by Britt Chester | @awfullybrittish

“It’s the retelling of Christmas,” said Danny Tokyo, bassist for Winston-Salem’s PRIMOVAN- HALEN. “It’s your favorite Christmas tunes with a twist. It’s what Trans Siberian Orchestra would sound like if they weren’t a bunch of pussies.”

For music enthusiasts who also happen to be fans of the holidays, the sounds of Trans Siberian Orchestra are on constant rotation between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, perhaps longer if you can handle shredding guitar solos of Handel’s “Messiah.” But if rock ‘n’ roll and absurdist comedy fill your cup better than eggnog and laser light shows, then one must look to the underground to quench that thirst.

When guitarist Adam Kelly and Tokyo, two members of PRIMOVANHALEN, were rejected by TSO, they decided to throw a wrench into the status quo of holiday music.

“Adam and I have auditioned for the last five years in a row,” Tokyo said. “They haven’t let us in at all “” haven’t even returned our phone calls. They have auditions every year because they need shredders every year.” Although laughing, Kelly seems to be quite serious about trying out for the holiday rock show. “We decided to do our own thing.”

Alongside fellow PRIMOVANHALEN member Anthony Petrovic, the band decided to create its own Christmas musical:

Trans Siberian Dorkestra was born.

If it sounds at all absurd, it’s because it’s meant to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s not serious and that all parties involved aren’t preparing accordingly with set designing, props and costumes.

Mrs. X, or the woman who preferred to be named as such, briefly joined the interview before adjourning inside Krankies where the crew was about to have a meeting regarding set design and props. Mrs. X is in charge of these ancillary devices.

A lot of time has actually gone into the Monty Python-esque play. Inside the walls of Krankies Coffee, PRIMOVANHALEN will perform their rendition of the story of Christmas with the help of more than twodozen friends and friends of friends.

“(TSO) rejected us several times. We said fuck ’em, let’s do our own thing, and for charity, because aren’t a bunch of scumbags like TSO,” Tokyo added.

Trans Siberian Dorkestra is an attempt to retell the traditional Christmas story, but through the eyes of PRIMOVANHALEN.

“It is loosely based on the story of Christmas,” Petrovic said.

The story of Christmas as we know it? “The story of Christmas as we don’t know it,” he adds. “It’s written by three non-Christians with no Christian upbringing. It’s our understanding based on what society has taught us,” Tokyo chimed.

The story of Christmas as we know it, the one where baby Jesus was born in a manger with three wise men bringing gifts, the Virgin Mary sitting with Joseph, the North star et al, is widely known. But what can three musicians bring to the Christmas table?

Without giving too much away, Tokyo promised that it will be a two-part play, complete with an intermission, and Petrovic also said there will be punch and cookies. At Krankies, though, punch and cookies could be interpreted as beer and crackers, which should be perfect for the crowd watching TSD.

“Well, in our rehearsal last night, I would phrase it as ‘herding cats,'” Petrovic said. “(Rehearsals) are good way to try and pull everything together, but then it dawned on me that half of the people are in some way at least educated in the arts of making a play, production, writing”¦ and it’s still insane.”

Petrovic culled his group of friends to build the team, but didn’t want to stress anyone out. “It’s a large cast of people, really whoever we could get in at the moment. Personally, I’m like, if you can do this it would be awesome, but don’t stress,” he said.

Other local musicians that are set to perform include Carlos Bocanegra, Blake Tesh, Marty Rogers and Liz Simmons, all Winston-Salem musicians. Other musical contributions are from Greensboro’s Three Brained Robot.

Although rehearsals might seem like herding cats, some of the crew took a field trip recently to a rehearsal of UNCSA’s production of The Nutcracker at the Stevens Center.

“That was a field trip for inspiration,” Petrovic said, “but everything about that story is about this creepy dude that drugs a little girl.”

“We were trying to get TSD at the Stevens Center, but, you know, the Nutcracker is going on,” Kelly interrupted.

The ridiculousness of the interview falls right in line with what to expect from the show, though PRIMOVANHALEN and all parties involved are actually serious musicians in the Triad who are seasoned veterans of local stages.

“It’s fourth grade style musical play, loud, funny, punch”¦” Petrovic said.

“Fourth graders should not come,” Tokyo interjects.

“Alright, it’s fourth grade quality,” Petrovic concedes.

The music will range from Christmas classics that fill every department store this time of year, but with added narration and commentary to coincide with the storytelling. And without giving too much away, or really anything at all, Petrovic made sure to clear the air of any flagrant blasphemy.

“It’s not blatantly offensive, it’s way weaker than South Park. It’s more of an absurd comedy than an offense sort of thing. It’s an absurd retelling,” he said.

“It started out last year as a joke and now its really happening,” Tokyo said. “And honestly, we have mad respect for TSO.”

All proceeds from the show will benefit Animal Adoption & Rescue Foundation of Winston-Salem, which is yet another reason Tokyo believes they are better than TSO.

Alas, Christmas is a time of giving, and Trans Siberian Dorkestra will give you a punch in the gut with rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit of blood, and some curveballs regarding the true origins of Christmas. And Kelly did add that, “seriously, though, we have mad respect for TSO.”


Trans Siberian Dorkestra will start at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 19, at Krankies Coffee located at 211 E. 3rd Street, Winston-Salem, 27105. Tickets for the show are $10 and advanced tickets can be purchased at Reanimator Records located at 344 Patterson Avenue, Winston-Salem, 27105. !