Milwaukee’s American Progress is Not a Myth
By Bryon Cherry
American progress is a term that conjures up some pretty immediate thoughts for many people around the world both good and not so good. American Progress though is a Milwaukee based punk band that is still defining exactly what they are to the world. In October of 2021 they released their debut three song EP, “Unprocessed” as a surprise. The record, as the name implies burns with an organic fire. They are a “loud punk band that can’t decide what kind of punk band it is, and it’s all of our faults,” singer-guitarist Andrew David Weber says.
Weber is joined by Steve Madsen on bass and Tristan Wallace on drums. They make a joyful and brash noise together all pulled together by the magnetic gravity of Weber’s supple voice. American Progress sounds off the cuff and witty when talking about their project. Riffing about their roles in the band they all have something to say. “I’m the glue between the melody and the drums,” Madsen says. “I’m the business,” Wallace laughs. “I’m the glue that pieces together things for the business to sell,” Weber says without missing a beat.
How do their hooky, gritty and somehow still pop-like tunes come together you ask? “We all get in a room and trade riffs. Once we have something good going, I yell feelings into the microphone until a good rhyme comes about,” Weber says. Well, if there was ever a time to listen to three talented musicians absolutely wail on their instruments and yell about feelings, it seems that 2022 is that time.
When talking inspirations for them the band tosses off Bruce Lee, Rocky and of course Dr. Gonzo because well, why the hell not? Yet, somehow these influences shine through. Bruce Lee in how he adapted like in his quote about being like water because though they are definitely a punk band, you can tell that they do not feel bound by genre constraints. Then Rocky because you get the feeling when talking to them that they don’t plan on giving up on their creativity no matter the circumstances. Lastly, Dr. Gonzo because, of course, a little unimpeded chaos is good action for any aspiring punk band.
American Progress came together, like so many bands, drinking with each other, in their case at a comedy show that they almost got kicked out of because they were so loud and enthused by the idea of making some music together. They are all in other projects but they make the timing work. Weber is in “umpteen bands” including Whiskey of the Damned and the Andrew David Weber Band. Madsen is also in The Resonant Complex and Wallace has a project called A Darker Color Bright. When asked how playing in other bands informs their sound they collectively come to a shout and in near perfect unison say, “It doesn’t.” American Progress is certainly its own beast.
When talking about the future, Weber puts it plainly, “We just want to play all the time. Everywhere. That’s it.” That is a goal that is seemingly attainable for a band that seems to know its way around writing rough and tumble tunes that are completely accessible to a lot of people because of heartfelt songwriting sprinkled with many catchy hooks.
American Progress will be releasing a brand spanking new music video for their tune “Off the Wall” which leads off their EP, which is available on all digital streaming platforms. The EP was recorded entirely in two live sessions by Wallace and Weber at the Captain Pabst Pilot House after it closed its doors. Weber had been a resident musician there and Wallace was the primary sound technician so for them it was a very sentimental time.
American Progress seems to be growing in ways that should put them in front of some receptive audiences. The songs which they say are fueled by “80 percent Pabst Blue Ribbon, 5 percent anguish, 5 percent body odor and 10 percent noncompliance” are singable and fun. Though the term American progress has some confusing connotations, the band American Progress seems ready and willing to define themselves by continuing to pour out their angst and joy in song form for whoever will watch them play.