The Troubles & Travails of a Travelling Musician.

Set-pieces & Scene Reports.



THL cover

The Humorless Ladies of Border Control: Touring the Punk Underground from Belgrade to Ulaanbaatar is out August 2 on The New Press!

Preorder: Amazon Powell’s UK

“Franz Nicolay has always been the kind of musician who can sound like he’s roaming the world in the course of a single song. In this amazing road tale he captures how it feels for a wandering artist, scrounging in the underground punk scenes of Russia and the Balkans—sleepless nights and shaky trains, strong beer and unsavory companions–watching history turn inside out.” – Rob Sheffield (“Love Is A Mixtape,” Rolling Stone)

“If there isn’t already a shelf for Classic Punk Literature, we need to build it and stock it with Franz Nicolay. Part low-budget tour diary and part Slavic history lesson, this book is a love letter to the punk vie boheme; a delicious and hilarious borscht stew of untold histories, literary references, beautiful strangers and backstage vodka.” – Amanda Palmer (musician, “The Art of Asking”)

“Funny and wistful, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control is an engrossing romp that casts fresh eyes on Old World cultures rich in paradox. Franz Nicolay taps into the current cultural zeitgeist in the best travelogue tradition, with vivid scenes capturing the absurdities of daily life in the context of history and a deft reading of some of the most important cultural figures. –Gregory Feifer, NYTimes best-selling author of Russians: The People Behind the Power

“A truly remarkable book. On the surface, it’s a tour diary of shows around the wilder reaches of Eastern Europe and Russia, which would be interesting in itself. In actual fact, however, Franz has written a profound and perceptive travelogue in the vein of Paul Theroux or Rebecca West; like them, he teaches you about the places he visits, about the people he meets, about a forgotten but fascinating corner of world culture, and ultimately, about himself.” – Frank Turner (musician, “The Road Beneath My Feet”)



I’m thrilled to say I’m composing an original score for new work from choreographer Alison Chase (founding artistic director of the renowned dance companies Pilobolus and Momix), premiering Jan. 14-17 at the Five Angels Theater in NYC. Listen to the score here





















The New Press put my accordion pic on the cover of their spring catalog, they must mean business: “An audacious debut from a vivid new voice…an unforgettable, funny, and sharply drawn depiction of surprisingly robust hidden spaces.” If you like pre-ordering your books way in advance, it’s on Amazon.


Rolling Stone Germany is premiering Simon Jackson’s stop-motion video for “Marfa Lights.”



Euro dates this summer. 














25.07. Solingen (DE), Waldmeister

26.07. Berlin (DE), Ramones Museum
27.07. Leipzig (DE), Substanz
28.07. Braunschweig (DE), B58
29.07. Kiel (DE), Schaubude
30.07. Meppen (DE), JAM
31.07. Dortmund (DE), Bierschinken Festival
01.08. Landshut (DE), Hahnspektakel Festival
02.08. Stuttgart (DE), Club Zwölfzehn
03.08. Freiburg (DE), White Rabbit
04.08. Zürich (CH), Bar Rossi
05.08. St. Georgen (AUT), Fabio’s
06.08. Dornbirn (AUT), Anziehbar
07.08. Oberstaufen (DE), Glashaus
08.08. Straelen (DE), Komm Na Huus Festival


We stayed in the America’s Best Value Inn (motto: Four words, three lies!) in Richmond and Andrew Seward made this video for “Bright White.” Apparently I’m doing some kind of a Joe Cocker impression.



Andrew Seward made this video trailer for “To Us, The Beautiful!” with some footage from the recording session.



Here’s some big news.

I’m really excited to say that my book, “The Humorless Ladies Of Border Control,” will be published by The New Press in early 2016. It’s about DIY touring in the formerly Communist world.

The amazing New Press catalog includes the likes of Chomsky, Studs Terkel, Foucault, bell hooks, and many more (uh, John Edwards.) Definitely gonna harass my new labelmate Noam for club-date support slots during festival season.


The great people at Make-That-A-Take Records out of Dundee are doing a 7″ release of “Low Bridge, Everybody Down” b/w “Home Is Where They Take You In,” the two outtakes from To Us, The Beautiful! From here on we will refer to this only as “the Scottish 7″” as is the custom. Preorder it now. EDIT: Punktastic is streaming both tracks here.














February east coast full-band tour, then March solo tour in the UK:










XM tour ad









Also, Benjamin Juarez from Mexico City made this wonderful lyric video for “To Us, The Beautiful!” Thanks Ben!




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