Road Trip: How Chicago’s The Lipschitz Accidentally Achieved Post-Punk Perfection
Named after a German mathematician, Lipschitz continuity denotes a strong, uniform continuity between two functions. If we were to trace the path of a certain garage punk duo who share their title with this analytical descriptor, we’d see a graph fittingly reflect a steady, uniform ascent from raw garage rock foundations into eccentric post-punk opulence. With Daniel Brady’s guile on guitar and Rachael Boswell’s elocution on the kit, their latest LP Chevron leans into their infectious obscurities and shines thanks to an animated split vocal performance. We spoke through our screens to learn about their hardcore roots, recording on reel and everything in between.
Before moving to the Windy City, the pair called Savannah, Georgia home. Heavily immersed in the local hardcore scene, a split bill between one of Brady’s many bands and Boswell’s first catalysed their connection; “We had just started in two new bands and we played a show together. We were both drummers and we were both enthralled with one another, so we just ended up playing together”. As Boswell describes, though hardcore helped cut their percussive teeth, this new project allowed them to explore something more musically resonant; “I was pretty fresh to playing music and I was excited because it was my first band, but my tastes were rapidly changing. The Lipschitz gave me an outlet that I could really dive into which was more like the music I’d listen to”.
Driven by a shared affinity for garage, the pair DIYed their way around their debut 2015 EP, Pillow Face. Scuzzed-up beyond fidelity, it captured a special marriage of raw, rhythmic punk unshackled by preconceived formulae. As Brady explains; “I’d always been a drummer and made my own music but never played guitar or sung. We basically just started from scratch working out what we wanted it to be by venturing into new territory”. While follow-ups Country Boy (2017) and LAVA (2018) consolidated their style, The Lispchitz’s first LP in 3 years would switch things up by stripping their sound back.
Seemingly stepping into the post-punk realm with this year’s release, Chevron’s resulting reception came as a surprise; “It started as this genre-specific garage outlet and it’s evolved into something where we don’t have any pretence about, ‘oh, we should start heading in this direction’. I’ve never been like, ‘I’m influenced by post-punk’, so it’s interesting that we’re getting labelled as that with this album”. Casting a wide, creatively instinctive net, the pair equally endeavour to avoid covering ground already trodden; “I think we’re drawn to anything that questions whatever has come before. It’s important you don’t get lost in, ‘I gotta be like them, I gotta be like a band from the 90s or the 80s’, because you’re just never gonna be that band”.
The duo qualifies these ideals the moment ‘Ventilator’ is let off the leash. Exhilaratingly up-tempo, the album opener sees The Lipschitz swap overt, crunchy chord progressions for plucky licks and near-experimental percussive interchanges from Boswell; “It’s very non-formulaic. You’ll never see me play it the same way twice and I think there’s something cool about having all these little surprises in it”. Extending themselves further into catchy and deranged post-punk angulation, ‘Form’ offers a nod to their garage roots while ‘Laclion’ oozes with west coast surf punk. It’s origin, based on barely decipherable words from a randomly attained children’s drawing, evoke the band’s appealing absurdity; “We named our Animal Crossing town ‘Laclion’ and we were talking about how those villagers are just waiting around whenever you stop playin’. I’m not goin’ back anytime soon, so ‘Laclion’ is about all those forgotten villagers just lyin’ around”.
Where Brady previously fronted the bulk of vocal responsibilities, Boswell’s involvement on Chevron imbues tracks like ‘Cutlet’ and ‘Cobalt Car’ with refreshing dynamism. Slowly beating down self-consciousness, the drummer’s undertaking ultimately helped her engage more emotionally with the music; “I just never saw myself as a vocalist when I started playing music but then the more I played the more I started seeing it as a tool. I know I’m not a trained vocalist, I’m not a naturally good vocalist but as I started writing more I felt I could use it as a tool to get the sounds I wanted out of songs”. Similarly speaking, Brady’s vocals soar with a newfound eccentricity; “I always drench my vocals in effects but because we recorded on reels I couldn’t just fix anything in post. When we were in the studio Rachel really helped it by coming back over the microphone like; ‘yeah maybe push that a little harder’. She also had to tell me to dial it back sometimes too”.
Another crucial cog elevating Chevron to a new sonic standard for the band revolved around handing the mixing and engineering duties over to close friend Phillip Lesicko. Recorded in 2019 at an art house converted from his grandfather’s mortuary, Lesicko provided a safe space that felt familiarly remote; “We’re both from the south and southeast USA is kinda desolate. Even if you’re near an area that’s congregated, you’re used to this desolation. Being in the middle of nowhere, it was comfortable and really familiar”. Along with offering external feedback, these aspects proved integral in assisting the duo through the challenge of reel-to-reel recording where little was left to be amended in post-production to preserve the aural clarity; “It got such an accurate and beautiful snapshot of our music the way other mediums might not have. It was hard doing it. We had to play things a few times sometimes but overall it was a rewarding feeling knowing all your shit is live”.
Distributing the LP on their own recently spawned record label Company Businesses, The Lipschitz have amassed an arsenal of achievements for the year. Proving the worth within nurturing their artistic intentions over the years and fully realising it all on Chevron, all they’ve left to do is enjoy the fruits of their labour in live spaces, wherever they might crop up; “We played our last show outside of a MacDonald’s as a generator show. We’ve done them before in Savannah, weirdly without power, but here someone wheeled one into a clearing and then 100 punk kids come outta nowhere. The locals came and called the cops and shut down the last band, but, I think that’s the energy right now though. Wherever you can have a show, even if it's for 30 minutes, just do it”.