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Awesome Men Throughout History: Andrew Lersten

If you’re into weird music like I am, the Internet might as well be your best friend. Even the most unlistenable, experimental noise/music projects have some kind of web presence: a Bandcamp page, a Tumblr, a Soundcloud account, something. It’s easier than ever to find and hoard music without the problems caused by a record collection taking over your entire house. Just ask Jello Biafra!

But today’s Awesome Man Throughout History—punk rock musician Andrew Lersten—has pretty much no web presence of his own. You can find his music on Youtube or on mp3 blogs here and there, and sometimes it gets reviewed, but you still have to work to find him. He’s still using letters and a PO Box, for crying out loud. He might as well be painting stick figure buffalo on a cave wall.

Andrew’s music is punk rock in its purest form; short, aggressive, crude, and compulsive. Whether it’s his solo project, Vilently Ill, or his full band Bunny Skulls, most of Andrew’s songs range between 30 and 45 seconds long, with lyrics that wouldn’t be out of place in the margins of some 9th grade delinquent’s math homework. This may not sound appealing to you, which is fine; Andrew might be self-selecting his audience by making his music nearly impossible to find unless you really, really want to listen to it.

That said, if you like punk rock, Andrew’s music is awesome. He’s really good at composing ultra-short songs with catchy riffs and shout-along choruses, which he’s been doing since the mid-1990s. A lot of his stuff is self-released on his Knot Records label, which he runs from his house, and he’s put out some great compilations of similar music (the Speed Freaks series is especially good).

Andrew captures a certain frenzy that’s easy to associate with Midwestern boredom (I think he lives in Michigan, but it’s not like I can look that up), and also with making art because you have to, even if it’s crude and even if there’s no obvious audience for it. Especially with his Vilently Ill stuff, there’s an urgency that suggests he would spontaneously combust if he didn’t make music in some way, in some form.

All tastes aside, I think that’s a refreshing change from a lot of modern, low-effort pop artists who fart out purposely boring club music because it makes money.

But anyway, enough rambling. I’ll leave you with this video of Bunny Skulls performing at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids. Andrew Lersten’s on guitar and vocals, and he kind of looks like everyone’s high school principal wearing pajamas.

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