of the crew.

“Yes, yes, yes,” would be Sickert’s answer.

Of course, not everyone involved in the production is on board solely because they’re drawn to the dark, twisted material as if they’re being beckoned home by the mothership. Alexandria King, who plays the MC (a role previously played only by men) from atop platform pleather knee-high boots (and occasionally stilts), says she’s scared of horror. She playfully recalls her father’s notorious scary stories — mimicking his deep baritone — that led to the aversion. But King, who also starred in Company One’s “Splendor,” welcomes the challenge to star in a play unlike any she has ever acted in, and appreciates what one finds mixed into the madness of “Shockheaded Peter.”

“Looking at this script, I knew it was going to be really fun to put on,” says King, “but it has a really important message embedded in it, which is, what are we doing to our children as parents and as a society and what effect does that, in turn, have on the parent and society? How is our relationship with the youth hurting us as a people? I thought that was amazingly important — as a mother and a teacher.”

Played out in vignettes under a larger umbrella story of a family who rejects their own child and banishes him to live under the floorboards — the titular Peter — the musical’s anecdotal tales of thumb-sucking, playing with matches and shooting guns are also explorations of our society’s relationship with creativity and the individual. These themes not only fit neatly into Company One’s season, sandwiched between “The Displaced Hindu God’s Trilogy” and “Edith Can Shoot Things And Hit Them” (a collaboration with Huntington Theatre Company), they also resonate deeply with director Steven Bogart.

“One of the things that really emerged for me when I started really thinking about the piece and digging into it was the idea of the abandoned child within all of us and how in our culture in different kinds of situations — whether it’s in education in schools, or the way we treat artists in the world, et cetera — we often crush children’s imaginations and we crush their impulses and their desire to experiment and their desire to go out and adventure,” says Bogart. “We get so frightened as adults and parents and teachers and administrators that we often put roadblocks in the way of creative development or even just nurturing a whole child.”

Of working with the band, Bogart says, “They’re a very mobile band. The individual musicians often move out and perform, they don’t all just sit onstage. They come out into the audience. So the challenge that we have is how to integrate that idea into the staging of the individual stories, plus the main story, and how to use the band, the way they perform, in an effective way, that allows for the piece to still hold it’s own, for the piece not to just be a band number.”

During a recent open rehearsal at the Modern Theatre, human screams and cat yowls carried from the stage into the lobby and harmonized with the howling winds coursing down Washington Street. The noises of Boston’s abominable winter would’ve been drowned out if Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys picked up their instruments and released their dynamic full-bodied sound, but that day the band acted as audience while Sickert’s compositions played quietly from a stereo — 11 tracks that he hopes evoke a mood of “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” meets “Hellraiser.” The music, lyrics and the intermittent monologuing from King’s MC provided the tempo and cues for the cast’s pantomiming and puppetry, as the seven musicians looked on, their stations on tiered scaffolding empty, and imagined where they fit physically, not just sonically, into this beloved, ghoulish play.

Susanna Jackson’s writing has been featured in Art New England, Boston Globe and DigBoston. You can find her on Twitter @suedoesnttweet. - Artery WBUR

"Missing 28 Seeds with Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys"

Walter Sickert and Meff from the Army of Broken Toys are missing their musical 28 Seeds, which just closed at Boston Center for the Arts. And while I can't speak for you, I'm missing it too. In fact, I completely missed it all together, much to my sadness--especially since I like to pay special attention to intersections of local music and other mediums.

Watch the promotional video here, safe for work, especially if you work with animals.

28 Seeds was the biggest musical/theatrical performance from a live Boston act since Amanda Palmer did Cabaret at A.R.T. But this one was an original work. Frankly I'm not surprised that the show was a success. In some ways, the transition to stage for Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys is an organic one. After all, their live shows already include costumes (at least I think they are costumes) and a strong burlesque element. Gothic folk mixed with punk and Eastern European influences--a lot of which sounds like a more gypsy verison of Pere Ubu to me--Steamcrunk, they call it. Although, I think using a genre to describe the band is more a convenience for journalists than an accurate depiction of what the Army is really up to.

28 Seeds was the story of the end of the world, as imagined by Walter Sickert in collaboration with Broken Toy, Meff. The production was developed in collaboration with Liars & Believers and directed by Jason Slavic. In it, stories, songs, propaganda and advertisements are used to tell the story of an impending asteroid, a government cover-up (surprise, surprise), plague, famine, war, and Earth's final days. All with great original music, no less, that Sickert describes to me as, War of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Worlds. To me it sounds vaguely like something that would be concocted in a booth at Denny's at 3AM in the middle of Arkansas. In the best way. Am I wrong? Not really. "I wrote alone in my closet in 7 hours," says Sickert.

"The entire play is told in "found document" format," says Meff. "So each scene is a memo, or a Youtube post, or a tv commercial, news report, etc. The show actually was developed as the 'anti-showtunes.'" Sickert agrees in this description of the show's alternative approach. "We didn't want to make Cats."

According to Meff and Sickert, the whole thing started as an album, and was developed to a stage show from there (much like Futurity, recently at A.R.T). Don't take my word for it, sink your ears into the whole 28 Seeds album here. It's a blast.

So now what? Is 28 Seeds over? Will I get a chance to see it? What's next? Will the world really end? Will I slow down with the questions?

"We hope 28 Seeds isn't over," says Sickert. "We have a few producers asking us some interesting questions about its future including one wanting to stage it off Broadway, another who wants to bring it to the UK. We've also been approached by a few different people about making a movie, a video game and writing a book... the possibilities are endless. My dream would be to see all of these things happen. More than a few people mentioned it was the next Rocky Horror - I say, get your toast and your Pale Horse pasties ready kids; it's going to be a wild ride!"

And what about Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys? Is this band, this production, this organism, is too big for Boston?

"Sometimes I think this organism is too big for this reality, that's why we created our own," says Meff. "In all seriousness, it was the most amazing experience of my life. Watching something that formed in Walter and my demented brains come to life in such a huge, colorful, hilarious, scary, wonderful way is almost impossible for me to describe."

- The Boston Globe

"28 Seeds"

When you get a group together to try and turn a steampunk radio play into a steampunk musical, some problems are simply unavoidable.

“The monkey-knife fight was pretty tough to translate to the stage,”

muses playwright/bandmember Meff on the Liars & Believers Theater Company/Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys band collaboration, but struggles like these are not in vain. 28 Seeds works to give its audience a totally unique theater experience, an apocalyptic rock opera that doesn’t stoop to the doldrums of today’s rock musicals.

Seeds originates from the aforementioned Broken Toys, who released 28 Seeds: The Last Radio Play back in 2010. The end of the world is the name of the game, but “government conspiracy, burlesque, ray guns, and tentacles” also show themselves. Today, the LP has grown into a more tangible entity, starting its month-long run as a live show at the Boston Center for the Arts on April 19.

“It’s sort of a musical, but not a musical,” explains Broken Toys member Edrie. “It’s very interactive; it’s Sleep No More meets the crazy thing your uncle does. We want to have the most fully immersive experience as possible.”

Immersive is indeed a driving force in Seeds, from the musical’s characters tweeting in real life about their fabricated universe’s end to an accompanying comic book for theater patrons.

This is a musical that simply refuses to stay on stage.

And for those squeamish about the terms “theater” or “musical,” 28 Seeds is set to become your new best friend.

“I want people who go to rock shows, or people who read comic books to be like, ‘Oh, I feel like there’s a place for me,’” says Meff. “It’s not Andrew Lloyd Weber, it’s totally different.”


TIMES VARY/16+/$35

"Out: Walter Sickert envisions his Broken Toy apocalypse"

Throughout history, influential entertainers such as Stanley Kubrick, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and the dudes who wrote the Bible have peddled theoretical final chapters to history. But unlike Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, those people lacked the gumption to envision the end times as an all-singing, all-dancing multimedia spectacular. "Ever since I was a little kid, I have been obsessed with the apocalypse," says Sickert. "I don't know if it was from being thrown into Catholic school when I wasn't baptized, then kids finding out and chasing me around with Bibles; or from when I grew up in a boat and the boat burnt down. But it's fascinating how multicultural the idea is."

The dirgey darkness of the Toys' art-rock rightly foretells that 28 Seeds — a musical coproduced by the Toys and avant-garde troupe Liars and Believers — ain't Guys and Dolls. Sickert's dreams of dystopia interfuse with a saga incorporating the proliferation of mechanical trees, nationalistic fury against Canada, a terrorist organization with a sexy secret, and a disembodied human brain that could save us all. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't.)

Despite the Toys' renowned penchant for theatricality, the two-time Readers' Poll winner for best artist and his longtime accomplice Edrie guesstimate that they've seen only three or four stage-plays within the past 10 years. But at the behest of Liars and Believers, they consented to convert the 28 Seeds radio play into a live spectacle a few years ago. Notable credit goes to the Toys' in-house playwright and mandolin player, known as "Meff."

"People like to scare themselves into doing things," says Sickert. "It's a great excuse, you know? 'The world's going to end! Let's make as much art or fuck as much as we can or —' "

" 'Repent!' " Edrie chimes in sarcastically. Adds Sickert: "We know the end of the world will happen to all of us, individually, because of death. No one gets out of that."

28 SEEDS | Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St, Boston | Until May 12 | 16+ | $35 | 617.426.5000

Read more: - The Boston Phoenix

"'The Night Circus': Join The Discussion"

--Art and Live Performance By Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys --

Join our discussions below about "The Night Circus." Here's who you'll be hearing from...

Andrew Losowsky, Books Editor
I'm British, so anything you think I've spelled wrong, is actually just spelled older. I look for stories to take my brain into new spaces, and I'll be particularly discussing the facts as we think we know them, and the clues I think we're being given by the story. Let me know if you think I'm wrong! I'll also be choosing a few facts to use as jumping-off points for tangential discussions.

Zoë Triska, Associate Books Editor
I was a Literature major so I can't help analyzing every single thing (from the syntax and language to metaphors, similes, you name it). I (reluctantly) admit that I'm one of those people who Googles phrases, places, names every couple of pages when I'm reading. There are constantly things that stump me, though so I'd love to hear your thoughts on the significance of words, places, phrases, events that take place in the book.

Madeleine Crum, Assistant Books Editor
I like looking at language particularities, but in case you think that's a snooze (you wouldn't be alone), I'm also interested in reading what critics say about books and whether their reviews are spot on or way off. Let's talk about it.

Annemarie Dooling, Community Editor
Quotes, locations and descriptions speak to me the same way characters do. I love dissecting the same details that tell us more about the story than the actual prose. If you read the same books over and over and over again the same way you visit an out-of-town friend, we're going to get along just fine.

Here's our reading schedule:
May 27: Pages 1-64, or beginning through Condolences
June 3: 65-141, or The Contortionist's Tattoo through Atmosphere
June 10: 142-205, or Reveurs through Ailuromancy
June 17: 206-266, or Tete-a-Tete through Stormy Seas
June 24: 267-328, or An Entreaty through Precognition
July 1: 329 and on, or Pursuit through the end.

If you'd like to blog your experiences, or join the discussion, leave a comment below and let us know what you think about "The Night Circus." - The Huffington Post


After hours of band practice, night after night of shows, and untold weeks spent on tour, these five performers don’t just catch up with Parks and Rec in their downtime. Sleep? Totally overrated. Instead, they channel their other creative side in the arts.

From selling crafts on Etsy to producing ‘zines, here are five multi-talented musicians.

Sickert and his group, the Army of Broken Toys, boast a so-called “SteamCRUNK” vibe—a jumble of circus performance eeriness, booming horns, and Sickert’s powerful drawl. On music and art, he said, “I have to do both to feel normal. It’s been that way since I was a kid. Our live shows are an art installation as much as a musical event. Kind of like your toy chest opened an art–brothel.” With no boundaries between his two professions, Sickert actively creates designs and album art for his band. Recently, he directed the short film Dear Moon and he illustrates unique prints with a touch of satire like “Occupy Walrus.” He is also involved in the creation of the immersive musical “28 Seeds,” opening on April 20 at the Boston Center for the Arts. - The Dig

"Seeds of Destruction"

Our inner worrywarts made it tough to enjoy 2012’s unseasonably warm winter: we kept picturing a wall of water from melted ice caps roaring through Back Bay. Clearly, it’s hard to resist rubbernecking at an imagined apocalypse, so sign us up for 28 Seeds, a new musical that employs live actors, video, and dance to portray a planetary collapse.

In the tradition of eco-driven science fiction like Dune, 28 Seeds concerns itself with the disastrous results of unchecked industry. “Our central plot idea is resource shortage, taken to an extreme,” explains director Jason Slavik, founder of avant-garde theater troupe Liars & Believers. “In the play, there’s no clean air left in the United States, so, naturally, we go to war with Canada.” As North America descends into dire human-caused conflict, the cast also finds itself faced with a looming natural disaster: an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. And the growing call for action falls upon the deaf ears of a government consumed by its own agenda.

If this all sounds a bit too plausible for comfort, you’re not alone. “There’s a troubling parallel between the play and the rate at which we’re consuming oil and how that may worsen global warming,” says Slavik. But don’t expect a depressing PSA: 28 Seeds promises a rollicking ride, in no small part thanks to its music, which comes courtesy of the fantastical steamcrunk ensemble Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys. Slavik met Sickert during the run of Liars & Believers’ 2010 “punk fairy tale,” Le Cabaret Grimm. Each show opened with performances by different Boston “fringe artists,” says Slavik, referring to eccentric performers who rarely see the mainstream spotlight but are nonetheless “dark, interesting, and beautiful.” Sickert opened Grimm’s first night with his unique steampunk style, which Slavik affectionately calls “inventorly.” Think Jules Verne meets Tim Burton. “For costuming, you stitch velvet with steel, outfit a top hat with work goggles, or build a corset with gears,” Slavik says. “It’s all very DIY, in an industrial, tongue-in-cheek sort of way.”

With his ensemble, the Army of Broken Toys, Sickert delivers steamcrunk music that piles fiery vocal work atop jazzy double bass, violins, and folk guitars. Clad in feathers, tights, and other garb that seems scavenged from a Victorian circus cart, they provide a rambunctious soundtrack for the play’s mad scientists and fascist generals, endowing the apocalypse with more scraggly merriment than we’ve encountered since “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.” Hear it for yourself when 28 Seeds plants itself on stage at the BCA Plaza Theatre (539 Tremont Street, Boston, 617.426.5000) from April 19 through May 12. Visit for tickets ($35) and show times. - Stuff Boston

"Acts to Follow: Our annual round-up of the city’s rising musical stars."

Infidelity has its bright side. When their spouses ran off with each other, Walter Sickert and art-scene associate Edrie Edrie found solace in steamcrunk music.

“It’s either become an artist or a serial killer, and I’ve always thought the artist is a better choice,” says singer/guitarist Sickert, who channeled his dark emotions into songs that he shared with Edrie, sowing seeds for the Army of Broken Toys.

“People that joined the band are sort of outsiders in their own field,” Edrie says of the vaudevillian octet, whose members play instruments that include viola, ukulele, clarinet and stand-up bass. For her part, Edrie plays the accordion as well as toys like a boxed glockenspiel and a cymbal-clapping monkey.

A performance troupe called the Bunny Collaborative packs the audience with fire-eaters, human marionettes and burlesque dancers. “I’m constantly onstage going ‘Whoa!’ myself,” Edrie says. “I never know what’s going to happen.”

Sickert, who evokes Dr. John the Night Tripper with his feathered top hat, views the music as a complement to his twisted work as a visual artist: “If you’re going to come out to a show, it should be an art exhibit/carnival rather than people standing around.”

Unsurprisingly, the band’s weekly rehearsals can get as crazy as their shows. “It’s constant chaos,” Edrie says. “Basically it’s like a big family dinner where we end up with music as the dessert.” - The Improper Bostonian

"The Army of Broken Toys Host Steam Crunk Lounge at Boston's First Night"

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys are bringing a menagerie of musicians and performing artists to the Hynes Convention Center for ?Boston's First Night? celebration this year.

Edrie Edrie, who cofounded the Somerville-based Army of Broken Toys with Walter Sickert, said the group played a half-hour set to a packed house at last year's First Night celebration, but were asked to curate an entire night this time around.

"We're really lucky this year," she mused. "We did well enough that they asked us back."

Expect a number of artists to join the Toys in ringing in the New Year, all of whom fulfill the group's "'SteamCrunk' aesthetic," said Edrie. The night's lineup includes the ?Somerville Symphony Orkestar?, psychedelic surf band the ?Trabants?, and the self-dubbed "retrosexual, Jewy vaudeville" duo ??Meff n' jojo's Tiny Instrument Revue?, as well as magician/escape artist Dezrah The Strange and ?burlesque performance artists ?Johnny Blazes? and ?Madge of Honor, who hold the honor of bringing the oh-so-highbrow holiday show The Buttcracker to Boston this season. ?

In short, it’s what you could call an eclectic roster featuring the best and darkest of the Boston underground circus-burlesque scene.

Besides knowing the lineup, it's hard to know what else is in store for "The Steam Crunk Lounge" experience. The band is known for its carnival-like sets and spontaneity.

"Walter is extremely creative, and his music is really layered. So we strive to take the performance to sort of match the complexity of the music by adding in different performance artists," explained Edrie. "So we've had everything from glass walkers to sword swallowers, to people who work with fire, belly dancers, to jugglers."

Recently, the band has been performing with a group called the Bunny Collaborative—which started after Edrie found a number of rabbit masks at a thrift store. Since then, the troupe has multiplied (as rabbits do), and will appear, thirty strong on New Year's Eve, led by director, Helena Prezio.

"For our specific performance, I know the bunnies have been hard at work creating individual vignettes for each of the songs based on the theme of the new year," said Edrie. "So I think it will be pretty interesting, because we're even surprised. Sometimes on stage I'm really distracted…how did they get 300 balloons in here?"

Walter Sickert and Edrie Edrie founded the Army of Broken Toys just over a year and a half ago. The band's magic, aside from the unique sound and unconventional performances, comes largely from its genesis.

"We were both in different bands, with partners, and they both split town together at the same time," explained Sickert. "So we were like, 'Hey! Let's write a record about it."

While the Army of Broken Toys started out as a duo, over time, they've "hobbled" a band together said Sickert, drawing from musicians they knew before hand, to those they had never met.

"When we started we were two people and now we're eight musicians, and depending on how many performance artists we have with us, it's been up to what—20?" he said.

Edrie said she thinks the band's roots, which translate strongly into the music, are part of the reason why their sound resonates with the audience.

"I think it really goes back to the roots of the band, where Walter and I were like, this terrible thing happened to us, we're not really sure how to deal with these emotions, let's just talk about it with each other and create music around those feelings, and people really register with that."

Aside from making music, Edrie is also a writer, and Walter, a visual artist. You may recognize his work from the Somerville Arts Council's Art Beat Poster from earlier in the year, which he designed and illustrated.

In just a year and a half, the Army of Broken Toys have traded heartbreak, for success with a Boston Music Award nomination and West Coast and European Tours under their garter belts.

"Since then we have done just really bizarre crazy things that we're very proud of and that's the thing we're going to do more and more stuff that's bizarre and off the wall and over the world, and we couldn't' be happier about it," said Sickert.

Join the group from 8 – 11 p.m. for "The Steam Crunk Lounge" at the Hynes Convention Center on New Year's Eve. Doors open at 7:30. The Army of Broken Toys is set to perform at 10 p.m.

About this column: About Town is a daily column about what's going on around the city. Contact with tips, story ideas, suggestions or events! - Somerville Patch

"Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys win New England Best of 2010 Poll!"

Fellow New Englanders,

After a seizure inducing 2 months of polling and voting and number churning and link pasting... HABEMUS POLL WINNER!

Congrats to our 2010 champions, the orchestral, rootsy punks Walter Sickert & the Amy of Broken Toys, who preceded classic rock heroes (and not exactly mellow) Mellow Bravo and alt rockers Sidewalk Driver. Here's a picture of that crazy army during a recent show... and here's the full list of our Best of New England 2010 Emerging Artists Poll: - The Deli New England

"Carnival Of Weird: A Guide To Boston’s Art Rock Scene"

Glitter. Stilts. A giant weather balloon. Venetian masks, bunny ears and ghosts. All of these made appearances at a recent show at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. It was a night featuring some of Boston’s most excitingly bizarre bands: Holiday Mountain, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling (releasing their second EP, Questions Are a Burden to Others), Mighty Tiny (releasing their first full-length album, White Dog Rough Again), and Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys.

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys (credit: Justin Moore/via band's Facebook page)
These four bands are among a growing sub-genre of rock where music is a dark and whimsical performance art, often incorporating elements of the circus, vaudeville, steampunk, and burlesque. From themed costumes and props to instrumentation well beyond the standard guitar-bass-drums, these bands are leading a carnival march against the mainstream, one accordion at a time.
And they’re not the only ones. Other bands making headway in this off-the-beaten-path form of rock include Jaggery, What Time Is It Mr. Fox?, Cirkestra, and Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band. All of these acts put on shows oozing with creativity, strangeness, and an energy more intense than any stadium rock show I’ve seen.
While these bands tend to gain strong cult followings within their niche, it seems like outsiders are scared to come in. I firmly believe that those who express doubts about the Boston music scene aren’t pushing themselves hard enough as audience members and explorers. Go forth, Bostonians, and seek out the weird! We need more bands like these. Let’s make it happen.

Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
This carnival-folk group also advanced to the ‘11 Rumble semi-finals, reinforcing the idea that Boston is ready for a little bit of craziness. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the musical genius in the Army of Toys’ complex arrangements: there’s just too much eye candy. From burlesque performers and a man on stilts in the audience to glitter and balloons being thrown from stage, distractions are all around. The music, though, is dark and lovely and loud – well worth tearing your eyes away from the elaborate (and often revealing) costumes to focus your ears for a bit. - CBS Boston

"Dark humor, raucous delights on soundtrack for dancing along abyss"

By now I should be deep in an obsession with the new album by The National, listening to it on iTunes’ endless repeat whenever it’s not on endless repeat in my head. This is how I consume music.

But something else came along and pushed it down the playlist: “SteamShipKillers,” by Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys. With this full-length album not yet available online, the first chance to buy is June 4 at a CD release party at Club 939 in Boston.

Seize it! The show launches a monthlong tour with Jaggery, simultaneous with Humanwine touring until August, and that leaves the area bereft of its most addictive, immersive performers.

“SteamShipKillers” can help fill that void. It already has a hold on me. It’s the Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys album I’ve been waiting for — the one that, painstakingly produced by Lainey SchoolTree, comes closest to the rush of seeing the band live.

An eponymous download-only album from 2006 holds 13 tracks from which the band has largely moved on. “28 Seeds: The Last Radio Show” is a conceptual piece done for the RPM Challenge in which story detracts from the kind of live-show steam that leaves you sopping and grateful. The “Casualty Menagerie” EP from 2008 is too mournful. Even though four of the songs reappear on the new album, they are mingled with the raucous, chill-inducing, heart-stopping tunes that make the band’s performances so vital — such as “A Friend in Goddamn,” “Cataclysm” and “Off With Her Head” — and pleasantly menacing, addictively jaunty genre pieces such as “No Room” and “Hole in the Boat.”

“Time — she is out of time. Fate — it was meant to be this way,” Sickert roars in “Cataclysm,” before pounding out “Planet Killer” and “Pale Horse” (or crooning the album’s closest thing to a love song: “Heroin Pig”).

“Hole in the Boat” is perhaps the album’s jauntiest tune, but this waltz’s lyrics offer the good cheer of a wake:

President Lincoln in a theater thinkin’
Now he can never go home
Harry Houdini, he died on Halloween, he
Can never go home
There’s a hole in the boat and now we can never go home
JFK and Jesus Christ,
Now they can never go home
The little girl from “Poltergeist,”
Now she can never go home
There’s a hole in the boat and now we can never go home
This is all dark fun, attudinally aligned with the morbid humor Oingo Boingo used to show and its appropriation of the grinning skeletons of Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. It also makes for great listening and, at 13 songs and 46 minutes, a pretty satisfying experience. The stuff that remains missing, including the band’s thrilling sing-along cover of the “Ghostbusters” theme, may appear on a live album in October, but it’s also possible going to shows is the only way to get that final kick (which is not an unpleasant prospect).

Sickert writes the songs, which are performed by a band that can grow to a dozen or more members, some playing instruments, some spilling off the stage in performance art pieces and burlesque routines.

Throughout “SteamShipKillers,” you get healthy dollops of his signature humor, which is mischievous but — this especially comes through at shows, but tracks such as the animal experimentation protest “Revenge of the Rats” help make it clear — promises doom to the forces of intolerance and violence against the innocent.

It’s this combination of wit and strength, aided by an imposing physical presence, adoption of eccentric and appealing steampunkery and fearlessly booming voice, that makes Sickert so seductive. He’s a shaman whose cult embraces dancing into the abyss, or at least strutting around the edge for a while.

And now he’s given us the soundtrack.

The National will have to wait … maybe until it’s too late. But what a way to go.

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys plays with Jaggery on June 4 at the Berklee College of Music’s Club 939, 939 Boylston St., Boston. Tickets are $10 in advance through TicketMaster or $12 at the door. For information, click here.
- Cambridge Day

"Bostonians of the Week: Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys"

Bostonist is introducing a new feature: Bostonian of the Week, in which we profile interesting figures seen around town. Know someone we should feature? Email tips at bostonist dot com.

Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys have been all over the place lately. They were our Photo of the Day last week, are now our Bostonians of the Week, will be playing the Cantab Lounge soon, and are coming out with a new CD in September. Whew! The dark, carnival-folk group has a gorgeous website, intricate period costumes, a much-maligned penchant for (near) nudity, and of course an army of broken, dirty toys. An aesthetic experience as much as a visual one, the Army (consisting of Walter and Edrie) answered our questions in true gothic form.

Was (is) Walter Sickert really Jack the Ripper? How afraid should we be?

Walter: I can neither confirm nor deny the allegations bestowed upon myself, however, I will say, I have an abundant fondness for lister knives, top hats, over coats, garter belts, and tea kettles with hearts in them.

Who does your website art?

Edrie: The website is the brainchild of Walter. It's the WIREFOREST represented in the ethereal online form. The talented designer, film maker and artist Peggy Nelson brought the WIREFOREST to (second)life on the screen.

The work on the site is a part of a larger collection entitled "Almanac of the WIREFOREST" which chronicles the mysteries of the wiretooth animals who reside in this sacred and scarred place. One of Walter's pieces will be auctioned off for charity at Rock & Art and you'll also be able to see Walter's art in the solid at Gulu-Gulu Café in Salem MA starting in October.

Where do you get your toys? Are they already broken, or must you break them yourselves?

Walter: We are gifted most of our toys by various people and animals. My cat Taxidermy routinely dumpster dives for us.

Edrie: At first everything was from Walter's or my childhood but over the last couple of years people have brought gifts for us. For instance, when we were on the West Coast supporting the Tiger Lillies we received an old clown with a too happy smile, a lap harp, a music box that played a French folk tune and a brother to our drummer the Cymbal Clapping Monkey.

What is your favorite thing about Boston?

Walter: The writers, musicians and artists we've met through music.

Edrie: It really feels like a community, all supportive in that squishy-heart way that could be totally cheesy if it weren't so lovely. We feel lucky to have so much support.

Walter: If it weren't for the people, the price of living here would completely make you want to kill yourself.

If you could not be in Boston, where would you go?

Edrie: At this point we've traveled so many places as a band it's pretty hard to pick. Amsterdam stands out--we had some of the best shows we've done there. We're going back in October to open for Amanda Palmer on her solo tour. Seattle was also fantastic and I'd live there in a heartbeat. There is also that appeal of living totally away from people. I grew up on a farm in the middle of North Dakota and Walter grew up on the sea.

Walter: I'm still holding out for my own lighthouse and pet giant squid.

More with the Army after the jump!

Who are your favorite musicians--in general, and locally?

Walter: Kurt Cobain, Vashti Bunyan, Tiger Lillies, Bjork, Zoe Keating, Radiohead, Johnny Cash, Portishead, locally there so many but a few of my favorite slick crooners include Jaggery, What Time is it Mr Fox?, Dreamchild, Goli, Flutter Effect, jojo the burlesque poetess, Reverend Bob and the Darkness…

Edrie: I pretty much like anyone who has the balls to play an accordion or any other instrument thought of as nerdy by Bratz dolls and homophobes. I grew up right next to the Lawrence Welk homestead and learned to play accordion in a hayloft just like he did. I'm not sure our cows fully appreciated my polkas.

Why do you threaten the innocence/innocents of Boston with your nudity?

Edrie: Now listen all of you purportedly innocent bunnies. Hemlines have been above the ankles since the 1820s and darn it I wear more clothes during a show then 90% of 13 year olds wear to school on a regular basis. The men of Lowell may disagree, but seriously, a corset and frilly knickers is not exactly nude.

I'm always getting pushed around for my panties. We played a down town night club raising money for Autism. I will not name the club here but, at the past tense of feel, the manager came over and asked me to put on my skirt because there were 16 year olds there having a birthday party dinner. It was after our set and I refused very politely and we were not so politely asked to leave but before that each and every girl came and took her picture with us and bought a CD. My knickers raised a boatload of dough for charity!

Where can we catch you(r music) next? Any plans for public/outdoor performances?

Edrie: I'm taking most of August - The Bostonist

"Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys take Night 2 of the Rumble; Night 3 preliminaries tonight"

Last night, our own Jonathan Perry called it again -- sort of -- as his dark horse selection, Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, took Night 2 of the Rock & Roll Rumble at T.T. the Bear's. Videos are starting to surface of the magic (warning: explicit top hat w/feather content), but it's safe to say you'll want to catch the Army all up-close-and-personal-like in the semis (April 14 and 15 at T.T.'s).

And there's still plenty of time to polish up your proverbial brass knuckles and practice your sneer in the mirror before tonight's Rumble kicks off. Tonight's contenders include the rootsy gusto of the Autumn Hollow Band (9:00 p.m.), the rawk snarl of Cult 45 (9:45 p.m.), the "rock, disco, soul, pop fuzion entertainment unit" known as the Jon Powhida International Airport (10:30 p.m.) and the spirited smile-cracking pop of Spirit Kid (11:15 p.m.) After the jump, enjoy a little helping of each. - The Boston Globe

"H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E.; Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys; Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling, and Sarah RabDAU at the Church of Boston – February 17, 2010"

A most unusual and extraordinary evening of carnival, cabaret and social commentary, the perfect musical accompaniment to the controlled chaos that so often transpires inside my brain. Imagine a lifetime of scream-therapy; Cirque de Soleil, a tawdry Parisian brothel, and the Victorian Era; Dead Can Dance, an apocalyptic Hans Christian Anderson, and Democracy Now, stuffed into a dimly-lit hat box, and you’ll maybe come close to my experience seeing Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling; Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys; and H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E. at the Church of Boston Saturday night…

Sarah RabDAU & Self-Employed Assassins

photo by Whitney Wotkyns

It was with profound regret that I missed Sarah RabDAU’s set, as judging from her gorgeous vocals and lovely piano playing – and Matt Graber’s tasteful drum flourishes, it must have been quite beautiful. You can listen to her music on her official site, and there are links to purchase her self-titled debut album.

Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling

I arrived to Sophia Cacciola and Michael Epstein (The Motion Sick) of Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling exorcising demons in the most satisfying way imaginable. With her driving, pulverizing percussion and ‘hell hath no fury’ vocals, Sophia whips it up into a cathartic frenzy, and Mike adds an anxiously thumping heartbeat. I especially liked “Episode 9: A.B.and C.” (which will be on their forthcoming CD), the mesmerizing “Checkmate” (”Don’t follow me, don’t follow me, stay with me, walk with me…”), and a searing, pulverizing cover of Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan”. They’ll be having a release party for their debut EP The New Number 2 on April 3 at Church.

Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys

My fascination for Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys began before they started playing. The 15 or so people who make up this bizarre gypsy caravan take to the stage and make their final preparations… a stand-up bass and classy-looking jazzman and his clarinet, two vaudevillian ladies on violas, someone in a bowtie and moustache with a guitar, dancing girls and a human marionette with her puppetmaster, the Victorian matriarch Edrie with her accordion and massive… presence. And Walter Sickert himself – on piano, guitar and vocals – presiding over the bawdy festivities like a bluesy shaman.

They begin with a song that includes the line “this is how we end ourselves” – incredibly gorgeous, with the violins in a delightful minimalist pizzicato accompaniment. It’s a startling beginning for such a complex and varied group, and incredibly effective. From this serene start, all hell breaks loose in delicious ways. Musically sophisticated and immensely talented, wildly unusual and diverse in material and presentation, a Dada-esque circus carnival run amuck, and just plain good ‘not-always-so-clean’ fun. A heartfelt rant in support of gay marriage was followed with a wonderfully subversive and crazy few bars of “Love and Marriage”. There was an insane cover of “Ghostbusters”. Edrie came to the front to instruct us all in our role as chorus for “Off With Her Head!” (which has to be experienced to be believed). A dramatic, churning maelstrom and vast musical ocean whose waves come crashing down, leaving one simply stunned.

They ended their (again, way too short) set with a truly astonishing version of “I Put A Spell On You”. A surreal experience that cannot be missed.

You can order a physical copy of their 2009 CD Casualty Menagerie (which includes a video for “Sacrilege”) from CD Baby or download it w/o the video from iTunes (where you can also get their 2007 self-titled release). They’ll have a new album out in Spring or early Summer. For now, you can download new tracks from Bandcamp and check out their official site.


Holly Brewer of H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E.

I was already knocked out once by H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E., at their recent performance at Cafe 939, so I’ll just say a few words. Gothic cabaret with a social conscience. Holly’s voice floats and soars, bites and taunts, questions and informs. She doesn’t just sing a song, she theatrically performs it, and is quite mesmerizing to watch. Visually, she conjures images of ancient storytellers telling their tales around a raging bonfire, long ago in distant lands.

Holly's traditional comic book recycling.

Their next show is at Somerville’s Center for the Arts At The Armory on March 6, and they’ll be doing a Tuesday residency in March at The Lizard Lounge. Definitely see them if you can.

Holly with their friend Joe on guitar.

- The Boston Survival Guide

"The Phoenix Best 2012: Best Artist: Walter Sickert"

In the tradition of Cobain, Reed, and Cervenka, Walter Sickert declines to banish his phantasmagraphy to the sonicsphere. 'Tis a boon, as this marks the second consecutive year Phoenix readers picked him as best artist. Better-known as general of the apocalyptic-folk outfit Army of Broken Toys, Sickert amalgamates impressions of pop culture, politics, magick, and his musician buddies into surrealist "InkDrips." Our faves include a melding of Gotham's caped crusader and Roald Dahl's eminent creation titled "Batman and the Chocolate Factory," and "Happy Good Time Rabbit," upon whose adorably pinchable stomach it is decreed, "You're Gonna Die. - The Boston Phoenix

"Out: Walter Sickert and friends invade Brighton Music Hall"

While smoking behind Brighton Music Hall, I eavesdropped on one of the other cool nicotine-addicted kids as he asked his buddy, "Can you tell me what the fuck I just saw?"
This was before Walter Sickert and his dread pirate crew of Broken Toys arrived, in their ongoing quest to turn reality inside out. Throughout the evening, revelers masquerading as Westboro Baptists picketed with slogans like "God Hates Figs" and "Go Home Xenomorph." Because they do not enjoy being protested, Sickert and Co. entranced the fun police via the hypnotic power of dirgey apocalypse-folk. Psychically feeble as Jesus freaks tend to be, the demonstrators immediately tore most of their clothes off and commenced to boogie.

As for what the smoker couldn't figure out, it had something to do with an astral battle of wills between a scantily clad sorceress named Mary Widow and her unlikely twin brother, a blue-skinned intergalactic goblin warrior named Locrius, who also sings and plays the bass. Having cut out some poor bastard's still-beating heart in front of the piss-terrified capacity crowd, the blood-spattered Widow made no secret of her plans to murder everyone at BMH — especially Sickert. Originally, Locrius was all about the scheduled slaughter, until he remembered his interstellar transport vehicle requires human souls as fuel, and dead things don't have souls.

So, Locrius turned on his sinister sibling. Deploying his esoteric knowledge of Widow's weaknesses, he repeatedly shouted the two magic words he knew to be the Widow's kryptonite — "Helter" and "Skelter." In a counter-intuitive disregard for her own safety, Widow belted out the verses to the Beatles' classic with aplomb. Soon, both adversaries lay unconscious in a heap.

That, among other things, was what the guy smoking outside saw on Friday. Sickert's Toys, the cosmic rock of Locrius' Planetoid, the power poppin' Sidewalk Driver, Black Thai's immaculate prog-metal, and a cavalcade of burlesque hoofers staged one of the weirdest rock shows in memory.

Read more: - The Boston Phoenix

"Walter Sickert leads a band of musical misfits"

When Walter Sickert and his Army of Broken Toys played an official First Night show at the Hynes Auditorium on New Year's Eve, they ran overtime and the soundman pulled the plug — which isn't quite the smartest way of shutting down an acoustic band. Especially one with two dozen singers, dancers, burlesque queens, and Lord knows what else in the line-up. And especially a band who're dead set on getting through the killer cover of "Ghostbusters" that they learned for the occasion.

"We were already two songs behind timewise when we went into our tasteful rendition of 'Ghostbusters,' which we went back to the 1880s to write," recalls Jojo Lazar, the group's uke player and resident poetess. "So we jumped into the crowd and finished it with their help, and from that point, there were no lines between us and them. That's the goal in our eyes, to make the audience part of the band. It was our shining Sex Pistols moment."

The Army of Toys didn't get run out of town the way the Pistols did — they've already been invited back for next year, their third First Night in a row. Still, this wasn't your usual family entertainment, given the motley crew on stage. Ringleaders Sickert and co-singer/accordionist Edrie come across like a pirate and an exotic marionette, respectively, and the music, hinged to Sickert's remarkably grizzled voice, draws from the bloodthirsty side of folk and cabaret.

At their Somerville headquarters last week, Sickert and crew were busy laying out plans for next Thursday's show at T.T. the Bear's. This typically involves a few levels of prep. Stage director Helena Prezio has already scoped out the place for ideas, and she's about to call in the "bunnies" — the 20-odd performers who augment the group on stage; they'll be instructed to listen to the set list and come up with something visually fitting. Guitarist Meff, who writes plays in her non-rock life, contributes conceptual bits. And Sickert is always ready with songs that have characters and storylines. "I think we present a healthy dose of everyone celebrating everyone, so nobody gets creeped out," says Lazar. "It's perversion with a smile."

It's been just two years since the group came together under sad but fitting circumstances: Sickert and Edrie were casual friends (she'd produced shows by his previous band) who got the news that their spouses had skipped town with each other. It was the perfect excuse to work as a duo and write self-pitying acoustic songs — which for a short time they did. (Hence the "broken toys" concept, which alludes both to their romantic hurt and to the misfit-toys sequence in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.) "You write the best songs when you're in the most pain, and it worked for me," says Sickert. "Most of us came into this band broken." Adds Edrie: "And that unpredictable serendipitous event wound up bringing us together."

Read more: - The Boston Phoenix

"Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys: Steam Ship Killers"

Fortunately for me, Walter Sickert and friends unveiled this record in 2010 instead of 1996, when it would've terrified me into a coma. When I was 12, "Man That You Fear" by Marilyn Manson struck me as the most evil thing ever, and I considered my mother wise to forbid me to hear such wickedness.

Although most of the similarities between Sickert and Manson have nothing to do with music, my mom wouldn't approve of either, and my automatic reaction to Steam Ship recalls my pre-teen reaction to that particular Manson song. Sickert and the Toys broadcast the sound of hapless, doe-eyed innocence gazing into the abyss — which counterintuitively makes for highly enjoyable listening.

The sheer magnitude of Sickert and company's apocalypse folk appears to have mushroomed in proportion to their roster — formerly comprising just Sickert and Edrie Edrie, now something akin to a 15-player circus of doom. Sickert's ghostly howl puts an exclamation point on creeping, classical, string-heavy waltzes such as "Cataclysm" and "Sea Song (Mare Carmen)." Meanwhile, "Heroin Pig" may well be the most charming ballad of all time to include the words "heroin" and "pig" in the title.

Read more: - The Boston Phoenix

"Rumble Update: Walter Sickert wins Night #2"

The Rock ‘n’ Roll continued last night at TT the Bear’s Place with performances from A Wish For Fire, Tijuana Sweetheart and Full Body Anchor. In the end, however, it was Walter Sickert & the Army Of Broken Toys who rocked their way into the semifinal round by winning the second preliminary night.

Led by Walter Sicker (vocals, piano, guitar), The Army of Broken Toys includes Edrie (vocals, accordion, xylophone,), Rachel Jayson (viola, violin, cello), Kevin Corzett (clarinet, saxophone), JoJo the Burlesque Poetess (MC, Poet, Uke), Terrorence TJ Horn (drums), Meff (guitar, mandolin) and Mike Leggio (standup bass). The band earned a nomination for Live Artist of the Year at last year’s Boston Music Awards.

The Rumble will continue tonight with performances from Spirit Kid, John Powhida International Airport, Cult 45, The Autumn Hollow Band. Tickets are $9 and the show starts at 9 p.m.

The competition will break on Wednesday and then continue on Thursday through Saturday for the rest of preliminary round. Winners from each of the nights, along with two Wild Card selections, will move on to the semifinal rounds on April 14 and 15. Along with Walter Sickert & the Army Of Broken Toys, Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents (winners of Night #1) have also booked their spot in the semifinals. The finals will take place Friday, April 22. - Boston Music Spotlight

"Walter Sickert wins night two of the Rock 'n' Roll Rumble"

Walter Sickert wins night two of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble
There is safety in numbers. And Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys numbers nearly a dozen — the band is the Parliament-Funkadelic of baroque/cabaret/punk/folk/toy-based rock. And that is meant as high, high praise.

Sickert is second band to advance at the Rumble — Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents won Sunday night. Hopefully Tijuana Sweetheart nabbed a wild card spot. The Rumble continues tonight at T.T. the Bear’s. Anyone got any favorites for tonight? - Boston Herald

"Walter Sickert the Madman of Sound"

Goth-folk group Walter Sickert the Army of Broken Toys is about performance art as much as it is music. The band led by music madman Walter Sickert blends experimental and industrial noises for a sound that's something like Nine Inch Nails, horror movie soundtracks, and two radio stations that have their frequencies crossed. (Boston Globe january-9th-2007) - Boston Globe

"Soul-crushing Heartbreak Never Sounded so Good"

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys assert their musical motif right from the opening crash and jangle of track one, “The Negative Heart Society.” On this track a tribal drum groove punctuates strangled breathing and an echo-effected throat-tearing vocal repeatedly accusing “You left my heart in pieces!” If the musical clang and boom fail to portend the proper dark angst of this debut CD, then the lyrics certainly leave no doubt — this is an angry record. Taken as a whole, the 13 track CD is epic poetry exploring the black pit of human despair.

Much like Nick Cave’s 1996 Murder Ballads, Walter Sickert has totally immersed himself in the motif. Cave’s obsession was murder from many points of view, explicitly defined and horrific despite it’s beautiful execution (pun intended). The obsession gripping Walter Sickert & partner Edrie (a broken toy) is heartbreak. In a real life example of misery seeking company, Walter and Edrie sought solace together when their spouses ran off with each other. Left cold, there seemed no better way to purge the demons than to do it together, in musical form. And they don’t hold back one iota of raw emotion. On “Bone Slag,” Walter howls “Which way is up, which way is down, You slit my throat when you’re around, You cut my heart, You took my name, You made yourself fucking bone slag.” He delivers the final punch with “Once a hooker, always a whore.” It’s noisy, it’s challenging, it’s raw and evocative, and I wouldn’t want to be the target of that fury. “Bone Slag” is a stand-out, as is “Sister Inhalation” with its repeating advice to “Shut off all the things inside.” At its strangest, the Army of Toys delivers a choked cacophony in “Hell Holds,” made all the more disturbing against a backdrop of spunky cabaret music; the overall effect brings to mind the inimitable HUMANWINE and is therefore no bad thing.

Like other artists who throw an unapologetic spotlight on the ugliest elements of human existence, Walter Sickert will probably find most people shunning this record and a small devoted audience who adore it. Anchored as it is by throbbing piano, dreamy synths and echoing vocals, the overall sound is cohesive. Yet it avoids sounding samey and achieves awesome dynamics by perfect use of unexpected bursts of twisted electronics, crackling samples and chunky acoustic guitars. On songs like “The Long Wait” and “Slit Wrist Family,” the sweet cooing of Edrie is the perfect haunting echo to Walter’s murdererous howl. Soul-crushing heartbreak never sounded so good. (Lexi Kahn) 2007 - Low Budget Super Hero

"Walter Sickert's Phantasmagorical Microcosm - Live Review"

Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA 2/15/07
Edvard Munch said, “Illness and madness and death were the black angels that stood by my cradle.” These same black angels inhabit Walter’s phantasmagorical microcosm. Wearing a black top hat festooned with feathers, he’s Svengali with a palette of colorations-samples, radio static, and experimental electronics. The ethereal Edrie kneels on the stage surrounded by a beautiful, bizarre menagerie of toys including antique dolls, a parrot, a child’s phonograph, a wind-up cymbal-slapping monkey, and a miniature piano. Edrie is an absinthe-imbibing Snow White as employed in a Parisian brothel circa 1883—jet black hair adorned with a cardinal, alabaster skin, ruby lips, wearing beaded red gloves and reinventing the word décolletage. Sickert’s vocals are maniacal; Edrie's are soothing. Is this Walter’s dream come to life? Is Edrie dreaming or frozen in Walter’s dream? Either way, their performance confounds the mind as much as it delights the senses. (Nancy Neon) 2007 - The Noise

"An Interview about Equipment"

Not One but TWO yes 2 lovely write ups in Gearwire by the talented and tuneful Patrick Ogle

Article # 1 - MicroKorg, Boss Dr. Sample 303, And A Priceless Alvarez Acoustic: A Chat With Walter Sickert And Edrie

Article #2 - Shure Beta 57A: Mic Technique For Oddball Instruments With Walter Sickert & The Army Of Broken Toys - Gearwire

"Army of Broken Toys a study in broken hearts"

Walter Sickert and Edrie Edrie were playing with broken glass the night before the Herald visited Edrie's Allston apartment.

"We put it in a bucket and stomped on it," she confessed, after serving a healthful snack of vegetables. "It made fun noises. We have some studio time tonight, so we were trying out different sounds to see what we liked."

There is a curious blend of mischief and morbidity in Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, as the duo of Sickert and Edrie are called. They garnish their ominous doom-folk with the theatricality of a demonic circus troupe. Past performances have included storytellers, fire-eaters, glass-eaters, contortionists and, of course, Edrie's broken toy army.

Though she can play real instruments, she opts for an arsenal of gizmos that includes child-sized pianos, drums, cymbal-playing monkeys and rubber squeeze toys. Army of Broken Toys is possibly the only band ever whose name can be taken literally.

"It's not like other people haven't played with toys before," Edrie said, "but our special blend of toys against the juxtaposition of what the songs are about, I think, brings a lightness to things that could be dark."

Primary songwriter and vocalist Sickert met Edrie five years ago, when he joined a Cambridge artist collective that Edrie helped operate. In the tradition of personal catastrophe begetting good music, they didn't truly bond until their significant others ran off with each other two years ago.

"Once Walter and I felt comfortable talking to each other (about the situation), he sent me a song he had written about it," Edrie recalled. "As I was listening to it in my car, I started to sing harmony to it. So I called him on my cell phone. I had to pull over, 'cause I was crying and I sang. That's sort of how the band formed.

"Instead of hunting people down and killing them, really brutally, with hammers and screwdrivers, we made a record," Sickert added. "That was a lot better for us."

No doubt. Music is always more constructive than murder, and that proved doubly true for Sickert and Edrie. Since the Army of Broken Toys' inception, they've delighted and alarmed audiences across the world. With the finishing touches being put on a new EP, their horizon looks downright sunny. Surely, this will result in cheerful, upbeat, Mickey Mouse Club-style Army of Broken Toys songs.

Or perhaps not.

"I think that when that happens, we've probably jumped the shark," Sickert said. "When we're happy all the time, and there are no issues or problems in our life, what are we going to write about? I should pay the audience $100 an hour."

"Thank you for the therapy," Edrie quipped. "Goodnight."


Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, with Martin Bisi, Black Fortress of Opium, What Time is It, and Mr. Fox, at the Middle East, Cambridge, Tuesday. Tickets: $8, 617-864-EAST.

Credit: By BARRY THOMPSON - Boston Herald

"Nine-Inch-Nails-does-Goth folk ride"

notes on new releases

Written by Jon Nolan

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Though you shouldn’t judge a book, or a CD, by its cover, the packaging on the eponymous release from the Allston, Mass., based Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys gives fair warning to those who would enter their musical world. A heavily mascara painted doll head stares out from the CD case. Its face is nearly obscured by a bunch of feathers, a rose, a brass key (glued to its forehead) and most noticeably, a squid. Yikes. Sickert’s maniacal vocals cut through the mayhem of “The Negative Hearts Society,” a song with an almost Middle Eastern or tribal rhythm. “You left my heart in pieces,” Sickert wails on the track. Even the dreamy ambient numbers like “Sacrilege” dip into more nightmarish territory as Sickert’s vocals, which are nearly always distorted, ebb and flow under the beauty. Ham radio static, reverb drenched piano, sinister synth line and Sickert’s sidekick Edrie’s creepy vocals make for a kind of Nine-Inch-Nails-does-Goth folk ride. - the Wire

"Music for anyone who has ever been broken"

Open Mic, October 19, 2006 ·
The band Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys formed, members Walter Sickert and Edrie say, from the "turmoil and loss" that came after their spouses took a road trip together and never returned. Both Sickert and Edrie have been active in the New England scene for several years, performing in various Electronic, Goth, Metal and Experimental bands. The track "Sacrilege," from the band's self-titled CD, features their haunting, sometimes eerie, combination of vocals, instrumentation and noise.

Comparing their music to the melodies of Rasputina with the performances of Marilyn Manson and the presence of Johnny Cash, Walter Sickert's shows can range from loud with theatrical visuals to stripped-down acoustic sets. Framing the "violent forests" of their songs around love, betrayal and heartbreak, the band says their music is for anyone who has ever been broken.

Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys are touring throughout Massachusetts and New York City. Their music has appeared on international and American radio as well as in independent films and on television. - NPR

"Musically sophisticated and immensely talented, wildly unusual and diverse in material and presentation, a Dada-esque circus carnival run amuck, and just plain good ‘not-always-so-clean’ fun"

My fascination for Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys began before they started playing. The 15 or so people who make up this bizarre gypsy caravan take to the stage and make their final preparations… a stand-up bass and classy-looking jazzman and his clarinet, two vaudevillian ladies on violas, someone in a bowtie and moustache with a guitar, dancing girls and a human marionette with her puppetmaster, the Victorian matriarch Edrie with her accordion and massive… presence. And Walter Sickert himself – on piano, guitar and vocals – presiding over the bawdy festivities like a bluesy shaman.

They begin with a song that includes the line “this is how we end ourselves” – incredibly gorgeous, with the violins in a delightful minimalist pizzicato accompaniment. It’s a startling beginning for such a complex and varied group, and incredibly effective. From this serene start, all hell breaks loose in delicious ways. Musically sophisticated and immensely talented, wildly unusual and diverse in material and presentation, a Dada-esque circus carnival run amuck, and just plain good ‘not-always-so-clean’ fun. A heartfelt rant in support of gay marriage was followed with a wonderfully subversive and crazy few bars of “Love and Marriage”. There was an insane cover of “Ghostbusters”. Edrie came to the front to instruct us all in our role as chorus for “Off With Her Head!” (which has to be experienced to be believed). A dramatic, churning maelstrom and vast musical ocean whose waves come crashing down, leaving one simply stunned.

They ended their (again, way too short) set with a truly astonishing version of “I Put A Spell On You”. A surreal experience that cannot be missed.
what <em>the hell</em> is she playing??

You can order a physical copy of their 2009 CD Casualty Menagerie (which includes a video for “Sacrilege”) from CD Baby or download it w/o the video from iTunes (where you can also get their 2007 self-titled release). They’ll have a new album out in Spring or early Summer. For now, you can download new tracks from Bandcamp and check out their official site. - Boston Survival Guide

"A lesson in Dark Folk via a Gypsy Squid from 20,000 Leagues under the bed"

The art work is great in the jacket to begin with, th doll face under the cd scared me a bit An overly dark record with plenty to consume, i won;t get tired of this album. quite a progression from the early optic rose idustrialness to a dark rock masterpiece. Lets go right down the line NHS: Dancing around the fire of Agony, Percusion driven song fabulous. Sacrilege: Wait till you see this one live, holy F Batman, Melodic story of grotesqueness, Mystical VOX and Distant Dreamlike sounds. Lows: Did someone say Johnny Cash? Nope just a WS Acoustic melody, of beautiful minor tunes, and Edrie's Fallen Angel voice sending us to where we wanna go. La Divorce: Circusey melody, angry Vox and a Tamborine to carry us through this song, makes you wanna sway. Bone Slag: Haunting piano, Waltz? perhaps? ooh what a good song this is. "Once a hooker, always a whore" Sister Inhalation: Itunes says its called Crash our ships...but what does Itunes know? Acoustic melodies and layered walter, nice southern rock solo at the end, great song overall, not to mention the great multi Vocal melody at the end. The Long wait: A personal favorite, first heard it from the 28 days inside the squid record( good luck finding because you can't) Haunting piano Normal vox with a strangeness underneath them, seems sad, @ 2:32 short build up with a great climax, listen to this one loud and all the lights off. No More Fires: Keys from an old movie about hell and layered vocal tracks with a controlled chaos perfectly executed, nice organ outro at the end. Coldwireforest: SOunds like an old tangerine dream record meets .....well walter sickert i guess great song per usual. Shiny & New - another acoustic offering, taking some chord progression influences from johnny cash, and making them a sickert melody worthy of listen after listen. great compressed screaming at the end. Legs like snakes : a great song with a Burlesque melody and fun pitch shifting at the end. Slit Wrist Family: Haunting as usual, acoustic, great song. Hell Holds: great up beat melody to end the record. Its hard to talk about the hightlights of the LP when the whole album is its own Highlight, go see these guys play live if you get a chance... this is some of the best stuff in the area right now and should not be missed. - Redleaves

"Brilliantly woven tapestry of madness music and lyrics."

This album is brilliantly woven tapestry of madness music and lyrics. Each track stands on its own, complete masterful and placed end to end they form something even more extraordinary. All I can say is sit down and listen. - Marque de Wilde Review

"Holy damn, this is so good"

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys
13-song CD
Holy damn, this is so good. This album confirms my belief that life can be hell. Feeling like Dante on a tour of the musical underworld, I was entranced by its dirge-like quality, Trent Reznor-inflected distortion vocals, and messages of pure human anguish, failure, despair, hate, death and humiliation. What level I was on I did quite not know… but as I ventured through the murky depth, my fears were only assuaged by more demonic, clattered wailing, horrific splendor tasted through my mute but undiscernibly open eardrums. Ghouls! Wraiths! The plight of all pain, of all broken dreams laid with the digital confines of the disc, showing me the squalor and pure magic that is this earthly life. After retreating in a way I cannot remember, I said to myself: if Jim Morrison is walking the afterworld, he surely must audition for this band. And I shall be the one to tell him to! (Mike Loce) - The Noise - Boston

"Album Preview: Walter Sickert & The Army Of Broken Toys’ Sinister ‘Come Black Magic’"

Walter Sickert and Sarah Edrie (who goes simply by the moniker Edrie) live in a charmingly ramshackle house in Dorchester that looks as if it was decorated with acquisitions from Tim Burton’s garage sale. On a recent Thursday evening, Edrie puttered around the kitchen while Sickert fed the couple’s 18-month-old daughter, Wednesday. The dog was safely packed away upstairs and the house was quiet, as though mentally preparing for what would soon descend: a rehearsal with the pair’s sprawling horror-rock band Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys.

The group was only a few weeks out from its album release show at the Sinclair in Cambridge on Sept. 9 and the anticipation was starting to build. Not long ago Edrie had posted a heartfelt message on Facebook imploring people to buy tickets. “You are our art family and we need you!” she wrote, signing it, as she does all messages from the band, “Love & Tentacles” — a playful reference to the squid-like appearance of Sickert’s long mess of dreadlocks. Though the Toys have built a vibrant local reputation, they still operate independently of any label. "It's very rare to get the opportunity to play at a corporate thing like the Sinclair on a Friday night as a local band with an all-local bill,” Edrie said.

For Edrie, Sickert and the rest of the band, making art is as much a community effort as a personal one. Edrie in particular lives much of her creative life on social media, talking about her work on the board of the Boston Arts Council and promoting the band’s various endeavors — albums and shows as well as ambitious theater projects like 2015’s collaboration with Company One Theatre on a production of the 1998 musical “Shockheaded Peter” — but also writing openly about the challenges of making a living as artists and parents. “Will we miss a career opportunity because we post too many baby pix,” she wondered on Facebook, adding, parenthetically, “I’ve already had a theater company mention that being a parent might be too hard for them to work around.”

The result is a band that, though it started years ago as a duo and would certainly be more affordable that way, has swelled to include eight regular members. The group’s new album, “Come Black Magic,” features contributions from musicians with Berklee degrees along with performers who have no formal training at all, friends who were pulled into the Toys’ madcap milieu by the friendly-yet-sinister tentacles of Sickert’s outsize charisma. (The current lineup consists of Sickert on lead vocals, guitar and piano, Edrie on accordion and toys, Rachel Jayson on viola, Matt Zappa on drums, Mike Leggio on bass, jojo Lazar on ukulele and flute, Mary Widow on mandolin and vocals and Brother Bones on guitar.) “We're really a family more than a band at this point,” Sickert says.

Widow was drafted back in 2015 to replace Edrie in “Shockheaded Peter” after Edrie and Sickert found out that Wednesday — also known as the Squid Kid — was due on opening night. The baby arrived the day before tech rehearsal and quickly became a common sight at concerts around town, a tiny and surprisingly serene presence in giant noise-protective earmuffs.

If literally having a baby while working on a musical that you spent about as much time gestating as your own offspring sounds crazy, such seemingly impossible projects have become something of a trademark for Edrie, Sickert and their musical army. “We, about four times a year, make lists of cool things we want to do, and tack it up on a board,” Edrie says.

Every February since 2007, the band has participated in the RPM Podcast’s “RPM Challenge” — an open call for artists to write and record an entire album in one month. The band has made ten albums this way, in addition to four in the studio and three others at home. Currently, they are planning to film a series of music videos, one for each song on “Come Black Magic,” all linked by a single narrative. Edrie says the project is typical in its daunting complexity. “So sure, make a video for every song,” she says. “But don't just make a video for every song, make a video that's interconnected, that requires crazy camera work, that we are renting a drone for.”

The push toward ever-greater artistic feats stems from Sickert’s particular — and peculiar — vision. He makes part of his living as an illustrator (he has designed all of the Toys’ album artwork), and his style is as much visual as musical. The members of Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys are fond of wigs and corsets and the color black. Their music sounds like a goth descendant of Led Zeppelin — pummeling, blues-inflected and theatrical, enamored of minor keys and stories involving child murder.

“The thought and the painting in my mind of what I want, ultimately, the music to sound like, and the arrangements to sound like, doesn't ever mold itself, maybe, to being practical,” Sickert says. “And I have to kind of chase that dragon as much as I can to match the sound or the vision that's in my head.”

Edrie puts it another way. “Walter is Falkor,” she says, referring to the giant flying dog-monster from the 1984 film “The NeverEnding Story.” “And the rest of the band rides on him and tries to steer him. Like, ‘OK, Falkor, now this way’ — and sometimes we can get him to go that way and sometimes it's like, ‘Whoa, impossible, everything’s too big.’ So if you think what is onstage or what is in the CD is big and crazy, it's like a tiny, tiny, tiny little bit of what Walter's huge vision is."

In trying to locate the source of his aesthetic, Sickert points to horror movies of the ‘70s and ‘80s, along with an especially formative period in his youth when, after his family’s houseboat burned down, he enrolled in Catholic school in Massachusetts. The experience — Sickert’s first brush with organized religion after being homeschooled on a modified tugboat for part of his childhood — intensified a nascent fascination with the macabre. "Going to Catholic school and being taught about Hell and all those things that are naughty and wrong — that kind of painted a picture of what I saw as what evil actually was,” Sickert says. “And all that was mixed up with these horror movies that I would stay up too late and watch as a kid.”

Sickert says that “Come Black Magic” is the closest the band has ever come to realizing the music that he hears in his head. This achievement is thanks in no small way to Edrie’s producer-like role. “We work really well together when we make art,” Sickert says. “I can be like, ‘Here's this crazy jungle of ideas,’ and she's like, ‘I like this, but let me show you how you can actually make this happen.’ And without that balance I would just be alone in a barn in the middle of the woods, just making music and art for myself that would never be seen by or heard by anybody else.”

Instead, the life that Sickert and Edrie have created is one in which the artistic and domestic spheres comingle. Sickert takes care of Wednesday, writes music, scores films and makes art from home while Edrie works a day job and handles publicity for the band. Friends babysit the Squid Kid when her parents are onstage. On Thursdays, Edrie and Sickert host band practice at their house, but not before feeding everyone dinner.

This particular Thursday is no different. Seven o’clock rolls around and the pasta water that Edrie put on earlier begins to boil. People start trickling in. Soon, the house will be filled with exuberantly menacing music — for little Wednesday, and everyone else in her extended art family, probably the most comforting sound in the world. - Amelia Mason Music Reporter/Critic, The ARTery

"Walter Sickert and Sarah Edrie (who goes simply by the moniker Edrie) live in a charmingly ramshackle house in Dorchester that looks as if it was decorated with acquisitions from Tim Burton’s garage sale. On a recent Thursday evening, Edrie puttered aroun"

For the past several years, Boston steamcrunk crew Walter Sickert & The Army Of Broken Toys have soundtracked all the things that go bump in the night — and all that shift around uneven spaces come morning. This week, the carnival-pop collective of musical misfits and merry revelers once again extend their sonic tentacles towards our furry earholes with the release of third studio album Come Black Magic, a properly crowd-funded LP that breathes its first taste of nighttime air this Friday at the Sinclair in Cambridge.

The new album, also out Friday, is a culmination of all the things frontman and ringleader Sickert has stored away in the far reaches of his mind since he was a small child. Through his own personal filter, many of the ideas, people, and other creatures that have emerged on Come Black Magic are slightly tweaked versions of the ideas, people, and other creatures that first took up residence. And radio is the organic conduit.

“When I was a kid living on a boat, I’d sleep with my pirate radio next to my bunk,” Sickert tells Vanyaland. “I used to have night terrors and I’d wake up and grab my radio and try to tune in any station that would come in out in the middle of the ocean. Some nights I would hear music so beautiful, so moving that it filled me with an uncontrollable euphoria and longing. I would fall back to sleep knowing I wanted to make music for the rest of my life. Come Black Magic is my answer to the night terrors I had as a kid.”

From the indie rock grandeur and punk-cabaret fury of “The Legend Of Squid And Moon” to a bug-eyed, crashing rendition of Bjork’s “Army of Me”, Come Black Magic is a winding highway of a record that amplifies one’s own chaotic dreamland and all the dark corners of your mind that only speak up once the lights are out, and the music-as-remedy concoction whipped up to stave off the evils that ride freely through the mind’s dark underbelly.

“[Come Black Magic] is filled with old VHS cassette creatures, the dead rats in my grandmother’s basement, the shoes by the woodpile filled with a man who shouldn’t be there, the confiscated tape players in the nun’s desk drawer, it’s the answer to those kids on the playground who laugh at your too curly hair and too long legs,” Sickert adds. “Listen, in the dark, with your headphones, on when you want to conjure monsters and mayhem.” - MICHAEL MAROTTA- Vanyaland


See our BANDCAMP for the most recent info!

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "RUINED YOUR CHILDHOOD" 2014

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Soft Time Traveler" 2013

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "28 Seeds (The Sound Track) 2012

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "DEAR MOON" 2012

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Soldiers Came" 2011 - single created for IFC's Young Broke and Beautiful (the band was featured in the episode - search for the episode on iTunes!)

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "DREAM DROME" February 2010

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Live at the Middle East"  Live recording October 2010

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys SteamShipKillers studio Album - June 2010

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "28 Seeds: the Last Radio Show" Feb 2010 - for RPM Challenge

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Sepiachord Field Guide" Heroin Pig single released for SteamCon 2009

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Casualty Menagerie" EP Sept 2008

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys "In Memoriam"  2007 (5 limited edition EPs)

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Almanac of The Wireforest (double disc) - 2007

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - self titled - 2006 (receiving extensive radio play nation wide)

Optic Rose - 28 days inside the squid (double disc) - 2006

Optic Rose - Whitechapel - 2005

Optic Rose - Self Titled CD - 2003


(all music written & recorded by Walter Sickert)



Walter Sickert - MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR- 2016 & 2017 - Boston Music Awards

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys- LIVE ACT OF THE YEAR - 2013, 2016 & 2017 - Boston Music Awards

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys- LIVE ACT OF THE YEAR - 2017 New England Music Awards

Walter Sickert- Nominated- Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actor, Shockheaded Peter (Company One, co-presented by Suffolk University) -Elliot Norton Awards-2015

Walter Sickert - WINNER Boston's Best Artist 2011 and 2012 - Boston Phoenix Reader's Poll

Rock - n - Roll Rumble Semi-Finalist

WINNER Deli Magazine BEST OF

"Musically sophisticated and immensely talented, wildly unusual and diverse in material and presentation, a Dada-esque circus carnival run amuck, and just plain good not-always-so-clean fun." Boston Survival Guide

Where's Your Ghost -

Pornival -

"There is a curious blend of mischief and morbidity in Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, as the duo of Sickert and Edrie are called. They garnish their ominous doom-folk with the theatricality of a demonic circus troupe. Past performances have included storytellers, fire-eaters, glass-eaters, contortionists and, of course, Edrie's broken toy army." Boston Herald

"Holy Damn this is so good...if Jim Morrison is walking the afterworld, he surely must audition for this band. And I shall be the one to tell him to!" The Noise

Somewhere between hell and your own bedroom, Walter Sickert and Edrie let you know how it feels to be broken. Bostons Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys offer their broken toy wisdom with the help of the WIRETOOTH animals and their Broken Toy Army of 9-15 artists, who roll in with their burlesque dancers, leers and winks and Hieronymus Bosch tableaus of living mannequins and props and while they play you accept decay, laugh at sex and revel in life. When they roll out again you feel empty. Dark, witty and hard hitting, they will confound the mind while amazing the senses with their new CD, 'Come Black Magic', will be releases in the Fall of 2016. A tour, kicking off at The Steampunks World Faire, will begin in May 2016!!!

The band formed when principals Walter Sickert and Edrie dealt with the turmoil and loss that came after their spouses took a road trip together and never returned. Framing the forests of their songs around love, betrayal and heartbreak, the band says their music is for anyone who has ever been broken.

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys have been making as much noise nationally as they do locally. With a steady foundation of coverage by Boston press including The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, the Noise and The Phoenix; the Army of Toys has also been featured nationally on NPRs Here and Now, All Songs Considered and on MuchMusic. The band was honored to be featured at NXNE music Conference in Toronto, Canada where they also won Best International Song for the track Pale Horse by Toronto Magazine. In addition, Walter has been featured for the last five years as a part of the RPM challenge sponsored by New Hampshires The Wire.

The rollicking, raunchy sideshow of jolly, wheezing menace and delight live experience of Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys have taken the band across the US and beyond, playing such revered venues as the Hynes Convention Center for First Night, Symphony Hall in Boston, 930 Club in DC, Webster Hall in NYC, Royce Hall in LA, NXNE in Toronto, the Stone Pony in NJ, and the Melkweg in Amsterdam etc. Their live antics have earned them a headlining spot at Steampunk Worlds Faire 2010, 2016, and opening spots alongside international contemporaries the Tiger Lillies, Amanda Palmer, The Dead Milkmen at several venues. The band has also taken the experience of their live shows online, with a redesigned and highly interactive Website known as the WIREFOREST. With this new album and tour plans in the US and Europe, there is so much more to come from the WIREFOREST,  the wiretooth animals are hungry!

Band Members