Tomas Kalnoky Speaks: Streetlight Manifesto Frontman Talks Radio City Show & New Music In First Interview In 10 Years

The Jersey-bred ska-punk band’s folksy alter ego, Bandits Of the Acoustic Revolution, is about to headline the storied New York City venue

“I think Streetlight Manifesto is one of the biggest small bands, or one of the smallest big bands.”

Tomas Kalnoky hasn’t talked to the press in a decade, or much publicly at all for that matter. Maybe if he wasn’t so meticulously private and the band released albums more frequently than once every half-decade, their size and scope wouldn’t be so hard to pin down. What’s much less ambiguous is that Streetlight Mainfesto just plain matters.

Without a studio release since 2013’s The Hands That Thieve, the brass-inflected seven-piece has been able to take its panoramic ska-punk on big theater tours and play to a couple thousand fans per night, while diehards pore over every bread crumb towards long-rumored new music. There’s good reason to: Hands is such a thunderous call-to-arms of an album, you could make a good case for it as Kalnoky’s most memorable since 1998’s Keasbey Nights, his first band Catch 22’s debut and a sealed-in-time classic within the genre. Even less ambiguous? Kalnoky will very soon be leading a band that’s literally very big.

Bandits Of the Acoustic Revolution, the enigmatic folk-punk collective he founded in 2001, will play New York’s Radio City Music Hall on Saturday (May 4), backed by a 45-piece orchestra. Bandits released only one recorded project — 2001’s A Call To Arms EP — then lied relatively dormant until last year, when they reconvened to play New York’s Beacon Theatre and Los Angeles’ Orpheum Theatre. Keep in mind Streetlight hadn’t released anything since 2013, so while the diehards pined for a new album from Kalnoky’s much more famous band, the singer-guitarist hit them with an insurmountably ambitious live project from a group with only five recorded songs to its name.

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