Appleton’s Punk Heroes Tenement

By Brad Kolberg | August 5, 2016


Listen Online

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.

Brad Kolberg with his daughter at Miller Park.

Brad Kolberg

Brad Kolberg is a radio producer and engineer from Stoughton, WI.  He likes to take time for his wife & daughter, The Brewers & Packers, music & beer discovery, and running down a trail somewhere out in the woods of Wisconsin.
2018-01-19T17:52:58-06:00Tags: , , , , , , |

Sign Up Form

Sign Up for Our Bi-Weekly Newsletter

Get your favorite Wisconsin Life stories, meet the crew, and go behind the scenes.

Our Favorite Collections

Storyteller Rodney Lambright II's comic series about the rich relationship between a single father, his young daughter and his retirement-age parents.
For the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we discover how Wisconsinites experienced the war both at home and on the battlefield.
Ice, cold and winter are an integral part of what it means to live in Wisconsin. "Ice Week" explores the many ways that ice defines us.
Food plays a central part in many holiday traditions. This series honors the foods and meals that make the day.
Escape winter with a look at some of Wisconsin's favorite sports and games.
"Living the Wisconsin Life" is an online series exploring the little things that make living in Wisconsin fun, interesting and meaningful.