Tenement is an Appleton band that’s caught national attention. Frontman Amos Pitsch describes his sound, the importance of structure, and his constant search for new music.
For Appleton native Amos Pitsch, playing in the punk-rock band Tenement is both a livelihood and a life-long learning experience.
Despite having a national reputation as an improvisational punk-rock band, Pitsch claims Tenement’s music is based soundly in structure and rhythm.
“I think I’m kind of like a dictator when it comes to putting together our music and I’m really obsessed with rhythm,” Pitsch said. “I just feel like there should be an almost danceable rhythm to every song, even if it doesn’t sound like a club hit.”
That does not mean that Pitsch and Tenement do not enjoy experimenting with music, though. Pitsch is constantly listening to different types of music and old records for inspiration when composing music for Tenement.
“I get this seriously spiritual feeling about records. The music I used to hear, I feel like I hear it everywhere now, and I’m just always searching for something I’ve never heard before,” Pitsch said.
That search began when his brother gave him a Descendants CD that peaked his interest in punk music. More recently, his musical explorations have led him to study jazz composers Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus.
Despite finding the sound of jazz strange and hard to understand at first, Pitsch has gained a new appreciation for the complexity of jazz music and feels like he has improved as a composer from studying great jazz artists.
To Pitsch, studying music is a life-long experience that is as full of rewards as it is challenges. The most important lesson Pitsch has learned so far, though, is to remain true to yourself and keep improving.
“I don’t feel like we’ve ever been a part of a musical clique. We aren’t really concerned with getting signed to a certain label or pleasing certain people,” Pitsch said. “I just feel that’s what our lives are based around, learning about music.”
This story was produced in partnership with Set List, WPR’s summer music series.