Updated: Mar 4
We need punk rock. It's blasting rhythms, piercing guitars, and rushed, urgent vocals help us to climb outside of ourselves. And if you're looking for a new record to get that fix of adrenaline, look no further than Flytrap by Chicago's Microcosms.
The band's founding member, Andrew Tschiltsch (vox/guitar), began Microcosms in 2012 looking for an outlet. The band has blossomed into a blistering four-piece, with Bryan Emer on bass, Jered Piepenbrink on drums, and Ronn Richardson on guitars and keys. Together, they've crafted a sound that is larger than the sum of its parts.
And the six songs on Flytrap are a testament to this band's ability to create something raw and powerful while simultaneously complex. Tschiltsch's lyrics are meditations on modern capitalist living, with lines like "got work in an hour / don't die in the shower" from the second track "Hurl." As the band shifts from doom-esque riffs to an urgent post-punk chorus, these four musicians show how well they're tuned to each other. There's not a note wasted on this EP - every chord and crash performed with purpose.
On "Fairytale Mk2," Tschiltsch sings, "Now I dont know what the future holds / It seems like just a concept that keeps us growing old." This band's hybrid of punk-adjacent genres served as a platform for exploring the great mystery of existence. A lot of bands are able to co-opt that rock-and-roll swagger in an attempt for mass appeal. But, there's a refreshing sincerity in the songs on Flytrap. Microcosms are the real deal - the kind of folks you could hang out with after the show and drown your late-stage capitalism blues with a case of PBR.
Listen to Flytrap below, and stick around for an exclusive interview!
Y'all did the recording, mixing, and mastering yourselves. Was it a daunting task to translate the live sound of the band into a studio setting?
That’s the easier part of the process for us because the goal of our releases is to capture the experience of seeing us at a show. We recorded the instruments together live at a studio called Jamdek here in Chicago, then I took the stems home for mixing and mastering. Wanting the tracks to have that live feel allows me to be more focused when mixing because I can just make sure I’m highlighting the parts of each song that bring the energy and quirkiness that comes from live performance. The more daunting part is recording the vocals by myself. I change my delivery often and it can be hard to settle on a take that I like because each one can capture a different feeling I’m expressing in that specific moment. It’s all fun though!
There's a lot of lyrics on this EP about the ennui that comes from capitalism. Have you found that the day job makes it hard to keep making art?
For me it’s not so much the day job that can make it hard, but more the sense of dread that can become overwhelming when you see the pain and poverty caused by capitalism. I mean the perfect example is that there’s almost a million Americans that were alive two years ago that are no longer here, and the dominant discourse coming from the government and the media is how do we forget about it. Not how do we make sure everyone has access to healthcare and vaccines, or how do we make sure this never happens again. Absolute craziness.
My desire to escape the traditional capitalist path is what led to me starting the band. I tell people I was radicalised by my finance job haha…a voice in my head started forming songs that were telling me to confront what I knew to be true - that I didn’t want the focus of my life to be making rich people richer. I’m naturally an optimistic person and a lot of our songs are about my brain trying to reconcile that optimism with the obvious pain being experienced by so many people and the constant callous responses by those in charge. I’ve found that my natural response tends towards sarcasm and snarl. I’m lucky enough to have found a day job that allows me to amplify social justice and workforce development organisations while giving me enough financial freedom and schedule flexibility to make art.
The band is really tight on this record. Everything just gels together so perfectly. Do you feel this EP pushed you to grow as musicians?
Thanks, I really appreciate that because I feel the same way! I’m super proud of this batch of songs. I’m a relatively late bloomer when it comes to being a musician (and producer) and it’s so awesome to hear how far we’ve come since our first releases and feel how our performances get better with every practice. I still feel like I’m finding my voice, but my confidence has grown so much over the past few years and my bandmates are a big part of that with the way they bring my thoughts to life to really make our songs rock. We’re really just scratching the surface of our potential right now and that really excites the hell out of me.
There's so much ground covered here, from post-punk to indie rock and a little bit of psych rock in there too. What was it like to try to cull all your influences into something cohesive?
It’s really cool you got that feeling because our individual influences really do run the gamut. Jered is rooted in punk, Bryan loves his heavy metal, Ronn is basically a musical encyclopaedia, and I lean heavily towards alternative+psych rock and hip hop. My goal with every song is to make it exciting for the listener, to have them want to run the song back as soon as it ends. So I try to stay conscious about not repeating ourselves too much and throwing in structural curveballs while keeping our music pretty accessible.
From writing to recording, was there a song that changed the most?
Oooh I’d say Hurl. I wrote that five or six years ago and it was originally more of a slow waltz through the whole thing which never really felt quite right. When we restarted band practices after lockdown we were playing up on Jered’s roof and messing around with covering Weezer’s El Scorcho which has that sweet tempo change. Jered had the suggestion to do something similar with Hurl and it really captures the emotional rollercoaster of the lyrics.
What's next for Microcosms in the coming year? Where can listeners find you?
We’re playing as many shows as possible! If you want us to come to your city please hit us up on Twitter/IG at @WeAreMicrocosms. You can sign up for our email list at WeAreMicrocosms.com, and our songs are available on all platforms. You can head to music.wearemicrocosms.com/streaming and get the links from there too. Thanks for having me and spreading the word!
Listen to 'Flytrap' in full here: