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Tenement’s New Album Is a Little Less Punk and a Little More Pop

The Wisconsin punks add another piece to their musical puzzle.

by Tim Scott
Jun 3 2016, 12:33pm

“Everyone to Love” the opening track on Tenement’s new self-titled album, starts with what sounds like broken glass and a football stadium implosion.

But don’t worry, the Appleton, Wisconsin three-piece haven’t overnight turned into some tough guy hardcore unit and the song quickly bends back to the hooky power pop punk that Tenement execute so well.

Since forming in 2006, the band have developed their sound from one deeply rooted in hardcore punk to take in more various sounds to include the Replacements, the Descendents, and the Lemonheads. While 2015's rousing double LP, Predatory Headlights, was epic in sound and reach, the new record, that includes five newly remastered tracks from the band’s recent tour cassette and two unreleased songs, could be their most poppy yet.

As well as being an accomplished visual artist, Tenement frontman Amos Pitsch has varied musical interests that range from old soul, playing in a country-rock side project to producing tapes for North West Indiana hardcore ragers The Bug. All these influences are found on the new album.

Listen to the album below and read a chat we had with Amos about being star struck, Charles Bradley fans and the greatness of Bill Stevenson’s drumming.

Noisey: Predatory Headlights was reviewed by Palestinian eighth-grade English students. All bands should have their albums reviews by eighth-graders. Was there any feedback that you particularly took on board?
Amos Pitsch: I think I've got a better idea now of how to write music for ringtones. I also learned that some of the musical decisions I've made that represent a contemplative or lethargic emotion translates to horror to these children.

Iggy Pop is a Tenement fan. Have you spoken to him? Is there anyone you would fan boy out too much to speak to?
I haven't spoken to him. I'm glad he likes our music. I love The Stooges. I don't feel very intimidated by other musicians. Only because I think that intimidation comes from not understanding something and I think I've got a really good grasp on what it is to be a musician at this point. I've been one since I was six years old. That's 22-years. I'm also a fairly quiet person. I don't speak much, especially to strangers, so I've never been one to gush much to my heroes. I tried that once with Bill Stevenson when I was 16. Some guy walked up with a "The Last" shirt on halfway through my first sentence and stole him away. Bill Stevenson is the greatest drummer on earth.

Who are “The Strangest Couple In Love”?
The ones that fall desperately in love and just can't imagine life without one another. They trudge to hell and back with each other until one day they realize that for some reason, what seemed like hell before looks a lot better than where they are now. But still they carry this relationship around like a pimple or a bad case of the pink eye. Seriously people, for years these two will tolerate their apathy for one another out of sheer principle of some kind of shitty lust disguised as love. We've all been there. We've all been that couple.

“Witches in a Ritual” has such a cool swagger about it. What was the idea/inspiration behind this?
I'm not the kind of songwriter that really goes into the process with a sound in mind. But I do listen to a lot of soul music and other things. I'm listening to this song right now. It's reminding me of The Stones. Maybe if The Descendents really liked The Stones. I don't know what to tell you.

You recently played with soul performer Charles Bradley. How did that go?
The audiences seemed confused. At one venue we left the stage to 400 people booing and 400 people cheering. People had wondered if we were going to cater to the crowd that might typically go to a Charles Bradley show. I believe that contrast is important if you're going to leave an impression on someone so no, that's not what we decided to do. You could say that at some of the shows we were louder than ever. Even almost too loud for myself on stage.

You are working with Deranged on the new LP. As you were getting mentions and reviews in The New York Times and Grantland did other labels start approaching you?
Many "larger" labels have approached us over the course of the past few years. Usually for us, it comes down to the issue of a few things: Will association with a certain label damn us to a niche audience, or will the label in question allow us to appeal to anyone? Will the built in visual aesthetic of a record label affect the assumed identity of our band? Do we have an interest in the work that the label typically releases? Beyond that, we haven't dealt with any serious assholes or anything and are fairly satisfied with who we've worked with and what we've released thus far.

Dusk is your more country band. Are there any songs on the new Tenement album that could fit with Dusk?
Maybe "Roads of Home"? I'd like to think that the songs I write could be pretty interchangeable between groups if only a few small aspects of the music or production are changed. I think that's the mark of well written music.

'Tenement' is available July 1 through Deranged records.