Trash Fiasco captures the mental chaos of pandemic society with 'Stay Miserable' LP

Take one spin through Trash Fiasco's recent LP release “Stay Miserable,” and a listener will notice some things. It's heavy. It's chaotic. But it's thoughtful. And deeply clever.

The 7-track release by Chicago-based punk three-piece is a cacophony of sound and emotion, honing in on what makes the genre so great — something to say, something to think about and something to feel.

Frank Bruno — the Joliet songwriter behind the mic and who penned most of the tracks on the release — harnesses a bone-deep aggression and flavors each track with a rough-edged rawness that is chilling and lyrics that can be darkly hilarious. And Hoffman Estates natives Lucas Fuechsl and Alex “Frodo” Steinbach back him on drums and bass, putting the fun of each song front and center.

We asked Bruno a few questions about the creation of “Stay Miserable” and what makes Trash Fiasco work so well:

Q. Launching a new band during a global pandemic and shutdown of the Chicago music scene can't have been an easy task. What did you guys do to build hype for Trash Fiasco and connect to the scene?

A. It was definitely a weird position to be in, but we decided to take the extra time you typically don't have to really craft our sound. We started the band, wrote our album, drilled in practice, recorded, and released all in the pandemic. Not feeling rushed and being able to be meticulous about our music was critical to how we sound now. Now that the world is more open, we're starting to take advantage of, and develop additional, connections in the scene. It's all about getting our music and a live show in front of people now!

Q. Trash Fiasco released two singles before dropping the new LP “Stay Miserable,” both with pretty different sonic approaches to your music. Let's talk about them for a minute. “Little Red Rover” is a raucous and fun introduction to Trash Fiasco's sound. What's the message behind that track?

A. We felt that “Little Red Rover” really hit at the core of what Trash Fiasco sounds like. Boiled down, we are “punk” in the sense that we enjoy playing fast and loud. The song focuses on an individual taking pleasure in their “guardian” and “protector” role of someone else, even though they are in it for the control and power it provides. The introduction serves as a reminder to be the master of your own destiny and not to shy away from challenges and obstacles.

Q. Traditional doo-wop songs encompass simple lead melodies and lighthearted lyrics, often about love. You guys replicate that style on “Stay,” but you twist it into more of a comically chilling song about obsession. What was your thought process behind that message? And what made you want to experiment with folding in a style that runs so counter to your core punk sensibilities?

A. Punk is very much about irreverence. Taking the most wholesome and light genre there is and corrupting it, making it dark and twisted, was the only real way we could pull off a doo wop song. It started through genuine appreciation of the doo wop genre, but it was clear quickly that we needed an unorthodox take on the sound for it to work for us. The heaviness and speed that cuts in throughout the song not only reminds you that it's Trash Fiasco, but also highlights the loving/obsessive nature of the main character and the contrast between those two sides of his personality.

Q. On the new LP, Trash Fiasco tackled one of the Buzzcocks' most well-loved songs, “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've?)” What significance does that song hold for you that made you guys choose to include it?

A. Our drummer, Lucas, brought this idea to the table. We were discussing the idea of inserting a cover, but wanted to make sure it was one with a lot of energy to help offset some of the more groove-oriented tracks later in the album (Plenty of Time / Posthumous Humor). With the themes of temptation and corruption so present in the album already, it was a natural fit. Not to mention that once we started practicing it, it almost felt like a song of our own.

Q. Was most of “Stay Miserable” written before or during the pandemic? And how much did events of the last year contribute to or challenge you musically?

A. The whole album was written during the pandemic. It's impossible to be a person in 2020 — 2021 and not be influenced by the effects of the pandemic and the way we've responded to it. But many of the feelings and emotions that these circumstances stir in people are the same that drive the punk movement: anger, resentment, despair, frustration, etc ... It would have been difficult to write music if we were a pop act, but for punk, the setting was almost beneficial. The themes that run throughout the album were definitely enhanced by the pandemic, making it easier to create the stories that we did.

Q. Now that things are opening up and you guys have shows on the horizon, what song are you most looking forward to playing live in front of fans? And why?

A. With the couple shows we've had since coming out of lockdown, Stay is definitely a ton of fun to play. When you look out into the crowd, it's easy to identify the ones who have heard the track and the ones who haven't. Those who have are eagerly anticipating the moment when the proverbial (expletive) hits the fan, and those who haven't are stunned when it does. The range the song provides also allows us as musicians to stretch out and have some freedom with what we do.

Q. Where/when can people see you playing live?

Friday, Sep. 17 — The Hot Spot — Peoria, IL

Thursday, Oct. 7 — Liar's Club — Chicago, IL

Thursday, Oct. 21 — Livestream @ The Bunker

On the web:

Instagram: @trashfiasco.chi

Facebook: @trashfiascochi


"Stay Miserable," the debut LP by Trash Fiasco
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